Interview with Michelle Nahmad
Coming from generations of immigrants from Syria, Panama, Poland, Russia, and Costa Rica, Michelle is invested in examining culture and exploring history in my design, illustration, and narrative work. She combines elements of the handmade or analog with the digital, bringing old world and new world subjects and tools together. Originally from Miami, Florida, she received her BFA in Communication Design and Art History at Washington University in St. Louis and her MFA in Visual Narrative at School of Visual Arts.
She is currently based in Brooklyn and available for freelance projects. View her portfolio here.
Hi Michelle! Could you please tell us a bit more about the work and projects you've focused on in 2018?
Hello there! So 2018 was a mix of illustration, design, animation, art direction on a number of different projects. Thinking back, one of my favorites is probably creating some stop motion pieces for Kidding on Showtime, which was a lot of fun.
Cultural history is a large component of your work. What are some design and illustration projects you've completed that exemplify this?
I think that some of the pieces that most directly speak to this interesting culture history are my short film The Shohet and my illustrated book Bruja, which are both set in a Jewish community in Costa Rica. That is where some of my family came from and going beyond some of those personal stories, I think that I try to approach just about every project I touch with that similar sense of research and specific storytelling both because it's something that fascinates me even outside of my own history and I think that it really just adds a richness to so many things.
What is your design process? What are the main softwares and tools you utilize in your work?
Well my process, very slightly depending on the project, I'd say that it almost always starts with really intensive research and getting to the root of what the story is or what the thing that I'm solving for is. And it also starts in a really analog way, I'm someone who seems to understand things best I have to sketch or write things out on a real physical notepad. But that being said, in the next steps I use all of the Adobe Suite in next stages of developing my sketches or making marks throughout to till the final product whatever that may be. But the truth is whenever I have a chance to get off my computer and paint or cut things or make things by hand and then mash it up with the digital tools. That's where I really get excited about doing.
Who have been some of your biggest clients? What are the main sectors you collaborate with?
At the agency I'm at, we work with a number of entertainment clients and I've had the chance to work with Showtime on Patrick Melrose and Escape at Dannemora and Kidding. And I worked on some IFC related work and the Film Independent Spirit Awards and I'm currently working on a Hulu project for their show Pen 15 which is a lot of fun.
What's next for your work as a freelance designer and illustrator? What are the main projects and partnerships you'll be focusing on throughout the year?
Well I look forward to continued work with the clients I've been working with and some exciting upcoming shows that I'll be working on. I think something that I look forward to, coming up, is just working on some of my own more self-directed projects be it comics or short film or illustration. I'm just getting back to some more of my own writing and creative development. So I look forward to carving out time and space for those endeavors.