Self-taught in a variety of media, Melissa Averinos defies the confines of any one artistic category. “I am fluid in my artwork,” says the fabric designer, digital artist, quilter, author, collage maker, and painter. “I don’t ever have a vision of what I want to create. I just start with a material and see what happens.”
Growing up in Centerville, Averinos recalls that she was constantly making stuff around the house, from collages to jewelry. After learning how to use Adobe Illustrator, she began selling designs to print houses, and in 2006 Victoria’s Secret bought two of her creations for a pajama line. Since then, Averinos has been designing for major fabric companies and has signed with an art-licensing agency. “This enables me to have a team of art directors bring my designs to manufacturers,” she says, “and have products with my designs on them in places like Target and Pier 1.”
From 2008 to 2011, Averinos ran a quirky gift shop called Yummy Goods in West Barnstable, which was featured on the cover of Cloth, Paper, Scissors magazine. In recent years, she has also authored several craft books, including DIY Handlettering (2016), DIY Wine Corks (2014), which was featured on Oprah Winfrey’s website, and DIY Mason Jars (2013).
Quilting is another passion for Averinos. A member of the Modern Quilt Guild, a quilting community, Averinos entered a piece titled “Face #1” in the guild’s international show and conference, QuiltCon, in 2015. For her entry, which won the Judge’s Choice Award, she incorporated small pieces of material in such a way that when viewers stood back from the piece they could see an amazingly detailed face. Based on the positive response to this quilt, Averinos has begun teaching “Making Faces” workshops to quilting groups around the country.
In 2016 Averinos took QuiltCon’s top award for a piece titled “My Brother’s Jeans,” which is dear to her heart. To complete the quilt she pieced denim crosses together from several pairs of her late brother Michael’s jeans on a pale background; the piece referenced a traditional quilting pattern as well as Michael’s profession as a tile installer. The quilt was named “Best in Show” out of 1,810 entries submitted by artists from 21 countries.
“I did not intend it to be a statement quilt,” Averinos says. “My personality is to be open and honest about my past struggle with depression and anxiety, as well as my brother’s suicide. My art work flows out of me, and this quilt was the same. Winning this award felt like an acknowledgment from my community and appreciation of my imperfect style.” The quilt is now traveling across the country in the Best of QuiltCon Traveling Exhibit. – Kathy Blackwell