Home Decor Interview:
If decorating for the holidays is your thing, then you'll definitely want to
know all about
The Holiday Queen, as she is known, Melissa creates art like you've never seen
before. Dripping with mischievous creativity, her innovative work ranges
from ghostly glee to Christmas clownery, and all celebratory points in between.
In short, Melissa is a genius, and an inspiration to anyone who wants to carve a
niche of their own, receive recognition for it, and make money with it.
Melissa is living the American dream, and she's the exact kind of person we like
to feature here.
Let's please sit down with Melissa Valeriote and pick her brain, and then be
sure to head on over to
and check out her portfolio. You'll be amazed!
1. Hi Melissa, thanks for joining us today. Please take a moment to
briefly introduce yourself and tell us about your blog ("The
Fantastical World of Holidays") and online stores.
Greetings! My name is Melissa and I am the mastermind behind my
Merriment. I create year round one-of-a-kind pieces of art
that pay homage to holiday mischief and lore.
My journey in this creative
business is long with many unpredictable twists and turns. I graduated from
college with a Fine Arts degree, got married and immediately entered the
corporate world of advertising for about 12 years.
After my second daughter was
born I knew that I could no longer keep up with the demands of both work and
home so I decided to restructure my career and said goodbye to corporate life.
With the help of sites like
FaceBook and Twitter, I have been able to build an online storefront and
global internet presence
making it possible for me to achieve a balance between both home and
2. When we first saw your products, we thought we had been
transported to a real-life "Corpse Bride" movie set! Your art is adorable, and
since Halloween is my favorite holiday, I fell in love with your work.
Where on Earth do you come up with some of your ideas, such as the unique
At the risk of sounding cliché I have to admit that inspiration is all
around me everyday. It comes from the most unlikely places, I only need
to shift my point of view.
For instance, the theater idea came to me
when I was stacking a bunch of small, leftover boxes to be put away in
a closet. The boxes stacked in a certain position reminded me of a
puppet theater from childhood. The wheels started spinning and I was
off. I like how the theaters act as a frame for my little characters, capturing
their mischievous expressions for a moment in time.
3. The attention to detail in your work is immediately evident. Please
briefly explain your process of creating a typical piece of art from the moment
an idea jumps in your head to the moment you finish it and put it up for sale.
Sometimes I begin a piece with a small, quick sketch while other times I begin
by rolling a ball of clay in my hands, letting the creative process cast its
spell, taking on a life of its own. Even when I begin with a sketch there is no
guarantee that the finished piece will resemble the original concept.
I always begin with heads. Once the facial expression is sculpted, the
personality is revealed and I know just how to finish, dress and decorate the
final piece to complement the character within. After a day or two of drying
sculpted clay body parts, the pieces are assembled onto wire armatures. The
decorating process begins by painting and gluing festive costumes and trims onto
the figures. With knobby noses and glittered grins the transformation from paper
clay to mischief merry maker is completed with some sort of vintage inspired
hand held toy or wand, party hat or crown.
4. Nancy Malay told us that Easter was her busiest holiday in terms of
customer orders. For you, is it safe to assume that Halloween is your busiest
Yes, Halloween is a very busy holiday season for me but I am noticing that
Christmas and Valentine's Day are gaining in popularity with a lot of my
This past Valentine's Day was pretty hectic for me. I created some
Halloween themed Valentines that I sold in my Etsy shop that kept me busy.
though it's not quite Spring I'm already in full Halloween mode stock piling
pieces for the upcoming Tinsel and Treasure show in September.
5. Speaking of Halloween, what is it about that particular holiday that
made you decide to focus the majority of your work around it? Is it the
limitless creative opportunities Halloween offers, or are you drawn to it for
Being born in the month of October may have something to do with my
falling prey to Halloween's spell. Growing up in the Midwest, surrounded by
fantastical fall imagery and memories of magical nights spent scurrying from
door to door hunting for trick-or-treats are treasured moments. It is the one
holiday where mischief is encouraged, magic is celebrated and reality blurs with
fantasy. Halloween is truly enchanting and has all the right ingredients for an
artistic mind to conjure up wicked and wondrous bits of whimsy.
6. So many kids today are not exposed to enough art, and schools are
dropping art programs in order to cut costs. Where did you first discover your
talent and love for art, and do you hope to teach it to others one day?
It saddens me to hear that schools are continually dropping art programs because
of budget cuts. These are difficult and uncertain times and the collateral
damage from the economic downturn will unfortunately wreak havoc on our already
hurting public school system.
But I'm a firm believer that education begins at home. Parents have so many
opportunities to expose their children to the arts everyday without ever
spending a dime. Some of my fondest childhood memories are of the times I spent
drawing pictures and giving them as gifts.
Delighting in the reactions from the recipients, I knew early on that these
pieces I created were really small tokens of love, connecting me to family and
friends. It is that joyful connection that keeps me creating to this day. I am
currently looking into some teaching opportunities that have been coming my way.
Another unplanned twist and turn on my creative journey... I'll keep you posted.
7. You have been featured in several magazines for your unique style of
art. How does it feel to be recognized so widely for something you devote
such a big part of your life to?
Every now and then something truly amazing happens and suddenly your
world is full of possibilities.
Being published was one of those moments when I
felt the shift of the axis of my world, my stars aligned validating my chosen
profession making it possible for me to continue on this path.
It was a defining
moment for me that I won't soon forget.
8. Melissa, thanks again for sharing your time with us. For the last
question, please tell us about the most satisfying part of your job. Is it
the actual creation of your art, is it your customers' satisfaction, is it the
recognition you receive, or is it something else?
At the end of the day it's about enriching my life through joyful connections.
Through my art I have met generous souls, kind artists and
dear friends. I am discovering that we all share a common thread of wanting to
connect to other like minded spirits where we can inspire and encourage each
other to continue on our chosen paths that feed our souls.
We want to thank Melissa for sharing her time with us. Her products are
delightful so please head over to the
Holiday Queen right now
and place an order in time for the next holiday season. Thanks Melissa,
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