Written by Erika Block
Mel Kolstad is an ephemera artist, speaker, instructor and arts advocate living and working in Fond du Lac, Wisconsin. Despite being in her mid-thirties before becoming a career artist, Kolstad has been a collector of ephemera for as long as she can remember. “My sister and I would take those Columbia House stamps out of magazines and use them for our “senders” (my younger sister Jen’s word for “letters”). We would pretend to be letter carriers and “send” our parents letters. […] I also credit my 2nd grade stamp collection for completing the immersion of ephemera into my life. I believe that what interests us as children will follow us throughout our lives.”
Since delving into ephemera as a career, Kolstad has expanded her skill set into printmaking and encaustic work, as well as the wonders of what a sewing machine can do when combined with paper. “I hope my work evokes a sense of nostalgia or happy memories.” Kolstad’s mission with her artwork is to offer affordable, interesting, and functional pieces of art that buyers will be proud to own. Each piece is one of a kind.
Kolstad believes community involvement is key for artists at any stage of their career, not only for the benefits of networking and inspiration, but simply because “being an artist is a solitary life, so one must balance it with a social life.” Kolstad is on the Tour the Town committee (which coordinates Fond du Lac’s monthly art walk), she is the chair for Wisconsin Visual Artists-NE Chapter, and the secretary for the WVA state board. She also serves as a board trustee for the Fond du Lac Public Library, a docent and instructor at the Museum of Wisconsin Art in West Bend, and is a member of Community Initiative for Fox Cities Artisans (CIFCA).
Of equal importance to being social in real life, Kolstad also embraces online and social media platforms as a means of networking, brand building, and bringing her work to a larger and more diversified audience. In addition to her main website, melkolstad.com (where you will find her available works), Kolstad also maintains ephemeraology.com, writes a blog, and manages a handful of facebook pages and groups. Through these platforms, she hopes to create a community of “like minds” sharing experiences, ideas, tips and opportunities with one another. While the subject matter initiates based on Kolstad’s own interests and practices, readers will find a variety of interesting content and discussions to take part in.
Kolstad seizes every worthwhile opportunity to exhibit and promote her work – online, locally, regionally, and even across the country. While sales are not her primary focus, she admits it’s a fantastic feeling to sell her work. “If I’m going to create the work and I’m proud of it, I want others to take notice and hopefully appreciate it as well.”
If interested in connecting with Mel Kolstad and learning more about her work, start here:
All images copyright of the artist and used with their permission.
Erika Block is the owner of Creative Studios, an advertising and marketing agency specifically for creative professionals, and Creative Publishing, an independent publisher of creative genre books, eBooks and magazines. Her recent magazine, VIR-TU-OS-I-TY is a national quarterly publication by, for, and about creative people. Block is also the founder and president of National Creative Competitions, an online series for people at all stages of their creative careers. To learn more about Block visit elblock.com and virtuosity-magazine.com.