When I was in college I was pretty nerdy and mainly kept to myself. My obsession with "staying on top of it" consisted of taking in-depth notes of everything that was on the screen and beyond... specifically my cool classmates. The art school at University of Houston was full of inspiring artists and creatives that all carried individual dreams. One lady who stuck out to me was Michelle Yue. Michelle Yue is now a multi-disciplinary creator who currently works as a jewelry designer for Shopnonhuman and singer/synthesizer for Matsu Mixu. She and I managed to have both Pre-Colombian Art and Latin American Art together. I always took note of her amazing taste and the kindness she spread to people. I remember telling her once in class that I had worked at Anthropologie and she and I bonded over Voluspa candles. It was nice!
Soon after we graduated I started to follow more of her *diverse* work. She posted experimental photos of her jewelry designs and her music on Instagram. One day I was visiting Settlement Goods + Design in Montrose (miss that store!) and I learned that this was one of the first local places that sold her brilliant lucite collars. After Michelle was featured in CAMH's Texas Design Now her pieces became available for sale in the museum's gift shop. Today I see them around the necks and wrists of my friends. Michelle's work certainly "echoes the future, the everyday, and the past" and mixes minimalistic form with futuristic style. Still not sure if I am more impressed with the quantity she relentlessly creates or her belief in active community collaboration. She is a great inspiration to me and I hope she has a magical move to Portland.
Thank you for blessing us with your creativity Michelle.
What did you study at University of Houston?
Art History with a minor in Psychology.
When did you launch Shopnonhuman?
I started working on Shopnonhuman in 2013.
What are your goals with your jewelry line?
My goal is to create beautiful, wearable pieces that aren't found anywhere else and make them available to the public. I started making jewelry because there were so many pieces I wanted but couldn't find. I was really hesitant, originally, about the lucite pieces - but they ended up being my most popular work! I'd like to one day have a store full of beautiful objects - jewelry, clothing, furniture, decor, etc.
What was it like to be featured in Texas Design Now at CAMH?
It was an absolute dream and such an honor to be paired with so many designers I admire! It was definitely the highlight of my year in 2015.
How did you feel when you saw your design in the Stella McCartney photo?
I felt shock, fury, then sadness. It was a huge lesson to me about the fashion industry. I've come to learn that big fashion houses steal, or are "inspired by", indie designers all the time! Someone said to me: "Fuck Stella. Keep making beautiful work." I'm just going to continue designing. Read the story here.
You are so talented. What is like a multi-disciplinary artist? How does your brain balance all of the mediums?
Thank you! *blush* I think it's like learning different languages - working on multiple mediums expands the mind. I don't see myself committing to only one medium, ever. I balance them all by "taking breaks" from one project to focus on another. When I'm tired of making jewelry, I make music. I also love painting, drawing, photography, and writing.
How was Matsu Mixu formed? What is the future of this project?
It was actually a small project that started almost as a joke. Mathew, my boyfriend and partner in Matsu Mixu, and I decided to combine our efforts into an experimental EP. We started performing for Cirque Noir, one of Houston's amazing underground music parties. Matsu Mixu started garnering enough attention for me to switch gears into making it a main priority.
What have you learned since you started these projects?
- Everyone experiences self-doubt at times.
- The only person I need to compete with is my best self. How can I be better?
- Support your hard-working friends and their projects, too!
- Opportunity is everywhere, and the best opportunities are often unexpected. Make sure you're always on top of your game so that when an opportunity arises, you can meet it knowing you've done your best.
- Geoff Hippenstiel, an amazing painter from Houston, once told me that momentum is the most important attribute to an artist's working ethic. So I've learned to not give up, no matter how down I get sometimes. (...But breaks are okay, too!)
I loved running into you at Day for Night. What was your favorite performance from that festival?
Day for Night was such an incredible experience! I'm so proud of Houston for having such a brilliant festival. I really loved Josiah Gabriel (local Houstonian!) and how he featured other artists during his live set. I fell in love with life during Flying Lotus. Kendrick Lamar was also treat!
How was your trip to Philadelphia? Any recommendations?
It was so beautiful (but cold)! I stayed in the heart of Chinatown with my friend, which was such a cute area! I recommend eating the spring roll platter at Le Viet and shopping at Je Ne Sais Quoi on Antique Row (where you can find a bunch of great little shops).
Je Ne Sais Quoi is a beautifully curated resale shop started by Brian Vy. He carries designers like Rick Owens, Celine, Alexander Wang... All pieces to drool for at great prices. Here's a write up on his store.
What's next for you? What do you hope to achieve?
I'm moving to Portland, Oregon on March 28. While there, I'd like to really focus on designing and music. I have so many new pieces / songs in my brain that I need to materialize! I think Portland is a city that will inspire me and nourish my spirit.