WFH Diaries | With Melissa Donne Studio

Melissa Donne Studio
Melissa Donne Studio

“Chocolate – pre-isolation, during isolation and no doubt post-isolation.” Melissa Donne on her favourite isolation snack

Falling down the Instagram rabbit hole like a digital Alice in Wonderland is often quite high on my morning’s to-do list, and it was during one of these image-littered explorations that I came across the vibrant, compelling work of Melissa Donne Studio. Having launched her brand mid-2019, the illustrator continues to enchant with her explorative digital work and printmaking techniques. Thriving on a bed of botancial inspiration, it’s hard not to fall in love with her innate sense of colour and petal-filled compositions. I managed to catch up (digitally, of course) with Melissa herself, to get the low-down on her lockdown…

Melissa Donne Studio
Melissa Donne

#1 Provide us with three words that sum-up how you were feeling about lockdown when it first started, and then three words about how you feel now:

Before: “Uncertain, perplexed, nervous.”

After: “Surreal, surprised, hopeful.”

#2 What time do you get up? Has this changed? Is life a little slower? Talk to us about your new daily routine…

“Since lockdown began my body clock has been a little messed up – I get up very early, around 5.30am and my six year old often joins me an hour later. So, I have a whole hour of solitude which I actually really relish – it gives me time to think and plan for the day ahead. Before lockdown, mornings were very hectic and involved getting my son ready for school and myself organised as I worked from a studio away from home. I have moved my studio into my house now which has taken some adjusting to, mainly in terms of space! But it means the mornings are a lot calmer and easy to manage which has actually been one really positive outcome of lockdown.”

Melissa Donne Studio

#3 How is lockdown impacting your business, and how can people support you?

“In a perverse way, lockdown has actually really helped my business. Mainly because there has been such a generous movement towards shopping small and with independent businesses like my own. I made a decision early on to support small businesses as best I could – even if it was just buying a few cards from an indie brand, and I think a lot of people have shared this vision. So now, moving forward, I think continuing to shop independent is really important. It’s such a positive step and I really feel shopping habits have changed for a lot of people during lockdown and moved towards a more sustainable approach.”

#4 Name three local businesses you are supporting or would like to support more…

No.1 “I have bought jewellery from Natalie Lea Owen which is beautiful and she has become a good ‘virtual’ friend – connecting with other local makers has been a wonderful side effect of lockdown.”

No.2 “One of my favourite independent stores which stock an amazing selection of clothing, printed goods and accessories is Family Store in Brighton.”

No.3 “I want to support more independent businesses that offer services I require for my line of work, like printers and paper suppliers so I have been doing a lot of research into these. I Love Cookie for example are a small business that provide amazing quality prints. I think not only do you get a strong product but the customer service from small businesses is so important and they often go the extra mile for you as they value your custom and your identity as an individual.”

Melissa Donne Studio

#5 What’s your favourite isolation snack?

“Chocolate – pre-isolation, during isolation and no doubt post-isolation.”

#6 What’s your most recommended quarantine pick-me-up when you’re feeling down?

“Well, I’m lucky enough to live close to the coast and there is nothing quite like a walk along the seafront to dust off the cobwebs and take in some sea air.”

Melissa Donne Studio

#7 What’s the item you can now NEVER find in the supermarket (and consequently dream continuously about)…

“Things have improved a bit recently but at the beginning of the lockdown pasta was in such short supply! So cue many dreams of beige, carb heavy meals with lashings of sauce and cheese.”

#8 What’s the strangest thing that’s happened during your lockdown period…

“I think it has to be being accepted as a Not on the High Street Partner. I have only really been creating and designing for around a year and had applied a while ago and it had slipped my mind. However receiving the acceptance was an amazing feeling – as a company they have been very supportive during covid and I’m so happy to be part of it.”

Melissa Donne Studio

#9 Favourite app for keeping in touch digitally with friends and family?

“Instagram is my go-to social media app. I use it to send messages to close friends and family, but it is how it has functioned as a tool for connecting with other makers that has really benefitted me. I have found so many like-minded people and some of which have become really good friends which during isolation has felt like a real lifeline.”

#10 Name your lockdown hate:

“Missed coffee dates with my best friend.”

#11 Name your lockdown love:

“Having precious time to spend in a family bubble with my husband and son and being conscious that we won’t have this kind of intense experience again.”

Melissa Donne Studio

#12 The person(s) you will hug first when social distancing is no longer in place?

“My mum! She had a health scare just before lockdown so I have missed being able to spend time with her and support her whilst she recovered.”

#13 An act of kindness towards you that you’ve really appreciated?

“I would say I’ve really appreciated general acts of kindness relating to people investing in my work – I’ve had so many messages saying people just wanted to show support for small businesses at a difficult time. Their support and faith in me to make something for them has been really humbling.”

Melissa Donne Studio

#14 Talk to us about what’s new at your brand?

“I’m working on some new designs which I hope to get printed up as Risograph prints soon – I’ve had a few done recently and I’ve really fallen in love with the process and the vibrancy of the colours. I’m still at the early stages but they involve a lot of florals and neon pink.”

#15 Name three things the lockdown has made you grateful for:

No.1 “Family and friendships.”

No.2 “My health and the health of my friends and family.”

No.3 “Being able to illustrate and make and be creative.”

Melissa Donne Studio

#16 Which restaurant will you dine at first once restrictions are lifted?

“A small, local restaurant called Pie Caramba! Which as the name suggests offers the ultimate comfort food.”

#17 What series have you now completed on Netflix? Any recommendations?

Devs by Alex Garland was fantastic – trippy, intelligent science fiction with some beautiful visuals.

For comedy, What we do in the Shadows and I also revisited Bodies by the writer of Line of Duty which is really quite a stressful and visceral experience but one which makes a big impact.”

Melissa Donne Studio

#18 What would be your quarantine book list?

The Buddha of Surburbia by Hanif Kureishi

The Lover by Marguerite Duras

LA Confidential by James Ellroy

Melissa Donne Studio

#19 And, finally, your quarantine cocktail/tipple of choice?

“Some kind of refreshing mocktail with lemon and lavender.”

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