Name: Melissa Falconer
Job title: Artist
Currently lives in: Oshawa, Ont.
Education: BA in business, economics and entrepreneurship, Laurier University
First job out of school: Artist
Growing up, Melissa Falconer always had a side hustle. For instance, after making elaborate Deadmau5-inspired helmets for a school costume competition—complete with lights that synced to music—Falconer sold the helmets on Kijiji, earning $200 a pop. A big fan of The Muppets, she also created homemade puppets and sold them to local churches. Each of her early ventures stemmed from Falconer’s impressive creative abilities, but she was able to think bigger. “I saw the value in what I was making and that motivated me to sell it,” she says.
Yet, kind of remarkably, she didn’t start painting until she was in university. It started when she didn’t know what to get her mom for Mother’s Day, so she decided make a portrait. Soon, Falconer started painting portraits for her friends. “That’s where I discovered my passion for painting—but I’ve always had a passion for entrepreneurship,” she says.
Combining that spirit with the tools she learned studying business at Laurier University—such as the importance of networking—Falconer started her own art business right out of school. Five years later, the 25-year-old’s pop-culture inspired art has been published on , and .
“The type of things that I paint about are always engrained in my culture, Black culture and empowerment of people of colour,” says Falconer, who has created portraits of Nipsey Hussle, the women of Wakanda and Michelle Obama. The portrait she painted of Insecure’s Yvonne Orji now . Through her work, Falconer hopes to be a voice for Black women who haven’t been given space in this genre. “I want to be that person to represent how we feel, or the things that we go through because that’s literally my life,” she says.