Michelle Rose Gilman pauses for a moment as she describes her three-decade career in the North County art scene to take in the beauty of the Cardiff-On-The-Sea shoreline.
Gilman has lived in the northern enclave for decades, creating music-centered artworks that transform various instruments into wonders of fantasy.
Gilman, who was born in Brooklyn, found her calling after moving to San Diego County in the late-1980s.
She is the daughter of a musicologist, so using instruments as her canvas came naturally, after launching her career selling artistic takes on children’s tables and rocking chairs in Del Mar.
Gilman reflects on her decision to become an artist just before her momentary Pacific Ocean interruption, reflecting on the various modes of artistry she’s employed over the years.
“I have done a lot of things, but one of the things that I have run through my entire life is art, it’s really who I am,” Gilman says.
“So, I’ve always been involved with this creation of an art exhibit before. And I love it, it’s the way that I relax, and lately over the last few years it’s really been escapism from the chaos of the world.”
Gilman’s latest venture is an online art gallery, called FeatherPunk, which allows her to reach a worldwide audience from her home.
Fans of Gilman’s work can purchase a bountiful assortment of items on the site, from her instrument pieces to custom jewelry and painted animal skulls.
She’s found that musicians and record studios in San Diego County and across the nation have been a huge audience for her music-centric work, which is ideal, in her opinion.
Gilman has spent much of the last decade doing philanthropic work, including serving on the board of Rock to Recovery, which aims to use music as a way to heal people through music.
“Music is one of those things that has the ability to totally take you away,” Gilman says. “Music again like art has been a part of my life since I was little, growing up in a household that was full of music, with my dad, and continues to this day with my nonprofit work with Rock to Recovery.”
Gilman’s passion for art has taken many forms over the years, including her time operating the Fusion Academy, which is a middle- and high school private school she launched in Solana Beach in 1989.
That endeavor, which has bloomed from that coastal campus to a network of 60 campuses across California, Connecticut, Florida, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Texas, Virginia, Illinois and Washington, remains one of the hallmarks of Gilman’s life.
Gilman says the endeavor, which encouraged one-to-one education that boosts the morale and productivity of those left out by the traditional education system, has been one of the proudest things she’s been a part of.
Another point of pride for Gilman is the book she put out in 2019, titled “The Wanderlust Warrior Project,” which features eight traits that every young female warrior should possess.
“This book is geared toward young women, and what we’re finding now is that it’s resonating with all women,” Gilman says. “So, moms are buying it for their girls, but they’re also buying it for themselves, it’s fascinating.
“And what it does, it’s basically an empowerment inspirational book. And it takes you through the eight traits that we consider that a young woman warrior should have: intelligence, bravery, wisdom and so forth. And not only does it talk about those things, but there’s workbook-style activities so they can get clarity on how to foster a lot of those traits within themselves. Also, there’s interviews with extremely successful women in all sorts of industries. And so, one successful woman anchors each chapter of the book. So, each woman excels in that one particular area.”
Gilman hopes her novel can serve as another educational outlet for girls and women of all ages, learning what it takes to thrive in a fast-paced and relentless world.
“We’re so thrilled, it’s selling really well, and it’s making a difference in the world,” she says.
Gilman also hopes her artwork can serve as a difference-maker, here in San Diego County, as well as in other reaches of the world.
She believes that FeatherPunk can do just that, as has a cavalcade of quirky artisan items that are a hit with customers from various regions of the art world.
Gilman hopes she’s left a definite mark, both on the art world as a whole and on those that have benefitted from her educational endeavors.
She believes her online collection is an extension of that altruistic vision, as it allows the world to fill their home spaces with creatively cultivated artwork that are diligently crafted.
“My hope is that when people go to FeatherPunk Studio and they see what I make, my goal is that they find their own wonderland, and that they realize that life can be beautiful, just like it is up here where I live,” Gilman says. “Things can be beautiful in a time of chaos and uncertainty.
And that’s my big hope and my big goal, is that my crazy, eccentric, funky, fun, magical art inspires people to live outside their comfort zone; to be a little sillier, to be a little funkier, like we are here in Cardiff, and to realize that magic still exists.”
To see Michelle Rose Gilman’s artwork, visit FeatherPunk Studio’s website, at featherpunkstudio.com.