meet: isabella di sclafani

isabella di sclafani is an artist out of montreal who creates the most enchanting painting and clay sculptures. she has a distinct, strong style that is very captivating. see more for yourself below, and get a strong dose of inspiration!

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what is your background?
i have a bachelor’s degree in painting and drawing from Concordia University in montreal. i began to take a strong interest in painting during my teens. both my parents encouraged me. i'm very lucky to have a dad who's an avid traveller and throughout my childhood my parents brought the whole family on trips to europe and across north america. museums were always the first place to visit in any city that we visited. it definitely left a lasting impression on me.

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how did you start designing and selling?
i sold my first painting when i was 20. my dad ran a typewriter shop for 25 years and during the summers, i would help him out sometimes. one time, i spent the day painting a scene of the back alley behind the shop. my father liked it so much, he displayed it in the front window. soon after, a couple saw it and bought it. that was the beginning. when i graduated from university, i had my work in galleries and clients buying my large scale nude paintings.

i've always sold my work off and on throughout the years even when i was only painting part time. i spent many years working full time in art supply stores and on occasion, the manager would let me display my art in the store windows. i actually sold many paintings this way. people off the street would see my work in the store window and buy them. i remember a man from argentina bought one of my paintings to bring back to his cattle ranch. another lady bought a life-size papier-mâché dog that i had made and brought it on the plane with her back to the states.

when i met my husband and he owned a music store. later on when we got married we included books and my paintings in his shop. tons of tourists came to buy my work during those years.

so i guess selling my work has always been something normal. regardless of what i'm doing in my regular life, i've always found a way to display my work in order to reach the public in some way.

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how did you get into making clay sculptures?
i'm not quite sure to be honest. i began in the early 2000s with a sporadic clay figurine here and there. i also experimented with papier-mâché, but i didn't make much of it at the time. it was only in 2011 that i really began making clay figurines in a serious way. i experimented with different clays and finishes and it took about a year for me to find my "style" as they say. today, my clay figurines are an integral part of my art practice.

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which do you like better: painting or making clay sculptures?
painting. if a couple of weeks go by and i haven't painted, i start to get antsy. making art is an intuitive and a necessary part of my existence. it keeps me sane and happy. for the clay figurines, it depends on how i'm feeling. i can spend months not making a single clay sculpture and than all of sudden i'll make a dozen in one shot. i think both mediums feed off each other. the clay sculptures start from scratch and from my imagination, so it's kind of relaxing for me to make them. the same way when i make landscape paintings...i find those also relaxing to make as well. i guess portraits and nudes are where i have to think harder.

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what inspires you?
everything and anything. i'll go grocery shopping and stop to look at food packaging or stare at the fish counter. drives my family crazy sometimes. i've been known to buy a magazine just for one image. i've also amassed a vast archive of found images over the years from various sources such as fashion magazines, vintage photos, family photos and my own photos.

i'll stare at people on the bus if i become intrigued by their facial features. there are times when i wish i could just pull out my camera and snap photos, but i think that would upset too many people. so i just try and look as much as possible, just like when you're staring at a painting in a museum. you can't take the painting home with you, so you have to soak up as much information as you can and try to use what you retained in your work later on.

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what accomplishment are you most proud of in the past week?
finally getting my studio in order. we moved to a new apartment in may and i've only just finally gotten around to organizing and making the space properly functional and cute looking. it's important that i feel good in my space and since my studio is in my apartment, the entire place has to feel just right. all the rooms and even the big outdoor balcony off my studio has to look good and be organized. i live and work in the same space, so everything is integral to my work productivity as an artist.

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what advice would you give to makers who are just getting started?
work hard. work really hard. it takes hours and hours, day-in and day-out to perfect your technique. and even after all that effort, there's still room for improvement. talent can only get yo so far. and yes, talent does count for something. we're all given a special talent. my father always told me when i was growing up that it was our duty as human beings to use the talent that we were born with so that we can contribute fully to the rest of the world and make it a better and more beautiful place to live in. i think that pretty much sums it up.

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isabella is offering everglow handmade readers a 20% coupon to her etsy with the code 'EVERGLOW20'. coupon is good until august 19th on everything in her etsy except for custom orders.

it's so cool to hear isabella's journey. i love hearing how she has sold her work for almost forever and about all of the different people connecting with her work. and her dad's advice, spot on. thanks so much for sharing with isabella!

be sure to keep up with isabella by visiting her etsyinstagram, blog and website

photos courtesy of isabella di sclafini.