We caught up with our incredibly talented "light-enthusiast" pal Morgan Schemel, founder of re|source designs, and her new venture that's feeding everyone's wanderlust soul: The Art of Travel! Read along for our exclusive interview with the American artist living overseas, and how her adventures and surroundings are fueling her creative locomotive!
Scrimshaw Collective (SC): Great to catch up with you Morgan! Why don’t you tell us (and our audience) a little bit about yourself. // Morgan Schemel (MS): Hi guys, thanks so much for this interview! I’m really excited to share my recent work and Scrimshaw Collective is a great audience to share it with! I was born and raised in Hinsdale, IL (a suburb of Chicago), and spent my summers at my family’s farm in Elizabeth, IL learning about the outdoors and how to get dirt on my clothes. This must have been where my passion for nature and flowers started. My brother and I would spend hours digging around in the garden or out on the dirt paths smashing open rocks looking for geodes. I grew up but took these inspirations and everyday adventures with me to the College of Charleston where I studied Fine Art and Art History. My art from that time period of my life consisted solely of floral still lives. I would sneak around in people’s gardens in the middle of the night searching for my next subject. I remember I left the studio one night around 1 AM and saw the most beautiful dogwood branch. I absolutely needed to have it. So I leaned my bike up against a fence and stood on top of it to reach it but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t pull it off. I got out an exacto knife and started hacking away when a policeman biked up… I smiled and pretended I was merrily on my way home. But I woke up bright and early the next morning and went back for it! After leaving Charleston, I ventured back to Chicago and spent four years working in the wedding industry -- which I absolutely fell in love with, particularly with the adventure of the unknown. It was also a very surprising outlet for my artistic talents! I learned about linens, flatware and all sorts of fine dining essentials that together comprise an unforgettable event.
SC: No longer in the Midwest, where’s home now? // MS: This past January, my boyfriend Matt and I moved to the Netherlands! It was a big, tearful decision but in the end, we’re very happy we made it! Life is different out here and I’m learning a lot about different cultures and even more about myself. We also get to do more traveling than I ever thought possible!
SC: The Netherlands are awesome, and we’re wicked jealous of all your traveling! Now getting into your work, could you give us an overview of what exactly re|source designs embodies as a company. // MS: I started re|source designs as a way for me to articulate my obsession with all things design, with the mission to be a curated online design destination for today’s design hungry, tech-savvy, next generation brand influencers. I use it as my catch-all -- from travel to floral arrangements and everything in between!
SC: Sounds amazing! So by studying fine art and art history, was there a particular medium you focused on, and has that changed over the years? // MS: My absolute favorite medium is painting. I’m actually really paint-heavy in the way I approach a lot of things. Color is my true passion and I know how to mix pigment better than I know how to do most things. I found this really useful when planning weddings. It was really easy for me to suggest linen and color combinations based on the light in the space, the desired atmosphere, etc. In college I worked exclusively in oils. I started experimenting with watercolor during a study abroad program in Prague and have really pushed myself to explore this medium more. Today it’s probably my go-to medium! Which is very surprising for me to hear myself say!
SC: Throughout your design, regardless of medium, what inspires your work the most? // MS: Light is a constant influence in my work. I’m addicted to shadows and changes in time. I paint these the most and am very interested in time travel, ha ha - but also in plain old travel too! I grew up traveling - a lot - and had been to more countries than states by the time I graduated high school. Which really allowed me to feel open to exploring new cultures and religions when I got to college. It also really influenced my passion for art history and creating my own work. My art is strongly influenced by nature. And time. Everything we know of is ephemeral. Except time. And nature does a great job of saying that. Recently I’ve been painting a lot of clouds. Their movement is something I find so fascinating! I’ve been working on a few sky paintings from all over the world -- most recently Lisbon!
SC: It seems that your talents spread across many different areas, from stationery, to hand-painted dinnerware, and The Art of Travel subscriptions. We could totally use some beautiful cards and plates to dine on, but tell us what exactly an “Art of Travel” subscription all about. Where did you come up with the idea? // MS: The Art of Travel subscription is collection of artwork, inspirations, and trinkets from my travels each quarter. Think of it as all the loot Louis & Clark sent back from their explorations with a modern twist! It’s meant to awaken the traveler’s mindset within you. To look at your life -- with or without trips planned -- as an adventure, as a new experience with constant explorations. With this mindset, going to the supermarket can be a voyage to a new land. So when someone subscribes, I send them a intro narrative giving them an itinerary for the quarter and my thoughts/ideas associated with each location. During the quarter I create artwork based on these travels -- some happen on location, some in the studio. The artwork consists of everything from watercolors, sketches, photos, map replications, etc. At the end of the quarter I wrangle it all together and ship it to the subscriber!
