District Boss Interview: Marcella Kriebel
MARCELLA KRIEBEL IS AN AMAZING WATERCOLOR ILLUSTRATOR AND OWNER OF HER OWN DC ART STUDIO.
Ahead, she is sharing a glimpse into her life as an illustrator, world traveler, and author of two amazing cookbooks: Mi Comida Latina and Comida Cubana (releasing Nov. 21)
1. Tell us about yourself!
I have a background in Studio Art but Cultural Anthropology, and a love of travel and learning about people. I've been able to synthesize all of this through my watercolors and illustrated cookbooks that I make. I've found that what people eat is a great introduction into the rituals, preferences, and traditions of the places I visit. In food there is endless inspiration, and I illuminate it all through my collection of mix and match watercolors in the collection Illustrated Feast and, at this point, my two cookbook projects. Mi Comida Latina and Comida Cubana (releasing Nov. 21) are both books are comprised of recipes I've learned during my travels. I've spent countless hours cooking with people in their homes, journaling and sketching these episodes, and it is these experiences that are the basis of research and inspiration for my cookbooks.
2. What lead you to where you are today?
I'm grew up in a family of artists. We garden and cook a lot... they certainly have an influence on who I am. When I was in school I learned Spanish and then studied abroad in Ecuador, dated an Ecuadorian guy for three years, and that's how I gained my Spanish speaking skills which lead me to travel to many Latin American countries, where I prepared many home cooked dishes found in my first cookbook, Mi Comida Latina. After that book released, thanks to a successful Kickstarter campaign, The book was published and distributednationwide. My publisher, pitched my second project to me, Comida Cubana, and I hopped on board, starting my second illustrated cookbook based in recipes learned through travel. For the research, I returned to Cuba three times to cook with people all over the island, and cooked with Cuban Americans too.
3. What brings you the most joy when developing your artwork?
I like that I can combine my love of learning about the world with my visual art. On a technical level, I love the immediacy of watercolor. I can travel and work from anywhere thanks to reality that watercolor is a really minimal set up. One small paint set, two brushes paper and an ink pen. On the back end, though, there's a fair amount of digital editing that goes on. I apply my skills in Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator frequently to edit my art and get it really for print. Editing my work digitally isn't something that is super enjoyable, but the moment I have a piece that is reproduced for the first time, is when I feel a sense of accomplishment. It's ratifying to know that many people can enjoy my work in their homes as most of my prints are open editions.
4. What’s the most difficult part of being an artist? The best part?
I think the most rewarding part about being an artist is also the most difficult thing, broadly- I love being my own boss. But it comes with a constant learning curve. I have to learn about business management, bookkeeping, taxes, and I'm always thinking about marketing - these things aren't my strengths.
I have to learn about business management, bookkeeping, taxes, and I'm always thinking about marketing - these things aren't my strengths. But, in order to grow my business I need to keep up on all of this. It's a lot of moving parts. I'd say less than 20% of my art business is actually drawing and painting in reality. What is new to me regarding my growing business, can be exciting to learn about but also a challenge.
5. How do you stay motivated and continue to grow, personally and professionally?
Travel! Experiencing new places and meeting people from other cultures always lends a more broad, and renewed perspective. Traveling reminds me of what's important- to stay humble, because I do feel privileged to have the ability to design my own schedule and fold travel into my profession.
6. What’s your nighttime routine?
These days I'll watch an episode on Broad City, catch up on the days news if I missed it, review my calendar for the next day or two. Brush my teeth...and I drink a full glass of water before bed.
7. What’s one piece of advice you would give to other artists?
Spend less time on your phone, and more time making art. ️