There is an artist within each of us. How we write, how we frame the photos we take, how we dress, and how we plate our food—it’s all an expression of our inner creativity. Artists by profession are those who take the time and energy to develop their artistic skills and challenge the right side of their brain. For me, that development started as a child. I was always drawing, sculpting, and creating. As a kid I would go door-to-door selling my paintings and my carved hotel-bathroom soaps. I would tell people “when I grow up, I want to be an artist and a mommy.” Somehow I lost touch with my artistic ambitions during school, as I was so intensely focused on the science and math and grades needed to become a veterinarian. It wasn’t until after college, when I was gifted a camera and began to take up film and photography in my free time, that I once again fell in love with creative expression through art.
My entire career is a side effect of the creative work I have put out into the world. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I could work full-time helping animals by creating videos and taking photos—but that is what has happened.
In an article by Mark Hawthorne about avoiding activism burnout (which will soon be posted to WorldofVegan.com), he recommends the following:
“Find a Good Fit. One of the best ways to avoid burning out is to match your style of campaigning with your interests and strengths, creating activism that nourishes you.”
That is what I have done through photography and videography, and consequently I have landed in a line of work that uses my interests and strengths in very effective ways to help animals. I work insanely long days but never tire of what I do because it combines my mission to prevent suffering with my passion for creative media.
7. What other projects have you been a part of?
I’m currently working on videos for Farm Sanctuary, Mercy for Animals, Lighter Culture, and Vegan Cuts that are intended to get people thinking about the food industry and to inspire compassionate choices. I have also worked on projects with PETA (I managed the PETA Pack half-marathon team training program for nearly 5 years), Vegan.com (I helped relaunch the website, wrote hundreds of articles, and produced more than 70 videos), Meaningful Paws, Vegan Outreach, Oakland Veg Week, and more.
8. Compassion, community, the planet, the people, animals, health and sustainability are what drive Sanctuary Bistro. How would you say these impact your work?
These tenets are at the root of the work that I do, and they are what drove me to become so passionate about veganism in the first place. I feel very at home at Sanctuary Bistro because of these shared values, and love that Sanctuary Bistro provides a beautiful venue to bring together the community and celebrate health, the planet, and animals.
9. How does one purchase your work and if I do what happens?
I have four canvas prints on display at Sanctuary Bistro that are available for purchase (50% of the proceeds will benefit one of my favorite organizations, Food Empowerment Project). I am also available to do custom photography and videography projects for individuals, companies, and organizations. I love taking photos of people, animals and vegan food, and making short videos showcasing the work of entrepreneurs, small businesses, and Kickstarter projects.
10. What else do you do?
Sleep! Haha—my work keeps me very busy day and night, but when I have free time I love to go on hikes with my dog Chance, go rafting down Russian River, and go running with teams like the PETA Pack
and Team Vegan
. I also jump at any opportunity to visit local sanctuaries like Animal Place, Harvest Home, Preetirang, and Farm Sanctuary, and love attending annual events like the National Animal Rights Conference, the Natural Products Expo
, and the Farm Sanctuary Hoe Down.
11. You are an incredible blogger, can you share about your blog and what we can gain from reading it, along with a link to your favorite post?
Aw, shucks! Thank you! I love creating content to share with the world. At Vegan Break
you’ll find my bite-sized vegan videos. At World of Vegan
you’ll find content from myself and a team of amazing contributors about the latest happenings, videos, and recipes in the vegan world. And at my personal website MichelleCehn.com you’ll find an overview of my work and opportunities for collaboration.
12. Can you share any amazing facts with us?
In 2014 there were hundreds of vegan cookbooks that came to life and entered the marketplace on Amazon.com. We are entering a very exciting time in history, my friends! A true food revolution is upon us. And it’s so exciting eateries like Sanctuary Bistro at the forefront of this progress.
It’s been a true honor to exhibit my artwork at Sanctuary Bistro, and to be included on the blog. Thank you! And to any readers who made it down this far, I hope to see you at the art opening event!