Mari Andrew

:: AGE

29

:: LOCATION

Washington, DC, USA

:: MEDIUM

illustration

:: IDENTIFIES AS

Woman (lady?)

As a womxn or womxn of color, why do you think it is important to create?

Women are told in many ways that their experiences–particularly their emotional experiences–don’t matter. Our emotions are made fun of, belittled, suppressed. But our stories are enormously important; they’re the tales of how we got through life! Everyone in the world benefits when women speak from their intuition, resilience, and bravery. Telling our personal stories is such a radical act, especially when we cry while doing so! Showing emotion is such a sign of strength, but it won’t be seen that way by the rest of the world til we can be free to stop apologizing for our feelings and instead assign great value to them.

What has been your proudest moment as an artist/creative?

When someone tells me that something I drew made them feel comforted or not so alone–that’s a feeling I didn’t even know I could feel. It’s amazing. I make art completely from my own personal experiences so when people tell me that they really connected to something I made, it makes me feel more connected and less alone, too.

How do you define love?

Love protects us from that inevitable feeling of, “I can’t go on.”

What is the space that you like to create in?

I have an art studio space that I share with some really supportive, creative, thoughtful women. Walking there every morning is such a beautiful way to start my day. It’s the cutest little turquoise brick storefront painted with lemons, and inside it’s a plant-filled emporium with cheerful weavings and festive prints hanging on the wall. I bring in my iced almond milk latte, I play a podcast, and I make about three drawings at a time before I have to run to work. I’m usually there by myself, but the space has a magical feminine energy that really motivates me as I work. I can be so tough on myself, so being around other women artists who are so gentle and encouraging is a soothing antidote for angry self-talk.

I adore my tiny art-covered apartment, but going to a space to work is like going to a gym to work out; it’s a mental shift to say, “I’m going to a certain place to do this thing that’s important for me.” I didn’t really feel like a “real artist” until I had my own designated space to be one.

What do you like to listen to while you create?

Podcasts and hip-hop. Sometimes Spanish guitar if I’m feeling moody.

What do you do with art that you aren’t particularly fond of?

I usually put it out into the world anyway and see if someone else is fond of it.

How do you make time to create?

I wake up early, which is so hard for me! A wise woman once told me, “Everyone, and everything in the universe is trainable.” She was actually referring to the shape of my eyebrows and my need to pluck them more often, but I’ve transferred that philosophy over to my art process. I’ve trained myself to enjoy getting up early and going to my art studio before my day job. I’ve trained myself to think of ideas throughout the day. I’ve trained myself to refer to myself as “an artist,” which was a huge emotional step, and means that I HAVE to carve out this time–it’s not an option to skip it. It’s always hard giving up your mornings or your social time to do art instead, but if you announce to yourself, “This is what I’m all about, and this is crucial to my existence and identity,” you’ll be more likely to make the time you need.

What’s your earliest memory of making art?

My earliest memory period was learning how to make myself laugh, which is the same as making art. Learning from an early age to find humor in my own existence has been the greatest gift, and essential to making art.

What or who keeps you inspired?

I illustrate moments from my life, so I have to keep experiencing things or I’m going to run out of material! For my work, it’s totally necessary that I go on dates, meet new people, travel to new places, go to work, explore new feelings and places and relationships and haircuts. Drawing from my own life means that I’m less likely to see the things that happen to me as “good” or “bad”–I see them as inspiration for my next drawing. Instead of wondering, “What is the effect of this on my life?” I think “Where is the humor in this situation? Can other people connect to this feeling?”

How do you define art?

Public process of personal experiences

What does art mean to you?

Art is a connection to someone you may never know.

Creative pursuits take time, energy, and most importantly honoring yourself. Thank you Mari for reminding us to make art non-optional for ourselves in spite of everyday competing priorities.