Meet the Artist: Mandy Spisak, Retro Revival

Mandy Mosaics
The art of upcycling: Giving a vibrant new life to forgotten materials.

By Kelli Comer

“Everything old is new again” is certainly evident in local artist Mandy Spisak’s resourceful and gorgeous mosaics, created entirely with upcycled materials.

Primarily inspired by nature, Mandy’s passion for mosaics blossomed during the pandemic lockdown when she was unable to go to her studio to create. Like her fellow artists, she used this time to draw inspiration from her immediate surroundings, looking out the window and walking in her yard to see what led to a spark of creativity. Mandy was limited with the materials she had on hand at home, so she turned to using upcycled wallpaper and fabric, discovering a love of the art of mosaic and creating a new life for old materials. The myriad patterns and colors in these upcycled textiles vividly bring to life birds and nature that surround and inspire her.

“Upcycling has been a passion of mine for many years. I visited the Zero Landfill Cleveland events every time they held their ‘harvest’ events,” Mandy explains. “Zero Landfill is an organization that collects donated materials such as upholstery fabrics, wallpaper and tile samples from architecture and interior design firms. The materials are available for anyone to collect, welcoming artists, teachers and hobbyists.”

Each mosaic starts with a drawing, then Mandy decides on a substrate. “Sometimes it’s a wood panel, other times it’s a thrifted dish from Goodwill,” notes Mandy. Then begins her hunt for the colors and patterns that will translate her drawing into a mosaic. The upcycled pieces are hand cut to fit into the drawing, working to achieve shadows and highlights with a variety of textures. Once affixed to the substrate, a final clear coat is applied to protect the work.

Mandy graduated from the Cleveland Institute of Art with a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts in Painting and Enameling. She is a working artist, art instructor and antique restorer. Mandy grew up in a home that encouraged ingenuity and was raised by very creative parents who have always been supportive of her artistic pursuits. Her husband is also an artist, and they have encouraged their daughter to embrace her creativity and love for the arts. Together they own Retro Revival, an antique restoration and art studio. Mandy is also an instructor at Peninsula Art Academy, teaching Upcycled Collage and Crafting for Mindfulness.

Mandy Spisak

“Part of the fun in creating work from upcycled materials is the challenge of finding just the right color and tone of fabric or wallpaper to work within my design,” Mandy smiles. “I love using unexpected patterns and colors to achieve a whimsical feel. I love it when people view my work and can’t figure out what materials were used.”

Retro Revival is located at 9000 Bank Street, Suite C in Valley View. To learn more, visit Follow Mandy on Facebook and Instagram @TheRetroRevival and on TikTok @RetroRevGirl.

Categories: Arts & Entertainment