Art Baby Girl Studio Tour
Grace Miceli (aka Art Baby Girl) is the Brooklyn-based artist, curator and designer who we’re constantly double tapping on Instagram. Her hand-illustrated coloured marker drawings are equal parts nostalgic and modern, referencing pop culture but drawn with an unmistakably irreverent and satirical sense of humour, which has made us big Art Baby Girl fans here at Oaf HQ.
On a recent trip to NYC, we were lucky enough to get the opportunity to snoop around the pink paradise treasure trove that is Grace’s Bushwick apartment, get acquainted with her bearded dragon Drew Barrymore plus tackle the big issues like UFO’s, Furby’s and what it takes to make it as a freelance artist in New York City…
Date: 13th February 2018
Photography by: James Rees
Hi Grace! Thanks for having us in your Bushwick studio-slash-apartment – it’s such a great space! How long have you lived here and what’s your favourite corner of your home?
I moved in this summer. I love the wall above my couch because it features art by some of my friends and favourite artists and I love my “Bunny nose pink" walls.
What’s the weirdest thing we’d find in your studio?
The fake head of lettuce I made during my last trip to Tokyo.
And your most prized possession?
My Furby and my sticker collection.
What do you like about living and working in NYC?
I love that there is a really great creative community here and always art to see, talks to listen to and concerts to go to. I love the Brooklyn Public Library! It can be exhausting here but whenever I travel for work I find myself missing it so much.
If you could move anywhere else in the world though where would it be?
I fantasize about moving to the middle of the woods and having lots of dogs and no cell phone, but I think in reality I would be really bored and lonely haha.
"I try my best to use what privileges I have to support artists with less access because so many people did the same for me when I was starting out. "
How did you start getting into drawing and when did you realise you could make a career out of your art?
I didn’t start to draw really until the end of art school. I wasn’t feeling inspired by my photography (what I have a degree in) but as soon as I started to draw with markers on my bedroom floor it felt so fun and like I was finally able to truly express myself. I’ve only worked full-time as a freelance artist for about two years and it’s still totally a challenge. I’m so grateful for all of the help and support I’ve had along the way but it took years working a full-time day job and spending all my free time making art before I was able to make the transition. I know I’m so lucky that this is my job and there are definite perks to being your own boss, but there are also so many difficulties so I think it’s important not to completely glamorise it.
Where did the name Art Baby Girl come from?
I don’t know exactly, but I remember sitting on the couch watching TV when I was living in Brooklyn for a summer before I graduated and was always working and exhausted but falling in love with the city and all of its possibilities. When I came up with the name I was feeling really new and young to the realities of being a working artist. A lot has changed since then but I want to always remember that no matter where I’m at in my career there is always more to learn, so I still find the name to be very relevant.
You have a lot of your friends’ artwork up on the walls, is it important to you to create and represent a supportive network of fellow artists?
Definitely! I think building a supportive community is vital no matter what you do. I try my best to use what privileges I have to support artists with less access because so many people did the same for me when I was starting out.
"While showing work online is great because it can be seen from anywhere there is an intimacy and level of legitimacy that showcasing work in a physical space allows. "
Your online space Art Baby Gallery offers a platform for emerging digital artists to show their work, but you’ve also produced ‘IRL’ exhibitions internationally (including Girls At Night On The Internet in NYC), what made you want to make the move from online to offline?
While showing work online is great because it can be seen from anywhere there is an intimacy and level of legitimacy that showcasing work in a physical space allows. When I started the project I had no choice but to have it live online and it always will, but I’m excited that I’ve had opportunities to curate in other spaces as well, it allows the work to be experienced on a whole other level - it’s really special.
We love the fact your work comes from a love of 80’s and 90’s nostalgia and pop culture but at the same time references internet culture and modern technology… is that a juxtaposition you consciously want to explore?
Thank you! I think those references naturally coexist for me, growing up in the 90s all of that imagery was idly around me and while I love nostalgia I’m bored by it if it’s not reinterpreted through the present, that seems too escapist for me. I don’t find cute interesting alone, but I like to explore its relationship to darkness. I recently described the goal for my work to a friend as Lisa Frank meets Werner Herzog haha, so I guess that’s what I’m going for.
What’s your favourite project you’ve ever worked on or piece you’ve created?
Creating visuals for SZA to announce her 2017 tour was such a dream. The project was art directed by Sage Adams who is such a talented artist and I’m still in disbelief that I got to make animations for one of my favourite musicians.
We noticed some UFO related books and photos in your studio – do you think we’ll ever discover the truth?
There’s no way it’s only us out there! I believe the government already knows about so many supernatural realities but I’m not confident they’re going to let us know anytime soon.
Tell us some little-known facts about your bearded dragon, Drew Barrymore…
He loves to listen to classical music.
What’s your favourite Drew Barrymore movie?
Poison Ivy for the clothing/style & Never Been Kissed for the story.
What are Drew Barrymore’s favourite pieces from our Spring collection?
The Splatter Pants!
With Art Baby Girl clothing / merch / homewares, you make the crossover between artist and designer – what’s the appeal of making clothing vs art and would you want to make more in the future?
I love how accessible clothing and my other merchandise is, it’s affordable and with lots of younger fans that is really important to me. I really want to do a ceramics line, sticker book and stuffed animals.
What’s up next for Art Baby Girl in 2018?
I have a few collaborations with some of my favourite brands coming out and another mural! I’m also excited to start producing some video projects and I really want to finally make an animated series.