We had the good fortune of connecting with Michelle Martin and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Michelle, do you have a favorite quote or affirmation?
A quote I’m really fond of is “so it goes” by Kurt Vonnegut from the novel “Slaughterhouse-Five”. It has a similar meaning to “c’est la vie” or “that’s life” and serves as a reminder to not take myself too seriously, mainly on things I do not have control over. Instead, it helps me focus on what I truly want out of life, what brings me happiness, and what to let go of. Ultimately, it motivates me to try new things because if it works out– cool; if it doesn’t, it’s a lesson learned. So it goes. This was important when I finally took the plunge to open up my Etsy shop to sell my artwork. I knew there were many things I didn’t know about owning a small business and I say this after completing my first year of taxes since opening up my shop! It hasn’t been easy and I’m constantly having to make adjustments to how much time I’m able to put into it since I still work full time in another job. Ultimately, it’s been very rewarding and I haven’t lost the sense of creating art for art’s sake.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Although I’ve always been a creative person, I started to really explore calligraphy, lettering, and watercolors in graduate school as a way to help with my anxiety. It’s a very calming hobby that can require structure in some ways and freedom on the page in others. Growing up in Tucson, I evolved to incorporate the desert and plants into my art as well as some of my other hobbies like reading and activism. When I moved to Boston after graduate school, I went through an identity crisis of no longer living in the desert and missing it dearly. My art became more focused on small, sellable pieces and soon my business, Desert and Vine, was created to honor where I came from and where I’m going– like a vine growing upward with support. My Etsy shop has been open for a year now and I sell stickers and pins. This was a great way for me to start because I was able to learn about e-commerce and marketing while also having a stock of items so that I was not solely focusing on commissions. I did this intentionally because I knew there would be a steep learning curve as I adjusted to mailing out orders in a timely manner while still working full-time. Commissions can take an incredible amount of planning time and effort. While, I do take commissions for hand-lettered pieces, calligraphy for wedding invitations, and custom watercolors occasionally, the majority of my time spent on this side business is not a huge lift day-to-day and I’m proud to be able to ship out orders fairly quickly. The journey hasn’t been easy, but it has been a joy to put something in my head onto paper and turn that into an item that can be held by someone else.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I recently moved back to Tucson from Boston and returning back to my favorite places has truly been a joy. I missed this city so much. For places outdoors, I love to recommend the Tucson Desert Botanical Gardens, Mt. Lemmon, Sabino Canyon, and the Sonoran Desert Museum. For food, taking friends to Boca Tacos y Tequila on 4th Ave is a must. While on 4th Ave, we’d probably stop by Antigone’s Books and maybe Ermanos/Portal Bar for drinks. I personally love sitting with a friend to catch up at Revel Wine Bar, just off 4th Ave on 9th Street. Since returning to Tucson, I’ve been introduced to Tumerico, The Gardens at Bear Canyon, and The Coronet. They are all incredible. For coffee and tea, I’d recommend Cafe Luce, The Scented Leaf, and Cartel. Lastly, if I had a friend visiting the area and they wanted to do something more active, I’d take them to the bouldering gym Rock Solid, a yoga class like rooftop yoga at Playground through Oasis Yoga, or one of the many hiking spots just outside town.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am my own worst critic and much too cynical for my own good so I’m grateful for everyone who has cheered me on and encouraged me as I turned my hobby into something bigger. This includes, but is certainly not limited to, my parents, who always supported whatever new thing I wanted to try; my sister, who is a much better artist than I am and who I have always tried to emulate; and my best friend for being my biggest supporter and gave me the push to start selling my art. I also want to thank the lettering community on Instagram. I joined this community during grad school and during what was a very challenging time in my life. The community was very welcoming, provided a lot of motivation to get a lot of practice in, and provided me with constant inspiration. I’m so thankful to the friends I made through this.

Website: https://www.desertandvine.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/desertandvine/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/desertandvine

Other: TikTok: https://www.tiktok.com/@desertandvine

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.