Every October, artists all over the world take on the InkTober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day the entire month. And this October, Loud and Alive brings you their stories.
Art is therapeutic. Yes, I know you and your mother know that already. But do you really?
When we talk about art being used by people who have suffered, we usually have an image of a privileged white writer like Ernest Hemingway, who has decided that he shouldn’t try and help with his works – instead, it is enough to mope about all the difficulties life has presented him with. We think about writing hard and clear about what hurts.
But have you considered drawing about it?
Megan has, and it is such a pleasure to have her here with us today. You might know about her by her username, @littlekiwifrog. Well, Megan talked to us about being an art therapy student, the freedom fanart gives you, and never comparing yourself with others. So check it out!
Lana: Tell us a little about yourself, Megan.
Megan: My name is Megan, I’m 22, an artist/writer, and am studying to be an art therapist!
Lana: How do you feel your personal life impacted your art?
Megan: I come from a family of artists that encouraged me throughout my childhood to create and keep improving. I also fell in with a great group of friends that were all artists when I was young—we used to have sleepovers where we would do nothing but lie around and draw all night while we talked. I’m still friends with most of them even though we’ve all gone our separate ways in college.
Other than that, I draw a lot of inspiration from my own life experiences, both good and bad. I’ve struggled with both depression and an anxiety disorder, and I use art and storytelling as a way to make sense of my own feelings. If I can visualize or verbalize the way I’m feeling and what I think its source is, it becomes a lot less overwhelming and easy to accept. This is a large part of why I’m going into art therapy.
Lana: How did you start drawing?
Megan: My mother gave me a big paper Marshall Fields bag and some crayons and let me have at it! The result was a big ridiculous scribble, as you’d expect. My mom told me to show my dad and tell him it was an “anomaly”. That story still gets told pretty often at family parties.
Lana: Who are your influences, when it comes to art?
Megan: So many! I think one of my first inspirations was Noelle Stevenson, who has this adorable, noodly style and uses it for everything from silly fan art to beautiful storytelling (check out her comic Nimona if you haven’t, it’s amazing) to very personal vent art. I think seeing how sort of informal her style was, but seeing how much she was able to do with it really helped me realize that you don’t have to make things hyper-realistic and serious for it to be good art.
Other than that, Lois Van Baarle and Viet-my Bui taught me a lot about color use and visual characterization. And Emmy Cicierega taught me that you’re allowed to draw for yourself and doodle silly stuff and play around with your style as much as you want.
Lana: What are some challenges you face when creating art?
Megan: It’s rare that I have a day where all of my artistic skills are ‘on’. Some days I’ll have a thousand ideas for drawing subjects or concepts, but can’t figure out an interesting composition for the life of me. Other days I’ll have ideas for color pallets or poses but I can’t think of anything to draw! I combat this by writing lists of ideas when I get them, and marking what stage my pieces are in my WIP file. That way, if I get a day where I can only get color to work, I can look into my WIP file and pick something that’s marked “XYZ_linework.psd”.
Lana: You’re a big fan of Fallout, as far as I could tell. What is it in that game that makes you feel so drawn to it?
Megan: Fallout takes place in a post-post-apocalyptic world that’s in the process of recovering after ~200 years of being a super irradiated, unlivable wasteland. This lends itself to a lot of stories of people that are just trying to survive, often times while also trying to help others. There’s a lot of dark and depressing content in it for sure, but that makes the hopeful parts of it that much more appealing. My favorite characters in the Fallout franchise are always those that have found a way to help people around them, even if they themselves are struggling with mental illness or trauma or guilt.
That, and Fallout’s aesthetic is a post-apocalyptic version of 50s retro-futurism, and that’s kind of awesome.
Lana: Is there a big difference between creating fanart and works based on original characters?
Megan: Personally, I find it’s a very similar process. In both situations, I want to visualize the character in a way that’s going to show their personality and help tell their story. I think the only difference is having to worry about characterizing someone that a lot of people already know and have perceptions of versus a character that only I know and can characterize however I want.
Lana: You play a lot with your style; how do these changes come to be?
Megan: Because I’m an art student, a lot of the times I’m expected to make these beautiful, finished pieces that only allow so much space for experimentation. A lot of the times I have to sacrifice trying out new techniques and styles for doing what I already know works so I can get a good grade. Tumblr lets me have this creative freedom where I can mess around with styles while drawing non-original characters that already have established designs/personalities/stories, something I don’t get to do much for class work.
Lana: What are your other interests and do you ever feel them showing in your art, like with Fallout?
Megan: My interest in psychology and love of writing leads me to play around with character stories and relationships, which is what I like to focus on the most in my doodles/silly comics. Making art is my chance to focus on the happy, positive stuff when it comes to characters that are usually pretty tragic.
Lana: We are a feminist site and I have to ask – what do you think is the biggest challenge in feminism today?
Megan: I personally find that there’s still a lot of social stigma around even the term feminism. I’ve gotten groans as a response to referring to myself as feminist more than once, especially when it relates to me pointing out how patriarchal concepts make things sucky for men too. Because there’s so much of this sort of eye-rolling, repulsed mentality, it makes it discussing things that affect everyone—like virginity being a social construct, toxic masculinity, or any number of sexist tropes and why they’re harmful in the media we all consume—very difficult because feminism as whole gets shrugged off so often.
Lana: Do you have any advice for aspiring artists?
Megan: The only person you should compare yourself to is your past self! Don’t worry about everyone else, just worry about trying your best to be a little bit better than you were yesterday, and don’t beat yourself up over it if you don’t feel like you are—that means you’re seeing problems, and identifying problems is the first step to finding a solution for them.
Lana: Thank you so much, Megan! Is there anything else you would like to say?
Megan: I had a lot of fun answering these, thank you for interviewing me!
You can find Megan on Tumblr.