Hi, I’m Melissa. And I’m the founder and creator of Said The Butterfly Studio.


I was born and raised outside Philadelphia, where I spent my childhood with my nose buried in every book I could get my hands on. Unless I was dancing to my orange-cased Whitney Houston cassette tape playing on my red boom box or doodling on the quickly turning pages of soon-full notebooks. When I ran out of places to create, I tie dyed every single pair of my dad’s underwear and undershirts. He pulled up the driveway after work to a sea of laundry lines full of his once white tighties. Now purple.  

As a college kid, I studied English Lit and Studio Art at Bucknell University. And then after moving to LA, I spent my nights and weekends earning a BA in Education at CalState Dominguez Hills. My career has spanned advertising, education, marketing and management. As a copywriter, a teacher and a manager. No matter what I do, creativity is the common thread in everything I do. 


When I first moved to California, I met legendary artist and teacher Gemma Taccogna. I just happened to live right next to her. Thank you, Universe. Over the next 5 years the course of my world titled and shifted with her influence. She invited me into the classes she taught in her living room turned studio and soon into her “famiglia.” If you’re wondering what she meant to me, think of Rocky and Mickey. Think Daniel-son and Mr. Miyagi. Think Oprah and Maya Angelou. That is what Gemma was to me. And what I was to her. Still and always.


All of my teaching is infused with Gemma’s spirit and philosophies. She was my darling friend and mentor. She called me her apprentice. Our arrangement was never so formal, it was more me coming over every day, doing the dishes when I couldn’t afford the class and soon realizing I had no shoes at home because I’d left all of them under the studio table. Soon I was signing painting after painting, ringing her Tibetan bell and next thing I knew I was leading classes of my own. Gemma looked in her crystal ball and saw all of what I would become. And I am slowly living my way into it. Thank you.


And now I’m on the most creative journey of all, motherhood. I’m the proud mama of a 5 year old boy I call Mr. P and a 1 year old girl whose middle name is “Lou.” And I'm learning firsthand about the need for self care. As in, it's at the core of my own ability to be the kind of parent I want to be. Connecting creativity and self care is a true Joy. I'm so honored to help create that space for others, too. And a supportive and silly husband named Bob makes it all possible. “Thank you Bob for taking care of my Maaaaa-lissa,” Gemma proclaimed once she finally fell in love with him, like I did.


No matter where you are on your creative journey, you are welcome.  I'll tell you what. My journey is still unfolding big time. It's such a Joy to share this part of it with you. This time. This space. This now. I hope to see you soon in the studio!


Learn even more about me and my story in this interview with Voyage LA