Mari Andrew

Mari Andrew


 1. Tell us about your process. Have you always done sketches and cartoons? 

I’ve only been doing them for a little over a year. I’ve always been a writer, and my cartoons involve a lot of text, so it feels like a natural extension of writing—just in shorter, more colorful bursts.

2. You’re currently working on a book of illustrated essays—what will that look like? What topics are you covering?

It’s a book of essays about my 20s, sort of my navigation into adulthood. Each chapter will focus on a theme such as love or loss, and I’m creating original illustrations for each theme.


3. Your work feels really fun and playful—is this a style that you’ve always had or is it indicative of your life season?

My work is the same as it’s been since I was five; I can’t really draw any other way! I’ve never taken an art class or really tried to work on my style, so that’s why they look like a child drew them. My inner child drew them! Also, since my work is text-heavy and the drawings are just there to support the words, I keep the illustrations very simple. Some of my themes can be a little dark, so I’m happy to keep the visuals cheerful.

4. You capture elements of life so succinctly. From where do you get inspiration for your cartoons?

I get every idea directly from my life. It’s either something I’m going through right now, or a memory I’m reflecting back on. Sometimes I’ll post something that seems so specific to my life that I assume I’m the only one who’s ever been through it … and then I get hundreds of comments saying something to the effect of “Me too!” That’s the best feeling.


5. How has your recent “fame” on social media affected your work? Do you feel more pressure to produce now?

I try not to think about it! I do feel pressure to keep posting every day and sometimes that gets challenging, time-wise. But, I rarely get a creative block because I draw from my life, and I’m always out there living!

6. How are you seeing the fruit of your creative work blooming now from seeds that you planted long ago?

I’ve always been trying to find my creative “home,” really since I was able to pick up a pen. I am naturally very expressive and wondered for a long time what exactly that would look like in my adult life: whether I’d be a photographer, journalist, essayist, songwriter, whatever. The options paralyzed me from picking a lane. I started drawing just because it made me happy, and I’m very pleased to report that it’s still a very relaxing part of my day. Now that I have this hobby, I’m able to draw from periods of my life that felt much more confusing or directionless. It’s all come together, and I’m really grateful for it.


7. What or who do you read to help inspire your work? What other resources do you recommend to fellow creatives?

I don’t read much about art or creativity (although I highly Big Magic to everyone!), but just soaking up the genius of others is really helpful! I’m especially inspired by Lin-Manuel Miranda, Jonny Sun, Chance the Rapper, Brene Brown, and Tig Notaro. I’m trying to do the same thing they do—take life experiences, particularly the painful ones, and make something new out of it.


8. Do you have a scripture, word, or mantra that guides your work?

Show up. 


9. What is something you have learned in the past year that you are taking in to the New Year with fresh eyes?

Last year was the first year of my career as an artist, and I spent a lot of time getting my sea legs. I worried about every little thing and took criticism very seriously. Now I finally feel confident in calling myself “an artist” (it’s my job now!) and what goes along with that is the knowledge of what to worry about and what not to worry about. There are some people whose thoughtful criticism I would really take to heart, but most others I have given myself permission to ignore. It takes a lot of emotional energy to make art, so I can’t give that energy to things that ultimately don’t matter, like comments from trolls. 

10. If you could provide a word of advice to about making art in a busy season, what would it be? 

You can’t make good art if you don’t have time to read, and you don’t have time to read if you don’t make time for yourself. Some obligations have to be postponed for you to tend to the obligation of self-discovery

Connect with Mari: Website // Instagram // Twitter

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