I visited artist and illustrator Maria Schoettler in her sun-drenched West Oakland shared studio. The large, open space gives each studiomate working space with an oversized utility table in the center, made by her dad. You can tell the space is loved, with warm touches of home and a cozy pink couch and functional kitchen with fresh flowers. Maria's work is a celebration of the seasons filled with produce and flowers (mostly California natives).
How did you get your start as an artist and illustrator? I've always been an artist in one way or another, since I was a little girl. One of my favorite pastimes as a child was drawing and painting: creating images of my "ideal world", perfect neighborhoods of little houses, rolling hills, flowers, family, things of my imagination. Growing up, I was also involved in performing arts: dancing, singing lessons and performing regularly at the local dinner theater. I attended magnet programs for the arts in middle and high school. In college I majored in visual art and never really stopped painting from that point onward. I was always fitting art into my life, even when I was working full time at a Montesssori pre-school in the Oakland hills. As a young college graduate, I wanted to be an artist with a capital "A", but didn't really know what that would look like as an adult with bills to pay. So I started doing what was fun and enjoyable, working on paper, doing little illustration projects for myself that that possibility started to take shape. I made my first "seasonal produce calendar" in 2009 for my own kitchen and it wasn't until friends and family started wanting one for themselves that I put it together that people might actually want to buy! It all went from there and it's been a long road being able to make a living off of my artwork and I'm so grateful I've been able to find a way.
How would you describe your style? My style is very vintage inspired and eclectic. I love color and unexpected combinations. I've always felt like I was born in the wrong era, because I love objects from the past so much - be it music, clothes, home decor and art. The 1970's is one of my favorite era's to draw inspiration from as far as my home and wardrobe. Stylistically my artwork is very nature-focused, and I love how delicate natural objects can be and how they provide a way to explore and play with composition and color.
What are some of the things you enjoy most about your studio? I love how much light comes in from the skylights and windows. But most of all I love being around my fellow makers that also work in the space. There's so much value in having other creative people to look at your work and give feedback and collaborate with. I'm an extrovert by nature, so I get so much joy from having human interaction throughout my work day. Some days, it makes work not feel like work!
What are some of your favorite places in Oakland? I love Redwood Regional for hiking and getting a nature fix. I love getting outside. I regularly walk at the Mountain View Cemetery which has been a really meaningful place for me since I moved to Oakland eleven years ago. It's such a special place - the grounds have beautifully kept gardens (tulips to die for in the spring!) and the views of the Bay Area are unparalleled as far as a place accessible to the public. Another fixture in my Oakland life is the Temescal Farmer's market on Sundays and the Tuesday Market on the Oakland/Berkelely border, it's where I get my food for the week and very often, a shopper's high. From a glass of wine, I love Ordinaire on Grand. Ramen Shop for really quality ramen incorporating seasonal veggies and a simple and fun dinner out. A16 for authentic Neoploitan pizza. The list goes on...