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Check out Margo Burian’s Artwork

Today we’d like to introduce you to Margo Burian.

Margo, we’d love to hear your story and how you got to where you are today both personally and as an artist.
I graduated from Kendall College of Art and Design with a BFA in Illustration. After a 20 year career as a freelance illustrator, I was completely burned out! I had worked so many nights, weekends, holidays, birthdays, etc. that I began to realize that I needed to make a change in order to enjoy my life and work. A career separate from the arts wasn’t really an option; I’ve known ever since I can remember knowing things, that I am an artist. Its never been a separate or “other” thing for me. Fortunately, I have a strong support network of “art appreciators and dream believers” including my husband, a beloved mentor, family, friends, and patrons who encouraged me to pursue my dream of shifting careers mid stream.

The transition from commercial work for hire to being a “studio artist”, officially happened about 12 years ago and hasn’t been without its ups and down. In 2007, I applied for and was awarded an Artist in Residency through the Glen Arbor Art Center, in Glen Arbor Michigan. That residency was truly a gift and gave me the chance to focus without distraction, on what I was interested in and what potentially I had to say visually about my world and experiences. That opportunity allowed me to cement my resolve to make the shift to painting. I also have been awarded residencies through the Heliker LaHotan Foundation, Great Cranberry Island, ME and The Forest Hills Fine Art Center, MI.

Much of my “misspent” youth was spent in northern Michigan, between Mackinac Island and Harbor Springs, where I developed a life long love affair with the shorelines of the Great Lakes, the forests and the ever changing atmospheric conditions. My obsession with water, edges, and atmosphere are inspired from these places.

Painting for me is about connectivity, experience, and memory. Painting reminds me to slow down, to be in the moment, to enjoy the process. It’s a far different mindset than illustration, where product is the end goal.

I currently split my time between studios in Grand Rapids and Northern MI.

We’d love to hear more about your art. What do you do you do and why and what do you hope others will take away from your work?
I am an observational painter whose primary interests are in the landscape, still life, and abstraction based on observation.

I am working on a series of multi media paintings on paper. There are currently 2 distinct bodies of work that I am making in the studio right now. “Under the Influence” and “All Mixed up”.

“Under The Influence” is a body of landscape paintings (paper on panel/oil or mixed media) where I am working from remembered influences of experience – visual and emotional.

The series “All Mixed Up” is an ongoing exploration of multi media images on paper. These paintings generally are begun in observation. The subject matter varies from landscape to floral still life, but the constant in these images are the “everything but the kitchen sink” approach to image making. Including graphite, paint, crayons, image transfers, ball point pen and collage.

While I have been primarily an oil painter, I started working with acrylic paint and multimedia on paper about two years while both my parents were experiencing health problems. At that time I needed to find a way to continue working, even if my studio time was sporadic. Acrylic paint allows me the flexibility to work quickly and in fast drying layers.

My greatest hope for the work is that people feel a connection to it. Since much of my work is currently based on remembered experience, rather than the exact place, there is no greater compliment than when someone says to me that they know exactly “where” a place is. It means we’ve connected on a deeper level .

The sterotype of a starving artist scares away many potentially talented artists from pursuing art – any advice or thoughts about how to deal with the financial concerns an aspiring artist might be concerned about?

Develop a strategy and write it down. Believe that it is possible and imprint that story into your brain. The world is full of people who will tell you otherwise, change your mindset to one of positive thinking.

Visualize your goals and write them down. How do you see yourself/career in two years, five years, 10?

Resist distraction as much as possible. Dedicate space/time/resources to creating time in your life for creativity. Even if that means dedicated space on the kitchen table and setting a one hour timer.

Making art often requires time spent alone. Align yourself with others who appreciate and understand that need.

Do you have any events or exhibitions coming up? Where would one go to see more of your work? How can people support you and your artwork?
The following galleries currently handle my work:

Tvedten Fine Art in Harbor Springs, MI

Forest Gallery in Glen Arbor, MI

7/5-7/11 2019 12th Annual Solo Exhibition at Center Gallery, Lake Street Studios Glen Arbor, MI

Studio visits by appointment, contact through my website.

I teach classes, workshops, and private lessons. Dates are listed on my website as they are available.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
margo burian

Getting in touch: VoyageChicago is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.


  1. Mary Mapes

    January 10, 2019 at 10:10 pm

    We LOVE Margo, have known her for 20+ years and have many of her works in our home!

    Mary and Dave

  2. jerry gates

    January 11, 2019 at 7:08 pm

    the simplicity you engender is very successful. keep working-it looks good

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