Ella Dwyer is a painter, devoted beach comber, mobile maker, and vintage seller. She runs Thief Island Vintage from her home in Milwaukee. She finds the wildest, most beautiful pieces and has the best style.


What’s the first thing you think about when you wake up? "Like most people out there, I think it’s been a challenging year to be a human being. Between our unfortunate political reality, the pandemic, and the horrific display of systemic racism that continues coming to light, I’d have to say that my morning meditation routine has been more important to me than ever before.  When I wake up I tend to pour myself a cup of tea and then try to go sit on my cushion for 20-30 mins before looking at my phone and getting carried away with things. It’s hard to put into words, but it gives me a chance to let go of control and just witness everything that my mind has been taking in and how I’m reacting to it on a subtler level.  When the bell rings at the end and it’s time to dig in to my day, I hopefully have a little more strength or creativity to face the harder stuff."

What's your favorite part about Milwaukee/place?

Is there something new that you've started doing in the past 4 months?

"In the past 4 months I’ve picked up kinetic sculpture making. I think this also ties into the other question about what my favorite place in Milwaukee is. I love walking along Lake Michigan in the mornings. I feel fortunate that we live next to one of the biggest bodies of fresh water. It is constantly providing me inspiration for making artwork, as well as fresh air and a chance to be in nature. I walk along the beach and find various items to add to my art making process. Driftwood, glass, broken pottery,  tumbled plastics - I have a few big jars at home filled with all kinds of artifacts I’ve found and I’ve recently been enjoying turning them into hanging mobiles. Things have started to move at a slower pace for me. Being in nature, decompressing and looking for objects has become one of my favorite things to do. With the state of the world and the bottom falling out, sometimes it’s the smallest things that can bring the biggest amount of joy amidst the confusion. I am thankful to live in Milwaukee and to have access to this body of water, and I’m also grateful for what it provides me to constantly re-invent myself."


You can find her on Instagram @thiefislandvintage