Monica is an illustratory designer, currently living in Saint Louis, but with deeply seeded Indiana roots. She is a pop culture enthusiast, a teller of dad jokes and Netflix marathoner. Her knowledge of the Kardashians is truly astounding and she can name all of Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt’s children on command. She looks up to Detective Olivia Benson, Taylor Swift and Ruth Bader Ginsburg.
Her evenings are either spent at concerts or creating something. Her voice resides in her artwork and she uses it as a vehicle to disperse ideas and opinions. Her backpack is always filled with paper, headphone and a handful of utensils.
She has a beautiful girlfriend, Elizabeth that puts up with her messes and ridiculous forgetfulness. They have cat that is the spawn of Satan that has name but normally just gets called Cat. Her preference would be to wear jeans and converse for every occasion. One day, she hopes to have a wiener dog named Ted Kennedy.
1. What’s your medium of choice and what do you love about it?
Good old fashion, paper and pencil are my first and my forever loves. But I love the forgiveness that a computer can give. Digital exploration has become something I have grown to love. As I started to become more comfortable as a designer, I found that both hand-generated and computer-generated art could exist in the same sphere. I draw inspiration from Kate Bingaman-Burt, Mikey Burton, Tad Carpenter, Frank Chimero and Lisa Congdon. I see these artists creating a successful marriage between illustration and design. These “designy illustrators” made me fall in love all over again with the paper and pencil, while still utilizing the millions of possibilities the computer holds.
2. What are you working on right now? What’s on your camera/desk/easel or in your studio?
Other than art, music is my biggest passion, so I’m currently working on a book that will document all the shows I’ve seen this year. Often music inspires me creatively, so it seemed like a logical pairing. I also feel like this is a great chance to try and capture the essence of a musical experience on paper. We’ll see if I finish. I have a lot of half finished projects.
Another project I am working on is a zine that will hopefully explore the queer identity through a couple of volumes. Often there are only certain narratives that surface about the queer experience and that is truly unfortunate. I feel like that is the struggle with a lot of minority groups. One member or narrative is chosen as the voice of the many, when in actuality there are so many more voices to be heard. I wanted to offer a space for queer individuals to tell their stories from their lens, so we can get a more holistic representation of queer identity. Once again, a work in progress, but I love the direction this one is taking.
3. What practices/activities are most valuable to your creative process?
I try to never throw anything out. Most pieces I create are born from thumbnail sketches and doodles. Sometimes the doodles make the actual piece. The journey to the finished piece is most valuable to me. Sometimes ideas will not work for a particular piece but will work for another.
4. What’s one thing you want to share with others about your art and/or process?
I have a sketchbook, but I feel like it often limits me. Especially new ones. Which sounds stupid, right? But think about it. How much pressure do you feel to have a really good first page or a book full of masterpieces? I used to find that pressure crippling. There is nothing stopping you from three-hole punching printer paper and putting it in a three-ring binder. Draw something you really can’t stand and hope it never sees the light of day? Rip it out of the binder. No harm no foul — and you can get over that terrifying “first page syndrome.” It’s surprisingly liberating.
5. What advice would you give to your young artist self?
• Create a community with fellow creatives. Use them as sounding boards. Use them to teach you new things. Use them to inspire you. Immerse yourself with collaborative and supportive individuals that expand your environment. But never compare yourself to them. Do not judge your first step by their twenty-third.
• Allow yourself the space to try different styles and mediums. Do not limit yourself. Every project is a chance to explore.
• Great tools will not make you a great artist. Practice and exploration will.
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