Marisa Incelli-Lombardo is the owner of The Artemisian, a jewelry line being carried by Athopologie as well as galleries and shops in Philadelphia. Influenced by her bi-continental upbringing, her interest in the arts began early thanks to Italian father, Michele Incelli and Polish-American Mother, Melissa O’Dell. Marisa attended Archbishop Walsh high school, studied with sculptor Dave Poulin, attended Alfred University, and graduated with a BFA in Printmaking in 1999 from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University in Philadelphia. Marissa lives there still, with her husband Franco, Chef/Owner of Sapori Trattoria and their three children.
How did the idea for The Artemisian form? In Rome 1998, Art School, a tiny studio with the perfect balcony to hang clothes on, and a lush green and burnt orange stuccoed courtyard in the artisan quarter of Trastevere. With limited resources and limited materials I began re-thinking ‘that which is discarded.’ The journey of neglecting the new and opting for the old, putting constraints on what was created by what was available, not a supply and demand philosophy. I’ve been working for some time now on re-purposing, keeping a very small toolbox and minimally affecting the environment by discovering the beauty in re-claimed metals, vintage fabrics and aligning them with antique watches, buttons brooches etc.
What’s the concept behind your line? The Artemisian adorns those who wear her pieces with our past, present and future in one. Each piece of jewelry, each garment of clothing, is one of a kind and each has its’ own story. I travel markets and estate sales from Rome to the far most corners of Western New York and many in between to find treasures that speak to me. My art breathes new life into them, so as to continue their story.
How did you become an artist? I believe those who are artists are born artists, a vocation. An artist is one who observes our culture and is driven to interpret it and reflect it back, a mirror to our world. I’ve evolved from being a gallery artist mostly interested in the juxtaposition of classical printmaking and performance art to repurposing articles of clothing, antique jewelry and vintage fabrics into wearable art.
The most enjoyable aspect of my work? The creative process…being so inspired by a discovered treasure that it drives an entire collection. I used to work out of a home studio when my children were younger. Now that they are all in school, the joy of having a studio in the same building where our restaurant is has made this process so much more of a whole experience. I immerse myself completely in each collection, music from the era, as well as fashions and literature. I stop briefly to eat with my husband and return to my sacred space.
Inspiration? My last three collections (from which I’ve sent pictures) were all initially inspired by lyrics to a song. I’m often inspired by fantastical movies and music. I’ve made collections inspired by The Matrix, Mad Max and the Golden Compass. This collection was inspired by Florence and the Machine, and still more by Degas dancers and Rothko paintings.
How did you start working with Anthropologie? I ran into an old acquaintance (and freelance stylist for Vogue and Elle) in a cafe and she mentioned she’d used some of my work in a few shoots and was happy to make an introduction with buyers from Anthropologie. After this brief encounter I received an email from Anthropologie asking if I could bring in my work for review. After a few sleepless nights, they took everything I had and have ordered more as often as they could. It’s a beautiful partnership. Their appreciation of my work and the definition it’s given online and in stores is in keeping with my philosophies. All pieces are one of a kind and are listed with my company name.
Advice for others? Simply to follow your passion, work hard and be informed about your craft. There is so much in the fashion world that is based on timing and connections you have established through perseverance. Let your work be your joy, not the sale of it and you will never be disappointed. After all, think of the list of artists we value today who had little to no success during their lives.
See and read more at theartemisian.com.