Featured Artist Q&A:
Her Dark Twisted Fantasy
This August, we connect with photographer/muralist/media-maker Melissa Uroff. The truly original (and multi-hyphenate) artist works tirelessly to share the artist experience through her “dark yet colorful” pieces, and through storytelling with her online magazine TUBE. When she is not creating, you can find her frequenting art and music shows, playing her accordion, hanging with her dogs, and traveling where she pleases.
Read on and learn more about the surprisingly bubbly “grunge photographer” below.
1. You describe your art as “carefree, imperfect, a little dark yet colorful.” How do you go about creating that unique tension in your work?
I frequently use bright colors; however, some of the scenarios I create are on the darker side of life. I am not a tormented person however art is usually an expression of me working something out or explaining an experience visually.
I had a wet lab teacher at Sacramento City College, Danita Cook, who would giggle at my process and call me the “grunge photographer.” There was a lot of truth to this. I love experimenting, crossing processes, using historical methods and mixing mediums. I am all about working with what is in front of me, adjusting to my materials and finding happy accidents along the way. It may be just me being impatient, but once I am in the creative process it is like a bull charging. You will find me painting with my hands, splashing (photo) chemicals onto paper instead of coating it properly, smearing ink, printing/painting on whatever is laying around…I love the feel that you have had your hands in something.
A behind the scenes look at Uroff’s experimental milk photography phase. (Photo by Heather Uroff)
2. You’ve created artwork in all shapes and sizes, from Polaroids to large murals. What are your favorite mediums and scales to work in?
I love to mix mediums, experiment in different processes, and then intertwine them all together. Each medium is special for its own reason. If you are comfortable you are doing something wrong. As long as I am pushing my boundaries and trying something new I am all about it.
As far as scale goes, it doesn’t matter the size of what I am making, it is mostly the experience I create. Over the summer, I had an interactive installation at the Ellis Gallery where I built a vintage living room. We encouraged people to walk into the set and take pictures of themselves sitting in the chair, talking on the phone, drinking the hidden whiskey in the drawer.
3. You are the founder of TUBE. Media. What the significance of the name and what is its mission?
TUBE. is a collection of creative folks working on a volunteer basis to highlight artists of all mediums — we are like a creative “tube” pointed towards all things artistic. We started TUBE. with the idea that if people knew how many wonderful and creative things were happening right here around us, artists and musicians would stop moving and Sacramento would become a central hub for the arts community. Everyone who writes for the magazine is a visual or performing artist themselves. We are very grassroots and love DIY.
4. Through TUBE. Magazine, you interview and cover the life and times of some of Sacramento’s most interesting creative. What’s it like being on the other side of the Q&A session?
It has been as amazing ride so far. I am constantly surrounded by like-minded creatives and that is a fantastic feeling. I love learning about the artist/musician. The Q&A session usually turns into a conversation and a lot of the time blossoms into a friendship. It is always inspiring to hear a fellow creatives’ story.
5. Boudoir photography is another love of yours. What do you think are some of the biggest misconceptions about this style?
I do spend a lot of time with beautiful (and naked) women! It is good to know that not all boudoir is cheesy. I like to make the final result more of a story. One of my favorite nude photos is Savannah. She is an absolutely beautiful woman and is definitely showing some skin, however in this photo her nudity is not the main subject, her story is.
For almost six years, Uroff has been the official photographer for The Sizzling Sirens burlesque troupe.
6. Can you tell us a fun back story behind one of your favorite photos?
I am not sure I can pick just one. They are all fun. I am amazed the things people let me do to them. I did an entire series where I wrapped people in plastic wrap. Then there was a period where I wanted to dump flour on everyone’s head. Currently, I am going through a milk phase…and there was one time when I photographed the Flaming Lips and the lead singer Wayne Coyne asked if he could borrow my eyeliner. That was pretty amazing!
One of Uroff’s most memorable moments was capturing The Flamming Lips frontman, Wayne Coyne.
7. You’re the artist of one of our favorite Capital Art Box units. How did you hear about the public art opportunity? What was the inspiration for your design?
Ah, thank you! The Sacramento Metropolitan Arts Commission and CADA put out the call for the art boxes and they were both absolutely a dream to work with. The faces on my two art boxes are of local Sacramento artists. The 16th and J Street box features visual artist Nicole Uroff, writer/journalist Steph Rodriguez, musician/videographer/photographer David Adams, musician Sydney Jones and model Katie Tindell. The one on 6th and Capitol is visual artist/photographer Heather Uroff, visual artist/musician Lauren Margaux, video/instillation/projection artist Denae Davis and model Sophie Gleason.
I was inspired by each of their personalities and talents. The final result is how I see them through my eyes.
Uroff’s colorful Capital Art Box on the corner of 16th and J Streets.
8. What marketing/self-promotion advice would you give a young artist?
Just keep being you and doing what you do. Be original. As long as you stay true to yourself you will grow into something wonderful. And don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. Remember to have a thick skin because people are ruthless. And most of all be kind, especially to other artists. They are not your competition, they are your colleagues. Share opportunities, your knowledge and help each other grow.
9. What are the three things you could not live without?
Coffee. Laughter. Love.
10. What are your plans for the rest of 2015?
Basically my plan is to keep doing what I love which include a lot of art and, of course, TUBE. During the month of August I will have a piece hanging up at the Delta Workshop. I am also working on a few commissions and some collaborations with local artist friends that will come to fruition this year.
Keep up with Melissa:
Sacramento365 Artist Profile
Previous Media Coverage
Interview by Sacramento365’s Content & Social Media Coordinator, Jamila B. Khan.