Not only have I known both of these kind, graceful girls since high school, I have so loved watching them become two of my favorite artists ever.
This Thanksgiving Eve, I internet-chat with best friends Evan Blackwell of Ink Bouquet and Michaella Jelin of Yellow Bird Visuals & try to keep my obsessive fangirling to a minimum.
The Fluf: How did you first become friends?
Michaella Jelin: We were both in the same general friend group from high school upon coming to UGA but hadn’t officially met yet. Everyone kept telling us we had to meet because they knew we’d get along so well, haha! When we finally got to UGA, we found out we were the two art majors in our friend group, and instantly bonded over that and the rest is history.
Evan Blackwell: Nothing quite brings friends together like lugging 300 dollars worth of bulky and heavy art supplies miles down the road in the Georgia heat because neither of us had cars on campus! Haha a lot of sore arms and spilt drawing material and a great friendship!
TF: How has your friendship changed over the years?
MJ: From being roommates, to living in different cities, to going through some hard times in life together, our friendship has definitely endured a lot of different seasons. Each one has been very different, but they’ve all played such an important role in strengthening our friendship. When we first became friends, we were freshman in college and were just beginning to figure out what our big dreams in life were. It’s been awesome to chase our separate dreams together, and see how much we’ve grown in the past 4 years as both artists and people. And now we even collaborate together, which is the most fun. No matter what season of life we’re in though you can always count on us to be drinking copious amounts of coffee, planning out a road trip, and eating too much pasta.
EB: Our friendship has gone through some serious changes like Michaella has said. We went from not knowing each other to living together in a matter of a year! Haha. We spent super late nights in the art school chugging coffee and laughing at the weird things that happen to artwork in the wee hours of the morning, eating ridiculous amounts of pizza and pasta together, and planning how we will take on the world together and see all the sights.
Then sophomore year she transferred schools to Georgia State, which was so very sad, but never once did we question the strength of our friendship and if it could be maintained over a distance; the real problem was how often we could visit the other because we would miss each other so much!
After she moved and we both began to hone our artistic crafts, we started to collaborate artistically! It is so much fun bringing out minds and mediums together to make something new and awesome! What, though, has defined to strength of our friendship the most is how we respond when the other is in need.
Even though she was 75 miles away, when I was in a bad accident she dropped everything, hopped in her car, and sat by my side in the hospital, sleeping over in my freezing room with me for a lot of the nights of the two weeks I was there. Throughout that entire recovery time she was there for me. She even set up an adorable double date picnic in my room at home because I couldn’t go out, complete with a picnic basket, my favorite foods and twinkle lights. It’s in the hardest and darkest times that you can truly see the strength of a relationship, and for Michaella and me this period in my life proved the enduing nature of our friendship fully. I know that no matter what side of the globe we are on this is one of those life-long friendships for sure.
TF: How has going to different schools / living in different places affected your friendship?
EB: Like I mentioned earlier, the living in different cities thing definitely sucks a lot because we cant hang out all the time like we had before, but it definitely makes you cherish the times we do get to spend together so much more! We make up for the times we aren’t together with talking all the time. We are still very much involved in each others lives. I come to her with anything and everything. Even if its just sending a pic of two pairs of shoes to get her opinion of which ones to buy (which is usually a “you should get both” sort of thing haha), or huge and heavy life stuff, like relationship chats or what to do in the next chapter of our lives.
MJ: Going from being roomies and doing nearly everything together to moving to a different school/city was definitely not the easiest. It can be super easy to fade away from people when you live in different cities, but the friendships that can endure distance are the ones that are forever. The only way going to different schools has really affected our friendship is we don’t see each other as much (sadly), but aside from that, we still talk all the time, and she’s always one of the first people I go to about everything! Not seeing each other all the time sucks, but it definitely makes getting to hang out and visit each other that much better. We’re such dreamers, and even from afar we’re always dreaming up ideas and planning out our next adventures.
TF: What are your favorite things about each other?
MJ: Evan is truly one of the most incredible people I know and I look up to her every day. Her immeasurable strength and perseverance in every situation, no matter what life hands her is so admirable. She is such a fighter, and has such a brave and giving lion heart. She’s always bringing out the best in people and is such an encouragement to everyone she knows. She’s definitely one of my number one fans and is always encouraging and supporting me and my work! And of course, she has hands of gold. Seriously, everything she touches becomes beautiful. She is hands down one of the most talented artists I know, and the way she keeps on dreaming and keeps on pushing herself to never stop creating is amazing. Her work is constantly getting better and she’s always putting herself so fully into everything she does! She’s not afraid to dream big, and it’s amazing watching all of her dreams become reality. (remember me when you’re famous, Ev)
EB: Holy cow whats not to love about this girl!! She is the most talented, beautiful and caring person ever. Her love for people is unwavering and so encouraging. She has such a giving spirit and has never thought twice about helping someone in need, or coming to my aid whenever I need it. She is seriously the hardest working person on the planet. She manages to maintain her own photography business (Yellow Bird Visuals! Check it out and be blown away by how stupid talented this girl is!), make beautiful art, free lances, works as an invaluable member of SWL AND is a fulltime graphic design student. Her dedication to all the things she does pushes me to always strive to do better and keep going. I look up to her mastery of her crafts and her mastery of life in general. We all want to be her when we grow up! Haha.This girl is so impressive. But she is also so so so humble, she will never flaunt her successes in your face she will just smile and keep on making and doing awesome things. Its such a beautiful thing to have a front seat in her life and watch as she refines her artistic style and generally rocks out at life. I loving doing life with this girl and dreaming up all of the adventures and businesses and futures we can have.
TF: Do you have any friendship advice for others?
MJ: The best friendships are the most selfless & open ones! Communication & honesty are so key and it’s so important to always put each other first and to make time for each other. Even if you’re both in a busy season, or far apart from each other, make time to talk and stay updated on each other’s lives and plan ahead for trips to hang out and spend quality time together! Push each other to be the best versions of yourself and to fight for your passions. Be each other’s number one cheerleaders in life through both the good times and the hard times, and always have each other’s backs!
EB: The most fundamental aspect of a healthy friendship regardless of distance or how long you’ve been friends is love. Love that person unconditionally and don’t judge them for anything, be there for them one hundred percent. Encourage them and root them on always. Life’s hard!! Sometimes you just need a push in the right direction of some affirmation that you’re doing what’s right for you. Also hugs. Make time to hangout and do fun things together, go on adventures around your own town or around the world! Be honest too. About everything. From “does this dress make my butt look big” to “should I really be dating this guy”. Honesty, love, and having each other’s backs no matter what the distance or business of your schedules is all you need.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity and length.