Art + Fashion + Music + Culture
Art + Fashion + Music + Culture
A DC-based writer and illustrator, Mari offers an honest, relatable perspective to common situations, from moving to heartbreak to navigating issues of mental health. Her work tugs at your heart-strings in a comforting way, as if to say, “You are not alone.”
With over 500K followers on Instagram, that message is reaching a lot of people. But before it was a viral platform, Mari’s Instagram was an accountability tool. She started with the simple intention of creating and sharing one illustration a day. She’s grown in fame since then, but that core action of drawing to process emotion every day remains the same.
We chatted with her about the artistic process and what defines an artist (spoiler: it’s the “doing” part), the common theme of vulnerability in her work and life in general, and more.
M: [Legit LOL.] It’s looked like: a barista, a legal assistant, a boutique manager, a marketing associate, a gymnastics teacher, an ESL tutor, and always an aspiring freelance writer. Safe to say I’m still on a career path, and I hope to be forever! Good material for my writing 🙂
M: I wrote a book of essays and illustrations, coming out in March 2018! It’s taking over the whole horizon right now, like a big giant sunset.
M: It’s such a part of who I am, just in my genetic makeup or something, to want to express myself and share my feelings. I’ve always been overwhelmingly emotional. I remember crying for hours when I was a kid because I was feeling what I can now identify as “nostalgia” because I saw an old phone and thought it was so lovely I couldn’t stand it. The only way I could get through these foreign heavy emotions is to write about them, and sharing them gave me a sense of validation–”other people feel this way too.” I think it’s wonderful for people to work toward vulnerability because it almost always benefits others, but for me personally, sharing is how I naturally function. It’s how I connect and feel like I’m not a complete alien weirdo person.
M: The overarching message is always “you can do this too.” I started drawing at age 28 with zero previous experience except for doodles on notebook margins. All my ideas come from my life and all my supplies come from the drugstore. The line between “person who draws” and “artist” is nonexistent.
M: Many other illustrators–my favorite is @lianafinck. She’s such a good writer. She inspires me to go a little deeper into my immediate feelings and see what else is there besides the obvious. I also love any artist who works from a place of relaxation and joy, since illustrating is very soothing and happy for me. I love all Brazilian music for this reason, as well as Chance the Rapper, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Lizzo, Josh Ritter, Jonny Sun, and my samba dance teacher.
M: By drawing! I started doing it in part because it was NOT an activity that required any technology. I also do “Morning Pages” (writing 3 pages free-hand when I first get up) which sets the tone for a relatively unplugged day. Key word is “relatively!”
M: I draw to process how I feel on any given day, so I make political drawings when it’s on my mind. I wouldn’t say it’s changed my work, just given me something additional to process!
M: It used to be hard to think of ideas, but now I think my brain is trained to see them everywhere! That’s what happens when you do something every day. Also, as much as I enjoy doing an illustration a day, it comes from what I feel like expressing at that moment. It’s a diary for me–although I often reference things that happened to me a long time ago. I always try to keep perspective: If Instagram were to disappear tomorrow, would I still do this? Yes, absolutely. So the project doesn’t control the work. At this point, if I didn’t have anything to draw, I just wouldn’t!
M: My favorite is writing letters and emails. I have a tattoo of an envelope, I enjoy it so much.
M: My move has been postponed until I fully recover from an autoimmune disease I got in March, so it feels a bit distant at this point. Exciting, but distant. New York is a comforting, healing, and inspiring city for me so I will feel so happy and lucky to be there. For now, I feel happy and lucky to be taking my time as I get my strength back so I can walk at NYC pace.
“I’m constantly thinking of ways to be closer to you, but all I have is my phone.”
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