For some, opportunities to flourish come on a plate, while others have to punch above their weight to achieve success. That success tastes even sweeter because you know you reached that point after overcoming multiple challenges and biases. The life of Melissa Falconer, a self-made pop culture artist, tells a somewhat similar story.
From not having enough resources to create art to owning her art business, this is an inspiring story of the struggle and success of a woman of color, breaking down barriers and defying all odds to bring value and prosperity to herself, and empowering others to do the same.
Growing up, M. Falconer had to face severely limited choices, as her family had a humble life, having just enough to fulfill their needs. Not having enough resources in her childhood, Melissa would gather scraps from around the house to create paper mache crafts, puppets, drawings, kites, or any other thing to quench her thirst for art and creativity. However, the societal obstacles gradually clouded over her passion, never letting her realize that being an artist was a viable career until later on.
Pursuing an Economics degree, Melissa found her way towards art again while fighting depression during her university days. Painting portraits for friends and family, and later on for university events, eventually unleashed the artist in her. And when she was done graduating in 2017, she had already made up her mind to take up her art passion as a career. Five years later, Melissa had made herself a name in the art world, established an art business on her website, and was not only surviving but thriving in the art space.
The entirely Black woman-owned business is home to some amazing masterpieces and remains dedicated to portraying art that uplifts, empowers, and motivates people, especially those of color. On Melissa’s business website, you will see many tribute paintings of Black artists, singers, politicians, etc. Using bold shapes and vibrant colors, Melissa is not just an expert in her field but also uses her expertise to let others shine through and follow their passions.
Melissa’s paintings excavate the Black culture, capturing fantastical, poignant, and profound scenes from the lives of Black people. Immortalizing her experiences and those of people of color was a part of Melissa’s deep vocation to preserve Black memories and stories that weren’t represented in the canon. “The type of things that I paint about are always ingrained in my culture, which is, the Black culture and empowerment of people of color,” says the profound visual artist.
Throughout her journey, Melissa has had numerous accomplishments. Between getting featured in the Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO) and launching her own apparel line, Melissa has been commissioned by big brands including HuffPost, PBS, CBC, and Harriet (the movie), to mention a few. She also has had the honor to speak for organizations like Shopify, Nia Centre for the Arts, and Wilfrid Laurier University, the institute where she graduated from.
Melissa aims to further spread the message of positivity through her artwork and create a gallery space in Toronto, hoping to be a voice for Black women who aren’t given many opportunities in the field of art. If there’s one thing that’s crystal clear, it’s that not just the Black community but the entire world needs people like her.