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Do you have that person on instagram that you follow and, although you’ve never met, you just want to be friends with them?  They inspire you with every post and something about them just feels familiar.  For me, this is Jamel of Melsy’s Illustration. 

At a friends wedding I had made an instagram but didn’t use it for a year after.  I’m not really a selfie kind of person so I didn’t really see the point.  Then, I came across Jamel’s work one day—one of her characteristically chic and fabulous ladies—and had that light bulb moment that this is what instagram is about—sharing what you love with others.

Soon, I started posting my work too.  Although, Jamel had no idea who I was, through following her and her work, I kind of felt like I knew her.  When I decided to take things to the next level and start selling prints in my shop, Jamel was the first person that came to mind to ask.  So this stranger (i.e. me) sent her a message on etsy about where she got her prints printed and what kind of paper she printed on.  I figured that being such a well-known artists it would take a while to hear back from her, if I heard from her at all.  But you know what?  I think she responded back that day.  And, although she lives in Boston (which, coincidentally, is also where my mom is from and where my grandpa lives) and I live in California, she graciously answered all of my questions and gave me the information I needed to start selling prints.  Additionally, besides being surprisingly kind and helpful, she also started following me on instagram and commenting on my artwork! 

To me, her story is a modern day fairytale.  But it’s her story so I’ll let her tell it.  It is my honor to introduce my mentor, Melsy.  (Sound the parade and fireworks now).




Name:  Jamel Saliba aka Melsy

Age:  29

Job Title:  Fashion Illustrator/Owner of Melsy's

Education Background: Bachelor's Degree in Communication Studies/Minor in Psychology

Etsy Shop:


1.     Who is “Melsy” and how did you come up with Melsy’s illustration as the name of your business?

I am Melsy! My mom called me Melsy as a little girl, so that's how the name of my business, "Melsy's Illustration" came to be!

2.     Did you always know that you wanted to be an artist?  If not, what did you think you would be when you “grew up”?

NEVER. My passion was to work for a magazine and live in NYC! :)

3.     Are you a full time Maker/Artist?  If so, how did you make that transition/what was the “tipping point”?

Yes, I am proud to say I am! I started illustrating for the first time two years ago as a hobby/escape from my full time job as a technical writer for a defense company. I started posting my work on social media and gained a lot of recognition from family and friends advising me to start selling my artwork, so I started an Etsy shop at 2am one summer's night in the fall of 2013. I then attended local art fairs around Boston and it pretty much took off from there! A year later  my illustrations were being sold as card sets in over 3k Marshalls, Homegood, and TJ Maxx throughout the country. I recently started working with Bloomingdales and Hallmark and became a vendor at Bryant Park Holiday Shops in NYC. As a self-taught artist, just stumbling upon illustrating a couple of years ago, I NEVER ever though my hobby/passion would turn into a full-time job and lead me to where I am today! It's been such an amazing journey.

4.     You’ve been so popular on social media—I know I am inspired by (and look forward to seeing) your chic illustrations on Instagram—who inspires you?  Who do you follow on social media?

Honestly, EVERYTHING inspires me! I love looking at different fashion blogs like and pinterest for inspiration.

5.     How important do you think social media and/or being a part of a community of other artists/makers, has been to your success?  What is your favorite social media outlet? 

Instagram is by far my favorite social media outlet. It allows you to connect with so many different people and showcase your artowrk in a different light. I credit instagram for most of my success! Without instagram, my work wouldn't have been as visible to so many viewers as it is now.
6.     What is the best part of your job?  And what is the toughest part of it?

The best part is being your own boss. The advantages of having your own business is that you don't have to really answer to anyone and the sky is the limit. The most challenging part is being a one woman show. I do everything my myself, so it's definitely a struggle but I absolutely love it and wouldn't have it any other way!

7.     What is the best advice you have for budding artists/makers/entrepreneurs?

Practice makes perfect and DO NOT EVER GIVE UP or let anyone tell you that you can't do it. Because you CAN! If I can do this anyone can! I had a lot of people tell me not to leave my full time job and have illustrating be a "side job". But I knew I wanted to give it my all and wouldn't have been as successful if I were juggling something else at the moment.

8.     What’s next for Melsy’s illustration?

Right now I'm in NYC and will continue to do this every year at Bryant Park. I'm also hoping to open up a little boutique on day!

9.     What is something that we don’t know about you?

I'm a lefty and never went to school for art! :)



 SO there you have it--sketching her way to the top without being sketchy.  I must credit Melsy for also being part of the inspiration behind my blog.  When I first opened my etsy shop I had no idea what I was doing and (especially being in law school at the time) I definitely didn't have any other friends that were artists.  In opening up about my art, business and life, I hope that with my blog I am able to help and inspire other upcoming artists in the way that Melsy has inspired and encouraged me.


If you are an artist/entrepreneur/maker I encourage you to reach out to someone else that does that too.  All too often we are programed to see others that do similar things as our competition when really they have the potential to be a valuable resource and, if your lucky, a friend.  Who else can better understand your daily struggles in your business than someone else who has gone through them too?  I think we fear reaching out and asking questions because we want to be perceived as having it all together and being successful.  In law school I took a class that focused on how to communicate in business.  My friends and I called it "feelings class" but I actually learned a lot about how to communicate in life.  One thing that stuck with me was the idea that in order to take things in a relationship to the next level, beyond the "hi how are you?" "good thanks" level is to be vulnerable.  It can feel awkward at first and probably seems counterintuitive to share something with someone you don't know very well in order to get to know them well but it is showing this vulnerability that enables you to get passed the surface level.  When you share something that makes you feel vulnerable it immediately makes the other person feel more comfortable around you.  They will likely also share something vulnerable in response, making you feel more comfortable too.  

Think this seems too simple to be true?  Try it out and let me know what happens.  In the meantime, I am so happy that I took that chance to reach out to Melsy or I wouldn't have had the opportunity to interview such an inspirational woman and boss.

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