If you've visited the Fresh Tangerine shop, you've experienced the charm of Apartment on Belmont. Their dreamy artwork adorns our walls and is featured in our collection of stationery. The FT team recently took a field trip to an open house hosted by Apartment on Belmont artist Michael Doyle & designer Samantha Wagner. Their enchanting West Seattle studio felt like a secret clubhouse, hidden on the second floor above a nursery school. It was a full house of guests perusing artwork while enjoying treats (homemade by Michael's parents!), but we managed to snag a few moments to interview Michael & Samantha.
Photo by Rachael Lang
How did Apartment on Belmont come to be?
Apartment On Belmont began as an idea in Michael’s mind. As a lifelong artist he created his first cards to sell at his art shows. When I stumbled across them I had recently left my full-time job as an art director and was smitten with his unique, nostalgic style. I reached out to him to see if he’d make a custom holiday card for me and we connected over our shared love of stationery. A month later, Apartment On Belmont as it exists today, was born! We’ve found a great collaborative balance between our complementary creative skills and shared business values.
What’s a typical day at the studio like?
Our studio days really vary in what they might look like. Some days are focused on inspiration and product ideation. Often these days involve a field trip and then a brainstorming session where we share our inspirations of late. On these creative days Michael might be quietly painting and drawing while I set up photoshoots and work on product design using his art. Other days have us stocking inventory, shipping orders, reading contracts and updating our website! It’s really very exciting.
Your illustrations make us feel like we’re transported to a quirky dreamworld! Where do you find inspiration?
Our inspiration is deeply rooted in nostalgia and within the literary and natural worlds. We also find inspiration from other art forms from fashion to interior design to photography. Current inspiration sources include the art of Helen Frankenthaler, Alessandro Michele for Gucci and the creative powerhouse that was the Bloomsbury Group.
What is your dream for the future of Apartment on Belmont?
Our dream for our business has always been to foster a positive blend between work and life. The creative aspect of Apartment On Belmont is a direct reflection of our personal lives so the line between the professional and personal is purposefully blurred. We want to support ourselves financially but we also want to focus just as much on lifestyle. We also love collaborating with other businesses and have many dream collaborations in mind for the future. We’d love to have Apartment On Belmont be a well known brand for our creative, inspiring stationery and products!
The Apartment on Belmont studio is in West Seattle. What are some of your favorite local haunts?
We recommend Realfine Coffee for a good afternoon distraction, the West 5 for lunch and JaK's for happy hour (well worth the wait). And when we need a place to celebrate, Raccolto is quite the treat.
Are you from Seattle? If not, how did you land here?
Michael is born and raised in West Seattle. I’m from the west coast of Canada originally and ended up here four years ago.
What advice do you have for artists dreaming of starting their own stationery/decor collection?
Just start. It is the only way. Fight against perfectionism because everything you ever make will continue to evolve and change. The stationery industry is highly supportive, so open yourself up to community by offering help, advice, etc. where you can. Technology has made it a great time to be an artist interested in creating their own products because of the accessibility of audience via social media and manufacturers all over the country or world at your fingertips.