SC: Now what can people expect to get in their subscription? // MS: Let’s see, for example The Summer, 2015 Edition includes some items such as: photography card inspired by a poem, painted reliefs and maps, watercolor and pencil sketches of my surroundings, collectible bottle caps, sand from faraway beaches, local plants (i.e. lavender), and local pigments to make your own paint! Each quarter’s work includes a password protected link to the digital elements. These consist of everything to sound recordings from places that resonated with me, to scans of hand-written recipes and so on.
SC: You clearly have the travel bug! Some of our friend’s recent trips have included the Maldives, Nova Scotia, and Japan! Where are some of your upcoming trips scheduled? And if you had to choose, do you have a favorite places you’ve visited? // MS: Some upcoming include: Oktoberfest in Munich; Italy; Paris in November to see the Louvre when there’s NOT a million tourists; Chicago for Christmas! We travel around the Netherlands every weekend with our weekend train passes, so this weekend we’re exploring Rotterdam! It was completely bombed during WWII and totally rebuilt. So I’m excited to see that! Plus, it boasts a lively art scene! A few future destinations include: Iceland, Greece, and Spain. I can’t pick my favorite place but I love: Charleston, SC, San Miguel de Allende (the Charleston of Mexico), and Paris!
SC: Being across the pond, do you use technology to stay connected to family and friends overseas? And do you find social media and other online platforms/apps the best way to broadcast re|source designs across the World Wide Web? // MS: FaceTime! I convinced my entire family to stay with their iPhones so that we can iMessage and FaceTime for free (plus WhatsApp)! Honestly, social media is a blessing and a curse for me here. I see a lot of stuff that I’m missing out on -- like weddings, dinners, family news, etc. Stuff that yes, I may have been invited to (like weddings), but stuff that I wasn’t either. It’s been tough learning to deal with the ups and downs, but overall I’m grateful for the technology that we have today!
SC: Instagram is a huge outlet for us now, reaching global lengths across the board. Would you agree? // MS: Absolutely! Instagram is so much more artistic. I can follow who I want to follow, like what I want to like, and not feel guilty about it. I feel like I’m friends with people on Facebook just because we went to high school together or something. As for promoting re|source designs, social media is definitely the best and easiest way for me to market my products. Hashtags are the shit; I really love them - I mean you can see how many people are talking about the exact same thing you’re talking about, ALL OVER THE WORLD! How awesome is that?
SC: What triggers your creative process? // MS: First Aid Kit or Fleetwood Mac never lets me down. I’m a Stevie Nicks girl. I’ve actually recently found that my creative process has changed significantly since I moved here. Before, when I was working 6 days a week, I was ITCHING to get into the studio to do the work I spent all my working time thinking about. Now that I have a lot of time, I find myself wanting to get my errands done before I can sit down and fully concentrate. Before I’d wake up really early and power through things. Now I wake up, do everyday life stuff, then around 1 PM, I sit down in the studio to start my day there. It’s bizarre. I guess it’s because it’s also my “job” now!
SC: Any trips to NYC soon? We’d love to explore the city with you. // MS: AH, I wish! I have like 5 friends that live there and you’re all requesting a visit! Someday it’ll be in the cards, but not likely this year.
SC: It’s been a true pleasure, and thank you for taking the time to speak with us about the incredible work you’re producing. // MS: Thank YOU! Guys, really. I absolutely LOVE Scrimshaw and the idea’s you’re chasing after! I’m so very honored to be part of it!
P.S. Any Scrimshaw Collective follower will receive 15% off either the quarterly or the yearly subscriptions of The Art of Travel. The promo codes to use are: SCRIMSHAW for the yearly, and SCRIMSHAW15 for the quarterly. These subscriptions will be for the UPCOMING quarter -- Fall 2015 -- based on travels to Munich for Oktoberfest, Paris, Florence, and Chicago!