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Aerial Perspective

3 artists, designers, and creatives making waves in Maine

Lauren Berg, Botanic Magic

What is your mission with Botanic Magic?
To create art that lifts spirits, inspires a sense of wonder, and deepens a person's connection to their community. Window murals are often on display in very public spaces, so I feel a responsibility not only to the client, but also to the neighborhood. I've noticed over the years that people look forward to my window paintings, and I've begun to think of them as a gift to the community—something that brings people together. Window painting has been around forever, but I try to bring a fresh, fine art approach to it.

What makes Maine’s artist community special?
Maine is a very special place to be if you're an artist and a maker. There's so much talent spread throughout the state, plus a rich history of homesteading and hand-crafting. Maine has incredible galleries, museums, and so much dramatic wilderness to explore, which all serve as endless wells of inspiration. There is a trend towards community over competition here, which is such a refreshing and nurturing space to be a part of as an artist and a woman. 

Becky McKinnell, Wildwood Oyster Co.

What makes Wildwood Oyster Co. unique?
The ocean is our heart and soul, and we bring you to the water—no matter where you are. That in itself is unique, but our origin story sets the tone. This all started with a one-of-a-kind gift from my sister: a leather hide. Since that day, we have continually made new salt-air-inspired bags, jewelry pieces, and accessories that connect deeply with people. Our customers are everything—we love to ask their opinion about our new designs and share ideas, and we value them like our closest friends. 

How do you balance running an award-winning ecommerce agency, being a mom, and designing handbags and accessories?
Being present is often easier to say than to do, but I really strive for that. When I’m at work, I’m focused on the strategies to help our clients. When I’m in the design room, I’m thinking about new sketches and our amazing customers. And when I’m home with my family, that is time just for us. I’m the luckiest to have all these beautiful roles.

Ebenezer Akakpo, Akakpo Design Group (Akakpo & Co. and Maine Culture)

Where do you find inspiration?
As a maker and designer, I turn to architectural structures, mechanical movements, and nature for creative inspiration. I break down the forms into straight lines and patterns, then find ways to apply those to my work.

You design a variety of items, including jewelry, apparel, and tableware. What is your favorite medium to work with?
My medium of choice is cardboard—it's a perfect sculpting material with flexibility, and it makes an excellent painting surface. It's abundant, resilient, versatile, and sustainable, and it also allows me to be a kid again and experiment with different techniques.

How does your work share the stories of both Maine and Ghana?
I design patterns inspired by the visual language symbols (Adinkra) of my native country, Ghana. My favorite symbol is endurance—to progress in the face of difficulty. When I moved to Maine, I took a class called Critical Issues that almost killed my dream of exploring Ghana's symbols when I realized it isn't easy to introduce a new culture to another one. I decided to learn which symbols were significant to Maine and created the Maine Culture brand as a way to introduce Mainers to my visual language concept. It takes a lot of endurance and willpower to do what I am doing, but the acceptance and support of my work from the Maine community makes it all worth it.

“My favorite symbol is endurance—to progress in the face of difficulty.”

  • Credit: Sean Alonzo Harris
  • Credit: Emily Sawchuck Photography
  • Credit: Liz Daly