Chicago art by MJ Ernst.

Today we’re having a FlashBack Friday and returning to our great friend MJ Ernst—truly one of our Catalyst Ranch family. Back in December 2015, we blogged an interview with this multi-hyphenate artist as we debuted the gorgeous Catalyst Ranch 2016 Coloring Book Calendar she illustrated for us.

And what an apropos #FBF too, since she’ll be leading two engaging Play Sessions for this year’s Camp Boundless All-Day Urban Camp, popping off this Saturday Feb 23! Get your ticket right over here—MJ will be your Camp Counselor for fountain pen art and embroidered jewelrymaking! ?

Now let’s get reacquainted with our pal MJ Ernst!

Art by MJ Ernst. Copyright 2019 MJ Ernst

Copyright 2019 MJ Ernst

Since we saw you last, what new artistic pools have you dived into?

My goal in 2015 was to do more with my art, I jumped in with both feet! In 2016 I became an Admin with the Chicago chapter of the international collective Urban Sketchers (USK). This position has brought me many opportunities.
In 2017, I helped organize the 2017 USKGlobal Symposium hosted by our local chapter. Chicago had 600 artists from 34 countries sketching in every downtown corner!

What a cool event to be a part of and, greater still, to help make happen! What about life outside the artistic realm? As we know and champion at Catalyst Ranch, learning and growth is never over, and there’s always opportunity for more. Any personal landmarks that you’re especially proud of?

Art by MJ Ernst. Copyright 2019 MJ Ernst

Copyright 2019 MJ Ernst

In 2018, I decided to tackle my fear of public speaking after I realized I was missing out on some great opportunities. I was a demonstrating artist at the Chicago Pen Show and represented Chartpak at the Colored Pencil Society of America convention last Spring. My artwork has been in several local shows. This Spring I will be teaching some Ink art classes at a small art center in my hometown in Michigan. This June I will be an instructor at the USK Chicago Sketch Seminar 2019. Amazing things happen when you start to conquer what your brain tells you are no good at. 

Wow. You said it! You’re also a big part of the All-Day Urban Camp happening this weekend. How did that come about?

In 2016 Ranch Czarina Eva Niewiadomski and myself founded Camp Boundless. After attending a 4 day digital-free overnight camp in California, we decided to create something similar in an urban setting. We offer engaging activities that spark imagination through creative opportunities.
This type of “Social Club” organizes pop up events during the year, but we’re ramping up to our big event: Camp Boundless 2019, held at Catalyst Ranch (our home base) this Saturday Feb 23th. Camp is a digital-free, judgment-free, safe zone with day-long activities, games and great food.

What do you value most about Camp Boundless?

CB has been a really nice creative outlet for both of us and we have met some fun, brilliant souls along the way. Camp reminds me the importance of slowing down, ditching my phone and just having fun and truly connecting with others. That social aspect is a huge boon for taking part in Saturday’s Camp. I am looking forward to accomplishing my other goal for 2019 which is: meeting new people.

Yeah, Camp Boundless really is special. Congrats on all your work with it!
And what else is on the horizon for MJ Ernst? After All-Day Camp wraps up, what else is on your plate?

My goal for 2019 is to continue to conquer my list of fears and keep an open mind to all of the new opportunities that will come my way this year!

Connect with MJ on social media!