Michelle Ishida

Musician/Visual Artist/Writer

Michelle received her Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from The Ohio State University in 1995. She started her undergraduate education at Otterbein University with a double major in fine art and piano performance and composition. She then took a semester at  Columbus College of Art and Design before settling at Ohio State.  Art and music have always been her greatest loves having played piano since she was six years old. After a year of double majors she realized that classical performance wasn’t her true love and she pared her studies down to visual art for her degree while continuing to write original music for her band. Michelle also completed a course at The Recording Workshop in Chillicothe, OH for audio engineering over the summer between college years.

It was while she was in art school at Ohio State that her band Mary Adam 12 became regionally popular on the college circuit and her clothing business came to fruition. She started making dresses, purses and hats for herself to wear on stage and a local shop owner noticed them and inquired about purchasing them for her campus boutique. That was the moment she realized that making things you enjoy and want to own yourself is the most authentic way to create art. The same is true for music, if you create authentically from your heart it will connect with like minded souls. 

Printmaking, drawing and painting were the areas of concentration Michelle focused on while developing her visual art style and technique.

1970’s funk and soul was her inspiration for creating music. The band Mary Adam 12 existed from 1992-1997 and Michelle co wrote and recorded about 50 songs during that time.

The 1990’s were also the beginning of her art festival participation. Many times she would have an art booth and then go play a set on stage and then come back to work. Since then Michelle has exhibited in countless shows and has created long lasting relationships with customers who come back to her art booth decade after decade with their vintage handbag, t-shirt or hat and catch up on each other’s lives. She appreciates how rewarding doing something you love for a long period of time can be when it allows you to make meaningful connections to others. Michelle has also experienced this in the music scene being fortunate to have peers she has known for decades who enjoy collaborating on original music.

After decades of art festivals and online selling the pandemic brought a forced artist's sabbatical and inspired new creativity in her music, painting and printmaking. She even received a Greater Columbus Arts Council Grant for Professional Artists in 2021 to help purchase canvas, paint and brushes. During this time she also rediscovered her love for recording engineering and began making recordings at home and taking a sync licensing class online to explore the world of music placement.  

Alongside her art and music experiences Michelle has had some fun and interesting opportunities in the commercial world that allowed her to experience other creative outlets and develop great relationships and networking partners.  

Some of her fun commercial work includes: Her own segment on HGTV's "That's Clever" June 2007, tailor and wardrobe work for the Vitamin Water Courtroom Commercial with LeBron James, the 2009 Super Bowl Commercial for State Farm Insurance also featuring James, 2010 Comcast Odd Couple Commercials with Shaquille O'Neal and Ben Stein, 2007-2017 JoAnn, Inc. styling and print work and numerous private costume and design clients. Her first celebrity client was in 1991 when the Pearl Jam bassist Jeff Ament wore one of her hats on the cover of Time Magazine and on SNL.  WOSU in Columbus, OH filmed a video segment for their TV show and Youtube channel “Broad & High” about Michelle's mask making and her art in 2020. In May 2022 she was interviewed on an episode of Local Waste, a podcast about the 90's music scene in Columbus, OH. Michelle performed as a solo artist at Music In The Round in March 2023 and released and album with Gathering Stars in April 2023. 

Michelle is currently writing and performing with Gathering Stars and The Repo Pilots as well as her own solo music and several collaborations where she plays piano and synths. 

Art festival season begins in April of 2024 so check the shows page for places to come see her work and hear her bands. You can also click the link to her clothing company Tree Lady Art!