Meet Michelle Domanowski ’16 (Art)!
Based in the Seattle area, Michelle Domanowski manages the daily operations for the Script and Film divisions of Pipeline Media Group as a Management & Development Executive. She’s also a contributor to the digital magazine, Pipeline Artists. Michelle earned her BFA in Visual Arts at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle. After discovering her passion for screenwriting, Michelle decided to pursue an MFA in screenwriting at Florida State University, where she gained teaching experience as a graduate assistant. After graduation, she worked as a script reader for Shore Scripts briefly before joining the Pipeline Media Group team.
Describe growing up and your childhood.
Most of my childhood was spent in swimming pools. I swam competitively for 8 years, competing in meets at the state and national level. I never had a genuine love for the sport, but I didn’t know what else to do for an extracurricular activity. While I’d always loved creative pursuits like writing and drawing, I didn’t know how to discipline myself enough to stick to these crafts. I distinctly remember my parents enrolling me in a drawing course, only to be upset that the teacher wouldn’t let me draw cartoons for every assignment. To be honest, I think I just wanted to daydream and watch TV all day.
-Tell us about why you decided to pursue art and why Cornish?
In my freshman year of high school, I finally decided to quit swimming in order to find my passion. I rediscovered my love for drawing and painting, but this time around, I had the self-discipline to actually work on my craft everyday. Being able to express myself creatively gave me a lot of fulfillment that I couldn’t find in sports or any other hobbies. With swimming, I always felt a bit hollow. With art, I felt like I had purpose.
When I was thinking about colleges, it was really important to me to attend an art school. Many people encouraged me to go to a regular state college, so I could major in business and minor in art. But I knew that wasn’t the right path for me. I wanted to study art full-time.
I chose Cornish specifically because I really resonated with their philosophy that artists are taught, not made. I didn’t have a strong artistic foundation, since I had only started taking my art practice seriously in high school. The message I got from Cornish was that it doesn’t matter what your starting point is, as long as you’re passionate about art and devoted to learning.
-What was your most important takeaway from Cornish?
My most important takeaway from Cornish was that you should never be afraid to experiment and try new things. My experience at Cornish was a unique one. I came in wanting to be a painter, and I left as a writer. With the way the visual art program was structured at the time, it required its students to try every single medium—painting, photography, digital art, sculpture, video, printmaking, etc. Surprisingly, I ended up loving my video classes the most. This led to a curiosity to learn more traditional storytelling, and I was able to partake in the theater department’s Original Works program for playwriting and directing. I absolutely loved this program and left school wanting to be a playwright. I honestly don’t think this type of experience would’ve been possible at any other school.
-What is your current career and how did your experience at Cornish lead you there?
I’m currently a Management & Development Executive at Pipeline Media Group, which hosts a variety of contests for screenwriters, filmmakers, and authors. My Cornish experience definitely influenced my journey to get to this point in my life, as I never lost that mindset of curiosity and experimentation. When I went back to school to earn my MFA in screenwriting at Florida State University, I was able to get a lot out of the program because I wasn’t afraid to revise my work or learn new things. I actually developed a reputation in my cohort for always making drastic revisions to my scripts, ha. All jokes aside, I believe it helped me grow immensely as a writer.
Cornish also taught me how to give effective notes to others, as all of my classes had some form of critique built in. Plus, I worked at the Writing Center for two years, which gave me professional experience in peer feedback. All the practice I had with giving notes definitely gave me an advantage at my MFA, as I got selected to co-teach screenwriting to the BFA class. Then, after graduation, I was able to find a job analyzing scripts and providing written feedback to writers, which led to my current position.
In general, I see my time at Cornish as the foundation for everything I do today, professionally and personally.
-Tell us your vision for the future of our arts world.
My vision for the future of the arts world is one in which artists all around the world can freely express their views. I feel very fortunate that I can explore socio-political issues in my work, should I choose to, but I’m very conscious that’s not the case for every artist.
-What else would you like us to know?
When I reflect on my undergrad years, I realize how special my time at Cornish was. Even though I’ve continued to pursue a career in the arts, I haven’t always been able to find a community as encouraging as my peers and faculty at Cornish. It truly felt like a safe place to try out anything—and I did! It sounds cheesy, but Cornish will always have a special place in my heart.
Check out some of Michelle’s work and more!
Writing samples: https://www.womennmedia.com/profile/michelle-domanowski/