Marissa Donapel is a first generation college graduate, born and raised in Northeast Philadelphia. She attended the Arts Academy at Benjamin Rush High School and enrolled upon graduation at Drexel University with the intention of studying film. Marissa had always loved film growing-up, and dreamed of becoming a film director. But, at the end of her freshman year, she realized that film wasn’t for her and she switched her major to graphic design. This decision proved right: Marissa is a prolific maker and being able to create a lot of visual art as a Design Major was a huge plus, and she felt an affinity with her new graphic design peers because of their shared passion for the visual arts.
Marissa began selling her work while still in college. She created a line of stickers featuring popular animated characters that she sold on RedBubble. Her brand continued to evolve and soon, she opened an Etsy shop. After learning how to screen print at Drexel, she expanded her product line to include hats, hoodies, graphic tees and more. She also sells printed reproductions of her illustrations, and, recently, she launched a successful line of handmade earrings and holographic stickers.
The COVID 19 pandemic has been both a blessing and a curse for Marissa. Social isolation has given her the gift of time which she has utilized to create more artwork; but, she has also had to deal with the mental hurdle of finding the motivation to create. These past six months have taught her not to push the process, but instead how to use COVID 19 as an inspiration rather than a hurdle. She completed a series of paintings inspired by her pandemic experience, which she is now selling as prints on her Etsy shop. These prints are incredibly relatable and they encapsulate a time in the history of the world that not one of us will easily forget. (Pictured below.)
Marissa’s illustrative style is graphic, current and edgy. She uses bright splashes of color and bold contrast to create exciting works that speak loudly of who she is as an artist. When you see an illustration by Marissa Donapel, you know it is by “Marissa Donapel.”
Marissa is a very recent college graduate – June ’20; she is currently looking for her first post-graduate job during a time of pandemic economic fragility. Of her fellow 2020 graduates, Marissa says, “We were really thrown into the fray and it’s been difficult finding our footing- but we are a strong group.” She affectionately refers to her class of graduates as “the guinea pig class.”
In addition to looking for a full-time position in the arts, Marissa hopes to participate in the numerous punk flea markets that are popping up in and around Philadelphia: virtual for now, though she looks forward to the in person markets that are sure to be back once the roller coaster ride that is COVID – 19 is over. In the meantime, she will continue to work hard to grow her online shop and possibly write a sequel to her first children’s book “Around the World with Remy and Fox”; regardless, she is excited to see where her journey in the arts takes her.
I asked Marissa, “What makes a person an entrepreneur? What makes you an entrepreneur?” Her response: “An entrepreneur is a creator: someone who has a drive to build-off of their passions and to take the leap towards that first step that turns a passion into a lifestyle. I don’t consider myself a business person. I’ve just always loved art and yearned to make art whenever I can, whether through film or just picking up a pencil. I am both a creator, and someone who has the drive to make change through what I love. I probably won’t be able to fix global warming or systemic problems on my own by drawing a pretty picture, but I can make someone’s day better with that picture, and that’s just as important to me.”
Marissa is this week’s featured entrepreneur on The Close School of Entrepreneurship’s Instagram Proving Ground Pop Up. She is also on Social Media. You can visit her website at https://www.mdonapelillustration.com/; her Etsy shop at https://www.etsy.com/shop/vogeldoesart; and her instagram is www.instagram.com/mdonapelillustration/.