Melissa Whitaker is an artist and illustrator that brings vitality to her work and sometimes, a bit of humor. Growing up in a family that emphasized expanding knowledge with reading and exposure to multiple cultures helped create some ingenuity in Melissa. Her early influences of Playboy magazine and graphic novels is translated in to her artwork, bringing emotion, movement and a little sexuality to her work. The works range from childish wonderment, images that contain a colorful palette that explodes the senses, to a subtle sensual freedom of expression that has been called a “wicked style.” Melissa Whitaker calls it all Pop Graphic Noir.
After years of working and living a life that others deemed appropriate for her, she left the real estate business and devoted her time to being a full-time illustrator. When not creating, you might find her hiking in the woods or venturing down an unknown highway to discover what’s around the bend.
Her works have been exhibited in Los Angeles, San Francisco, Kansas City, St. Louis, Murray, Kentucky, and Cape Girardeau, and Sikeston, Missouri. Whitakers’ work is collected by several individuals and companies in Texas, Georgia, Colorado, California, New York, New Jersey, Florida, Wisconsin, Kansas, and Missouri. Her commissioned work includes restaurants, medical offices, real estate offices, day cares, authors and musicians for their cover art. Currently she is the illustrator for Free Agent Source in Santa Monica, California and Madpipe in Brooklyn, New York.
Could be the mantra in Southeast Missouri, where I grew up. The thing is, though; good enough isn’t always good enough. It could be better.
This is what keeps me up at night. A constant need to do better. Not being better than others or because of others, but a better world, a better life, a better ME and all of that goes into my art. For years I lived a life others expected; college, marriage, children, and a “respectable” career in real estate. That’s what others expected and not what I wanted and then, several years ago, I took the left turn instead of the right and I found something better. Life as ME, the artist.
I have a new drug. It’s called an iPad and an Apple Pencil. Although I am versatile in several various mediums, my primary medium has become digitally drawing on my iPad. I enjoy taking more traditional artwork and manipulating it digitally. The foundation of my art has always been graphite and ink then I expanded into working with Acrylic and oil paint. I am constantly learning to use new tools to help my artistic abilities to grow.
My work is a juxtaposition of traditional and digital technology. The intense explosions of color in some of the art, is first created with acrylic paint on canvas and then photographed and imported in to a digital format. It can then be incorporated with my illustrations. Typically the people in my images have a graphite and ink appearance and are set in to a high definition world of color. This is to provide a disconnect from the appearance of race or color, so that the world around them appears to be fantasy. This is all done to bring the viewer a sense of being a part of the image whether through a memory, a dream or a subliminal excitation. In each illustration, I will often place a subtle sense of humor or a hidden image that gives the collector a clue to another part of the story that gives them a personal connection to the artwork. Finding the “Easter eggs” in some of my work entices them to see more.