Sophistication, redefined: designer Manon Michel makes a statement via a curated print-on-demand boutique

“Free women of black baroque color.” Print by the artist Agostino Brunias from baroque black collection, curated by designer Manon Michel.

If you happen to be an admirer of elegance, sophistication and nobility, Manchester Ink Link’s own web developer/designer, Manon Michel, Manon Virtue collection is worthy of aesthetic attention. With collections such as “vestigial light,” “The stars inside,” and “baroque black,” his seduce (French for allure) is hard to resist.

“I found all this art of royal and dignified people, beautiful depictions of themselves in their daily lives… so I decided to make collections as a statement about all our lost memories,” says Michel .

The virtual store of artist, designer, web developer, culture connoisseur and entrepreneur Manon Michel, Manon Virtue, makes a statement about how black history is viewed and represented through its unique lens. Photo/Simon Michel

Born into a family of Caribbean artists, Michel was inspired to assemble her own virtual perspective on art after discovering print-on-demand services that are disrupting the traditional way of shopping in a sustainable way – not without a few enthusiasts. coaxing from his sister-in-law.

“My sister-in-law, Jessie, an expert in antiques and high-end items, did real estate sales. She knows her business. She was helping decide (what to put in the collection) and it turned into this monster collection because my sister-in-law needs some swag,” Michel says, with a hearty laugh.

Michel’s collection includes clutches, phone cases, spiral notebooks, throws, pillows, apparel and more showcasing his design aesthetic to elevate obscure artwork and photography, and changes the narrative by presenting its subject – 16th and 19th century people of color – through an uncommon lens.

“You don’t see a lot of art depicting black people or people of color in history in a positive way. They are most often portrayed as servants, or victims of abuse, or harmful caricatures,” explains Michel.

I had the opportunity to interview Michel about his virtual museum below.

Black Baroque Musical Interlude Pouch.

CC: What touches you in art?

MM: I do not know how to explain it. All this makes me extraordinarily happy. I’m a very visual person, that’s what it is. I am a maximalist. So everything I do has to have a lot of color and verve. I visualize everything in my head and used to draw and paint when I was in high school. Then, of course, when I became a graphic designer and you’re on a computer 10 hours a day, you kind of lose that. But thanks to my family’s artistic inclination, I was able to turn to computer art and so I became a commercial artist. I was still making art, even though the tool was different. It’s all colors and all shapes. How can I explain this? Chocolate is my favorite cake. I can’t explain why chocolate is my favorite cake. I love it and can’t explain why. I like art. It’s just something I grew up with and something inside of me that makes me want to wake up every morning and be surrounded by it; to do it.

Print: “Zulu Woman”, from the Vestigial Light collection.

I like my job. The thing is, I’m not a Van Gogh, but the work I do makes people incredibly happy. I can make a website for a client, and she’ll be like, wow, this is the most beautiful thing, then come back and say her business grew 300% because of what I did for her. I have a certain aesthetic, and I think it’s influenced by the art around me. I may or may not use a trend, but that’s not what the site is about. The goal of the site is to make people visit your website and they like it so much that they say it is wonderful on the eyes. So I approached the shop site the same way, making it as easy on the eyes as possible, and a great experience. At one point I said, Whoa, it’s a museum shop without a museum! One of the sites I go to all the time for inspiration was the MET Museum, because this museum is my favorite place in the world. You know, when I was living in New York, if I was depressed, I would go, say on a rainy day, to the MET Museum. I was so happy to be sitting there surrounded by art.

CC: What are your favorite pieces?

MM: My favorite piece? It changes every day because I’ve been watching this thing for six months. There are times when I really hate my site. Like, I can’t look at you anymore. One of my favorites is the “Master of Hounds”. He wears the finest cloth, the outfit, the sword, then the hounds on the side and the greenery, and you can tell he is very proud of his position as master of the hounds. It’s one of my favorites. Another favorite is “Berber Bride” because it doesn’t have that weird plastic surgery look. If you look closely at her face, you realize that she has tattoos on her eyebrows and on her chin. All that beautiful jewelry, and her outfit. I’m in love with her. Everything about her is beautiful.

“Master of Hounds” notebook illustrated by Jean-Léon Gérôme.

The funny thing about another piece of art, “Free Women of Color”, is her servants. All the women there are free. But the darker women serve the lighter-skinned women. I love this painting. But it also tells you the story of colorism, it tells a story that you can’t run away from, even if people try to run from the truth. So I have favorites, and then I have no favorites. And then I say to myself, I love you all. You are all my children.

CC: If someone visits your website and wants to know more, what would you tell them?

MM: I put the names of the artists in the descriptions. Someone told me not to and just put the art on it. I said no, because it is also a learning experience. So I put the artist’s name on those that aren’t mine. Most of them are artists who only record what they have seen. It was like a photographer’s studio.let me paint this person”, because, you forget – a lot of artists were just making a living.

From the Stars Within Astrology Collection: Virgo pillow, Gemini mini print, Aries cell phone case, Leo baseball t-shirt.

CC: I love these shopping bags, these clutches. What’s coming in the future?

MM: It’s a last minute thing that I put, these covers. I was like, do people still use them? Then my sister-in-law was like, Yes, they do! My son helped me design the clothing section. And he was the one who told me to make phone cases. This is how his generation, Generation Z, devours art.

I’m making kitchen utensils next season. I have an entire line actually half designed. I make more mugs, aprons and trays. I might make ice buckets because those are very cool, and since the COVID thing people have had a surge of interest in home bar carts. I also do a collection on the diaspora. It will basically be the Caribbean. But I’m going to make a collection not just about black people, but about people around the world who leave their country to better their lives, or if they’re forced to leave as refugees; people who straddle different worlds. Basically, it’s about human migration. But I also wanted my store to be more than just a statement about racism, I want it to be for everyone. So, I mixed the zodiac with that…because everyone, no matter what part of the world you’re from, everyone has their perspective on the zodiac.

I hope people will go to my shop and buy something, and when they get this beautiful thing, I hope it will make them happy. I also hope people find that the time (shipping time) isn’t prohibitive because all the little stores, beyond Amazon, all the independent stores, they try so hard to give you something thing with love and care, through the postal system. And when you open the package and finally get this beautiful item, it’s worth it. In the end, I’m just a commercial designer. But I’m also a commercial designer with some experience, and I hope that experience informs you in a beautiful way. Everything is a statement piece. It is exactly what it is. It’s ultimately about my art, how I see art, how I see art, and how art can transform, even in the smallest of ways.

About Wesley V. Finley

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