Meet Mari. Friend, illustrator, artist, genius and wise soul. I met Mari via e-mail years ago. She reached out to me and asked "how does one pursue their passion?". This started a long thread of back and forth letters where we both had the opportunity to voice what we really wanted from life, taking plunges, ignoring fear. It was basically like speaking to my personal Liz Gilbert/ Brene Brown/ Oprah hybrid. I have watched Mari fight those fears (like a GOT character) and today I observe her blooming and blossoming (like a Gucci scarf print).
Read her interview and know you are not alone when there are beautiful humans in this world like Mari.
Occupation: Writer and illustrator
What's your sign?: Libra with Libra rising
Where were you born: California, and I grew up in Seattle
How has this affected your aesthetic? And you as a person: I didn't have many friends growing up and I'm an only child, so I spent a lot of time by myself, watching movies and reading tons of books. It seemed like everything on screen and in print was about the east coast--nothing happened in Seattle! Even though I grew up right in the city, I felt like I was living in this strange, isolated jungle, and really couldn't wait to escape. I was much more influenced by Seinfeld, Woody Allen movies, and the delightful New York depicted in Sesame Street, than I was by my surroundings in the northwest.
The first time I ever visited New York as a teenager, it was just like, "Oh okay, I'm home now. These are my people. I've returned to them." I didn't realize how much my humor and perspective and preferences all basically came from this idea of New York I'd developed as a kid. Even though I live in DC, I visit New York often or else I feel homesick.
The movies/books/TV shows I consumed during my childhood are a huge influence on my art and writing. It wasn't fun to be such a strange little loner child, but now I'm thankful for all the time I spent by myself, exploring worlds far beyond where I lived and showing me what was possible in adulthood. Sometimes I'm able to take a step back from my life now and realize, "Wow, this is what I always wanted, what I always hoped life could be." It's usually the moments when I'm eating brunch in Nolita while wearing a mock turtleneck that I feel this way.
Favorite things you own: The art on my walls: I adore my Guatemalan folk decor as much as I love my acrylic neon cube sculptures that I don't fully understand.
Favorite thing about yourself: My resilience.
What was the last picture you took?: A photo of my comic for the day to post on Instagram. It takes about 10 tries to get decent lighting at 6am.
How do you deal with the blues?: Dancing, googling "Rio de Janeiro juice bars," and seeing a movie by myself with a mini bottle of wine.
I also try to dig deep down and find something meaningful about the experience as it's happening. I write a LOT in my journal about what I'm feeling and write down my plans to lift myself out of it. A friend recently told me, "You're like Adele--every time you're sad, your friends are excited because they know you're about to make some great art." That was the best compliment ever! Whenever I have a little distance from my pain, I'm always glad that I took time to really feel and observe it, so I have a ton of material to work with! A month of the blues gives you a year's worth of art.
What did you eat for lunch today?: Same thing every day: Wasa crackers with avocado and salmon
What is joy for you?: Getting to enjoy the life I created for myself
Advice for artists who are just beginning?:
No experience is wasted. When I look back on the past 10 years and I think about all the tiny moments that led to where I am now, it makes me laugh/gasp. I'm not sure what I believe about fate, but I firmly believe that you can take all your garbage experiences and make a cool life mosaic out of them. For instance, my distinct handwriting (which eventually led to illustration) developed from the boring task of having to write labels every day at a bakery where I worked when I was 23--who knew that dumb job would ever have any significance long-term?! Likewise, I met 100% of my closest friends in situations I thought were completely meaningless at the time. And I found the time and emotional space to begin writing my book right during a Bermuda Triangle of my dad's death, a painful breakup, and a traumatic surgery.
All of my favorite things I've created came from a deep place of pain or plaguing confusion. You may think "I'm working this lame job, I'll never be a true artist." But what you don't realize is that your lame job will become part of your art. I'm serious! If you keep creating throughout the hardest, loneliest, ugliest, directionless times of your life, you'll some day wake up and realize you paved a highway heading toward a really spectacular place.