A Conversation with Almost Real Founder Michelle Owen
Transitioning Tunes to Timeless Art

The soft hum of Melbourne's winter settled over the city as I welcomed Michelle Owen into my office. The petite entrepreneur, dressed in a simple white shirt, black tailored pants, and understated Adidas Samba's, exuded a fresh-faced elegance. Her quiet sophistication was instantly engaging. As we settled into our conversation, it became clear that Michelle's journey from high-flying global DJ and music producer to an art enthusiast supporting local photography artists was nothing short of fascinating.

Like many female creative entrepreneurs, Michelle and I bonded immediately over our mutual love for art and a steaming cup of herbal tea – a necessity in Melbourne's chilly weather. We delved into her experiences, from the glamorous highs of her DJ career to the more subdued yet equally fulfilling work with Almost Real, the online gallery and creative platform she founded. This platform has become a beacon for fine art photography and visual arts, showcasing the work of emerging artists with an emphasis on authenticity and emotional resonance.

Michelle's story took an exciting turn recently with her fun yet brief encounter at Australian Fashion Week. She accompanied her partner, the incredible swimming champion and Olympian Michael Klim, on a business trip to Melbourne. Amid the hustle and bustle of their busy schedules, I was lucky enough to steal some time with Michelle for a genuine, girly chat about work, life, and everything in between.

Read on as we unpack career transitions, pivoting, and balancing life in between.

Maria Ugrinovski (MU): Michelle, thank you so much for joining me here in Melbourne. You've had quite the journey from being a DJ to founding Almost Real. Could you start by telling us what sparked your transition from music to art?

Michelle Owen (MO): It all started with my passion for music. I was a sound engineer turned DJ and music producer for 20 years but as time went on, I realised I wanted something more. Almost Real began as a media platform interviewing creatives and sharing their stories but during COVID it evolved into a gallery featuring photography and art from all over the world.

MU: You mentioned that you were deeply involved in the music industry. What was it like transitioning to a completely different field?

MO: It was challenging but exciting. Music was my life – I worked for Sony and Universal Music record labels, played in clubs like Watergate and Panorama Bar (Berghain) in Berlin, and travelled all over Europe as a DJ. But over time, I felt a shift. Moving from the stability of Australia to the vibrant, unpredictable world of Ibiza and later Berlin, I learned a lot about myself. The transition to art came naturally as I started Almost Real, inspired by the creativity I encountered in Berlin.

MU: Your experience sounds incredible. How did you manage the challenges of starting anew in different cities like Ibiza and Berlin?

MO: It was definitely a leap of faith. In Ibiza, I was surrounded by amazing music, but the lack of a support network was tough. Moving to Berlin was pivotal – I worked at Beatport and was immersed in a creative environment. It taught me resilience and the importance of adaptability.

MU: Almost Real is now a significant platform for emerging artists. How did the idea of launching a 35mm film camera, Snaaps, come about?

MO: Snaaps is an extension of Almost Real. I wanted to create something tangible, a product that encourages creativity. It's about capturing moments in a way that feels more authentic and connected.

MU:Your journey is a testament to the power of reinvention. What advice would you give to someone looking to pivot their career?

MO: Embrace the unknown and stay true to your passions. It's okay to feel lost or unsure; it's part of the process. Learn new skills, stay adaptable, and don't be afraid to start from scratch. Most importantly, find joy in what you do and be authentic.

MU: Speaking of joy, how do you balance managing Almost Real and still finding time for your music?

MO: Music is now more of a personal passion. I still DJ at Icebergs, Bondi and Mrs Sippy, Bali and curate music for events, which blends well with my work in art. The overlap between curating art and music keeps both areas fresh and exciting for me. Like working on Zoneout Festival and Noosa Eat Drink Festival. 

MU: What can we expect next from Almost Real and your other projects?

MO: We're continually evolving. With Almost Real, we're focusing on brand activations and solo exhibitions. As for Snaaps, we only launched in December 2023 so we're expanding its reach and establishing new creative ventures between Australia and Bali. It's an exciting time, and I can't wait to see where it goes.

As we sipped our tea and shared stories, Michelle's warmth and enthusiasm shone through. Whether discussing the intricacies of art curation or reminiscing about the electrifying energy of DJ sets, her passion was palpable. She reminded me that the path to success is often winding and unpredictable, but it's the journey – with all its ups and downs – that shapes us into who we are.

So, if you haven't already, make yourself a cuppa or a cocktail, and take a few moments to bond with us girls over how we can transition into careers we may never have thought about before. Michelle Owen's story is a beautiful reminder that it's possible to create a fulfilling and dynamic career by following one's passions and embracing the unknown.

Written by Maria Uginovski

For the full interview, listen to our engaging conversation on Youtube & Spotify.

If you're seeking that perfect print to add a little uniqueness to your space, head to Almost Real and find your perfect timeless art piece while supporting artists in original art.

Follow:

@michelleowen @_almostreal_ @snaaps35mm

Image credit Almost Real

Shoot Film Not Bullets by Stu Chapman

Last Palm by Caley Vanula

Remote Work by Anna Landstedt

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A Conversation with Almost Real Founder Michelle Owen