Natural Socialite

Interview w/ Artist & Designer Melanie LaRocque

In Art & Beauty, Interviews, Natural Hair, Socialite Says on May 18, 2011 at 9:43 am

I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to find & meet Melanie LaRocque online after falling in love with photos of her work on the internet.  Melanie was so gracious to allow me to interview her and get a sneak peek into the mind of an artist.  I was floored by her down to earth personality and her willingness to speak to me; someone who was merely a fan. I am very honored to share my interview with the one and only ShayGon…


Please give us a brief bio, where you are from and how you started in this field?

My name is Melanie LaRocque and I am a self-taught  Artist-Designer-Maker.  I use the name “Shay” for my creative work which is a Melanie-revised- shortened-version of my Yoruba name: Olusegun (pronounced “O-lu-see-gon) .  It loosely means “God will help me to Conquer”.  I am a proud London-born, Trini-bred citizen who splits her life between the UK and the Caribbean.  Before becoming a full-time Artist, I studied law and worked in IP and Anti-Piracy within the Pharmaceutical, Creative & Technology Industries. However, I always harbored a dream of owning a shop or studio someday where I could create, design and teach something artist all day long because Art was my release.  I am always drawing something.  I doodle when I’m really concentrating and I always put a creative slant on anything I do.  Then in 2008 I discovered Etsy, which is an online marketplace.   I instantly knew that a change was coming.   I set up my online shop “ShayGon” and began the long walk towards my dream. 

When did you first discover your creative talents?

I didn’t.  Creating was simply a part of me -as common as eating, drinking and sleeping.  I thought everybody needed to create and that it was a natural part of life.  But my earliest memories start with my mum who used to set me homework from the moment I could hold a pencil.  My siblings used to come home from school with their work and I wanted to do some too.  So my mum would give me a piece of paper and a pen or pencil and say: Draw me a story.  So I did.  When I finished, I would sit down and “read” it to her.  I drew her so many stories and she kept them. I never stopped drawing stories until I started my degree.    

Could you tell us about some of your work?

Hmmm, I normally start with a feeling which was triggered by an experience.  I try to capture it whilst leaving room for questions . I think that it’s important that my paintings can be interpreted.  Someone, somewhere must be able to “get it”.  Otherwise, what’s the point? 

I usually draw people – especially women – black women to be precise – because I am one and I have been raised, taught, encouraged, cut-down, motivated up and laughed with them all my life.  So I simply paint what I know and I know what I feel..

 How will you describe your style?

Eclectic.  –which is code for “never-would-have-thought-of –putting –those-two-things-together” lol.   I don’t know if I have a particular artistic style – I’ve never had my worked assessed by an art critic – but I know that I am influenced by sights, sounds, smells and my heart.  So I take these treasures and mash them all together in a way that somehow works.  I also refer to my style as urbanite because I’m a cosmopolitan city girl who has old-fashioned values and ethical principles.

 Do you have a favorite artist? Or artists that inspire you?

I don’t have a favorite artist just like how I don’t have a favorite color.  I love anything that moves me whether it’s art, music, a bag, a shoe, a dinner set lol. I’m open to anything creative. But if I had to drop a few names of established people whose work I admire, I would say Matisse, Picasso, Rembrandt, Alvin Kofi, Kehindi Wiley, Chidi Okoye, Chris Ofili, Boscoe Holder, Jacob & Gwen Knight Lawrence, Kadir Nelson… the list goes on. 

Share with us something funny that has happened to you recently.

The funniest thing that’s append recently is my 1 year old daughter shouting “ahhh-MENNN” at the end of Pastoral prayer the other day.  And when people turned around and looked at her laughing, she just said it again with a look on her face that said “Say it like you mean it!”


Describe yourself in 5 words.

Oooo!  That’s a hard one.  I had to go away and drink some tea before answering this one lol.  But think this best describes me:

Sometimes falls but always rises…


Any words of advice for aspiring designers/artists?

Keep it real.  Express your heart and don’t overthink things.  Be open and flexible to possibilities. See difficult situations as opportunities to polish and perfect your work.   That’s the difference between manufactured and organic work. 

This path is not easy so be prepared to work hard, encounter disappointments and feelings of failure.  The key is to not to give up.  Take a break, hit the pause button, but don’t chuck in the towel.

People talk about being discovered, but the real discovery is the one they made when they recognized their talent and nurtured it. 

Remember that life is more than you…

Lastly, how can we reach you in order to purchase your beautiful artwork?

So many ways to hook up with me:

Online Shop:


I also have a Facebook Page (search “ShayGon”) and I am on Flickr.

Of course, you can always contact me by email:

Thank you for your time Melanie. Peace & Love.

Melanie has been so gracious to set up a coupon code for my readers that will entitle you to a 20% discount on all purchases until November 30th, 2011.  Just enter the coupon code SOCIALITE in her ETSY online shop

You can also use this coupon more than once, so don’t miss out on your chance to own a piece of her beautiful artwork!


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