Melinda Tracy Boyce was once a graphic-novel enthusiast studying communications and working as a waitress. Now, Melinda Tracy Boyce is still a graphic-novel enthusiast, but everything else has changed: she ditched her comms major for a degree in art, quit her serving job, became a full-fledged, full-time painter, and is now both author and artist to several zines and art prints all her own. She's lived in three major maker hubs: first Portland, Austin and now LA, and her company, Cactus Club Paper, has exploded in the past year.
A few years back in Austin, Boyce was hanging out with a friend who ran a boutique called Paper Party. While painting side by side, the friend peered over and noticed Boyce's cactus pattern. She eventually demanded Boyce create a body of work and be the artist to open the Paper Party gallery. In that moment, Cactus Club was born.
"It was the push I needed. We thought selling prints at the gallery show would be a good idea, you know, to offer a lower price point. Now, I turn every painting into a print. I decided I wanted this to be my business."
After moving to LA and doing her first craft fair, Cactus Club went from a passion project on the side to a booming business. Boyce was shocked by the response.
But we're not. Boyce has mastered the relationship between color, shape and space. Whether painting and printing a chipper tie-dye bat or fresh vegetables, Boyce can turn simple things into bonafide eye candy. She's inspired by her past life as an almost-zoologist and deeply appreciates nature, but mostly, she just paints what comes into her head.
"I don't overthink what I draw, it just happens. I wanted to paint the whales, for example. I just did! But I can picture their solitude and them drifting through the ocean. They are these majestic creatures and when I paint them, I want to represent their life. That's all I really focus on."
The Yoga Babes painting took the longest - a full month to complete. Boyce was constantly pencilling and inking and repainting the different layers of color before sending it to print. But she didn't mind the time-suck.
"Painting for me is really meditative, and doing patterns is one of my favorite things. I kind of enjoy the ones that take longer to complete because I love being sucked into that world. The one where you're working for endless hours but it feels like no time is passing."
Luckily, Boyce can now get lost in that world whenever she wants. She was finally able to quit her serving job this year which she describes as "the happiest moment of her life." As many know, working a full-time job you hate can poison your downtime and tire your creative life. In one word, Boyce feels liberated.
"Every day now I'm sitting, working with my hands. Everything handmade has a degree of love to it. Everyone creating art or craft is doing it because they love doing it. You can see it in the work. I just paint what I love and hope people love those things, too."
When a body of work includes prints of lounging lizards, adorable hedgehogs and space-inspired elephants, it's hard not to fall in love.