Cleverlotus Studio & Design is the creative effort of Melanie Boyle. She has a degree in painting and printmaking from Nova Scotia College of Art and Design. Melanie divides her time between Vancouver and Cortes Island, Canada.
I began Cleverlotus from my home studio in Ann Arbor Michigan in 2005. Originally from Vancouver, Canada I was always looking to send cards and gifts to family and friends “back home” that would say something about where I lived. I quickly found that apart from football jerseys, chocolate covered cherries and bread from the famed deli Zingermans’ there wasn’t a whole lot from the city or state that reflected the region (or shipped flat!). So I decided to make something of my own to give. I began to learn about the unique geology of the Michigan peninsula and the range of native plant species it supports, and discovered how special the Great Lakes region was. I looked around my backyard and found many of those plants already growing there – Michigan lily, bloodroot, asters, mayapple, trout lily, wild geranium, Virginia bluebells. I began to draw them and these became the first of my handmade cards.
I found a way to make visual images that combined handworked and digital processes and which brought together my background in painting and printmaking, and my love of design and gardening. The cards were a way for me to explore the things that fed my visual imagination – old botanical watercolors, front yard kitchen gardens, children’s picture books, spring ephemerals after a hard winter. Quite unexpectedly, they turned out to be a path to get to know my community: writers and book publishers, artisans and craftspeople, advocates for local farms and food security, environmental stewards and many, many gardeners.
I now live and work back in Canada. I am still making cards and once again sending them away. But this time they are about the native plants that flourish here on the West Coast, and I am sending them in the other direction, to my friends back in Michigan.