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Introducing Bay Area Artist Melissa Holden

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I am thrilled to introduce our newest artist to the community, Melissa Holden. She is a Bay Area artist with an affinity for printmaking. Using both block printing and screen printing processes, she designs unique, intriguing prints to liven up your favorite spaces. Her work embraces a minimalist aesthetic of clean, bold shapes and lines, and high contrast. All prints are produced in her sunny California studio using top of the line materials. We had the opportunity to chat with Melissa about her work -- catch the interview below and be sure to browse her beautiful collection here.

What's your background?

I grew up in the Bay Area.  I've always made things and I have always loved art.  I majored in printmaking in college and post college I taught art to kids for about 10 years.  After having my own kids I started making my own work again and it's spiraled into a business that I love!

Can you briefly describe your process for block printing and screen printing?

I make my block prints with a material called gomuban that I cut and carve to create different shapes, layers, and textures.  I mix all my own colors using a process set of oil based inks: magenta (red), yellow, cyan (blue), white, and black.  I love making my own colors and I put a lot of time into making them exactly as I want. 

For the screen prints, I start by drawing my illustrations in pencil and then use black pens to finalize the drawing.  I burn them into screens and print away.

What are you currently working on?

I'm currently working on making illustrations through the combination of block printing and screen printing. I want to have color illustrations that include both the texture of a block print and the flat opaqueness of a screen print.  I have a few already, but I'm trying to have a fuller collection. 

Top three studio essentials?

If  we assume I already have all the tools and materials I have to have, I would say my sketchbook, a lot of clean rags, and good music.

What's your dream project?

I would love to do a huge public art piece, a prominent mural or something of that nature.  Also, I would love to illustrate a book or a New Yorker article…I like to dream big :)

Favorite artist(s) in any field, living or dead?

A few would be Maurice Sendak, David Hockney, and Sally Mann. 

What's the first thing you ever remember making?

I remember making these tiny people at of clay that you could bake in the oven. I remember laboring over them for hours, making tiny fingers and trying to get everything just so.

You live in beautiful Marin County. How does your environment impact your work?

The Bay Area has a lot to offer as far as different kinds of people, food, cities, and nature.  I think all of it impacts what I make.  I love watching people do interesting things, the city, food and I love the outdoors.  I lived in the city for a long time and now out of the city tucked away in the hills. I definitely get a lot of inspiration for patterns, shapes, and colors I see in the natural environment.  I have a few prints that are directly inspired by nature and I think there will continue to be more of that subject matter in my future.

What advice would you give to someone just starting out?

I think the two things I would say are really important are to take risks and have patience.  Nothing happens if you don't put yourself out there and throw your hat in the ring.  The worst thing that can happen is someone will say "no."  I've found my failures and the "no's" only give me more guidance and help me find my way.  The other would be patience.  Be patient in crafting your product the way you want and patient with growing your business…turns out it takes a lot of time and a lot of wrong turns to get to the good stuff!

Ideal Sunday?

My ideal Sunday would be getting to sleep in and then going to the beach with my family for the day.  Having burgers and milkshakes on the beach is always pretty great.  I think I would end the day with some good friends and food in the backyard.


Her art is a must-see and will make a beautiful addition to any modern home. Be sure to check out Melissa's collection here.