Artist Highlight: Grace Engel / by and Play

We would like you to meet our lovely friend and collaborator, Grace Engle. She made the INCREDIBLE poster for our upcoming Notes on Fiction concert at the Center for Fiction (Thursday, Feb. 11th at 7:30). This concert has not only been a great opportunity for us to bring a story and music together, but also to work with an artist on creating a depiction of this magical world that we want to immerse our audience in. Feast you eyes on this and some of the other pieces that Grace is sharing with us!


Tell us a bit about yourself and what you are up to!

First off, thank you so much for not only approaching me for collaboration, but also for these fun questions!

I've been interested in art my whole life but I only got serious about it in the last few years when I went to an artist residency in Missouri. I spent a year there working on technique and learning from fantastic peers. Through the opportunities offered me by my residency, I was able to open up my Etsy store and actually get some income for my weaving and ceramics. 

Now, I'm working as a Wilderness Recovery Guide in Asheville, North Carolina, and experimenting with my art in some exciting new ways! It really fuels my life and brings a level of joy to each day that nothing else ever has.


How does your collaboration with andPlay fit into your body of work/other collabs that you have done?

I was so thrilled when I heard details about the Notes On Fiction performance and immediately had a lot of ideas running through my mind for the poster. I love working on pieces like this because I was given a few parameters about content, and then told to just run with it and let my inspiration take over. It's really great for me as an artist when I feel like I have a lot of flexibility in a commission and that my developing style can come through naturally. 

A lot of my work is figurative but I deeply enjoy drawing flora and fauna, especially when I can get dense with it. I wanted to bring a youthful aspect to the piece and drew inspiration from some of my favorite illustrators, such as Tove Jansson. I'm really excited about the finished piece and I wish I could attend the concert!

What has been inspiring you lately?

Two things leap to mind; Goauche painting and Pat Perry. I've been using watercolors for years but only got into Goauche recently. It's so much fun to play with and it's a really versatile medium.

Pat Perry has been a favorite artist of mine for several years. I look at his art on a daily basis. He's a role model to me in many ways, since he started going to school for art and then decided to quit and just draw on his own. I used to feel like my art could never live up to my own expectations since I didn't attend an art school, but looking at Perry's independently-developed body of work has been a constant relief and inspiration to me. He is truly committed to his craft. 

Favorite 'nobody-is-watching' snack?

Anybody can watch me eat, and that's a fact. I've been eating dried mangoes like it was nobody's business lately. I will also admit that a lot of chocolate goes into my body on a real frequent basis.


What have you andLiked this week? (Anything from a book, movie, tv show, music, podcast, etc.)

I'm living in a Steinbeck world right now! A few months ago, I read The Red Pony which started this domino effect of me only reading Steinbeck novels. I just finished East of Eden and I was incredibly impressed by it! 

Follow Grace on her instagram

and check out her Etsy shop (Maya carries her pencils and pens around in one of these incredible pouches, and cannot stop showing it off!)