November 14, 2019

Five Questions with Michelle Rial: Illustrator & Author

Michelle Rial has come a long way since her first job, as a waitress at a breakfast restaurant in Durham, North Carolina. A graphic designer who makes charts, she has had her work appear in The New Yorker, BuzzFeed, Fast Company, USA Today, Refinery29, Vulture, and elsewhere on the internet. She is also the author and illustrator of Am I Overthinking This? Over-answering Life’s Questions in 101 Charts, published by Chronicle Books. Her work is witty and relevant, and we can’t wait to get inspired by her when she joins us in January as one of our speakers at In/Visible Talks 2020. She’ll be hosting a Lunch + Learn on conference day and leading a workshop the following day on “Charts & Crafts: Telling Stories with Everyday Objects”.

What drives Michelle to create? “Caffeine, mostly,” she says. Here are her answers to some of our other questions about her creative life.

What is your relationship to the creative process?

“I’m a writer-illustrator-‘creative’.”   

How or where do you find inspiration?

“Everyday objects, everyday thoughts.”

When did you first realize you needed to be in a creative field?

“When I looked at my college roommate’s Advertising textbook, and it was full of really smart and beautiful imagery.” 

What was one of your biggest creative challenges?

“Chronic pain, insecurity.”

Who are your heroes and why?

Andy Goldsworthy, after watching the documentary Rivers and Tides, and Wendy MacNaughton, because she brings out the beauty in everything.”

Bonus Question: What’s on your current playlist?

Sylvan Esso.”