Name: Mary Purdie
Location: Los Angeles, CA
Artistic Medium of Choice: Pen + Paper & Adobe Illustrator
Instagram handle: @drawnbymary
Please tell me a little bit about yourself?
I'm an illustrator currently living in L.A. with my husband. I've been an artist since I was a child and nurtured my talents throughout life. After college, I moved to NYC where, long story short, I completely lost my way for a few difficult years and pretty much abandoned art. Some time after meeting my graphic designer husband, I reconnected with my creative roots and in the past 5 years have been creating art inspired by my personal experiences, pop culture, current events, and feminism.
Can you describe the time when you first realized that creating was something you had to do?
As young as I can remember, drawing was my favorite activity. When I was 6 years old, I wrote and illustrated my first book using Mr. Sketch scented markers. It was called "The Lost Puppy," about a puppy named Kathy who felt neglected at home so she ran away and found a new family. Later in the story, her real family came to find her and bring her home and Kathy realized she really was loved. Obviously as a 6 year old, I was so proud of this creation. It's especially significant because my mom was working in a city 3 hours away at the time, so she was only home every other weekend. I don't remember feeling neglected, but my being the youngest of 4 children, my mom was so worried about me after reading my book! Looking back I laugh about it, but it's the earliest most powerful example of how I've been using art to express myself, even my subconscious feelings, for my entire life. It's always been second nature and I was lucky to have parents that nurtured my creativity.
What are you trying to communicate with your art?
My ultimate goal is to create art that people can relate to and feel connected to. I get most of my inspiration from my personal experiences and I know that the things I experience as a woman are not unique to me. This will come as no surprise to anyone who follows me, but I especially love combining pop culture references with my own experiences and feelings to create something that is familiar to a broader audience, but with an added personal element to connect our experiences. It's rewarding when I create art that is deeply personal, sometimes humorous, and makes someone say "oh my god, me too!"
What role does the artist have in society?
Art tells the stories of the current state of things in the most unique ways. The work of artists, writers, and creators connects people in profound ways and that is so important, particularly in trying times like we are experiencing now. Artists have a lot of power and in my opinion, it would be disappointing not to use that to reach and connect with people. There are times when I can't express with words my anger, outrage, or on the flip side, my hope, and love of community. I can create a piece of work to reflect those feelings and evoke a larger emotional response from more people. As I see it, that is a solid foundation to build on and potentially influence society for the greater good.
How do you overcome creative blocks?
This is an appropriate question because I've been struggling lately. How I approach it really depends on the day. Some days I sit down and force something out of myself, even if it turns out to be garbage in my opinion. It's important to not let the creative block consume me, so I have to keep creating. Sometimes it leads me to a great idea which is always the goal. A lot of the time, though, I end up no closer to breaking through. Creative blocks are my biggest enemy and they frustrate me to no end, but they've also been one of my greatest teachers. It forces me to dig deeper and question why I experience such significant creative blocks. So it's a lot of self-exploration. Sometimes I just have to zone out into a good playlist or tv show to clear my mind and get new inspiration. I've started meditating more when I get stuck, and I've added a few healing crystals to my environment. It might sound strange but it's been pretty life-changing for me to view it - and work through it - from a different perspective.
How has the country’s current state inspired your work?
Before the most recent presidential election, a lot of my creative inspiration was pretty much just "catcalling sucks!" and "how many ways can I draw Beyonce?" Watching the country unravel definitely brought up a lot of wild emotions for me. It started with mocking the ridiculousness of the things said during the debates, and I had fun with that in my art, making humor out of the mess. But when things really fell apart starting with the election results, I got really angry and that started to come through in my work. My inspiration quickly went from "catcalling sucks!" to "are you paying attention to this awful plan to strip your rights?!" and "please call your senators!" It's important to me that when I'm outraged by something, which is often, that I can use that as fuel to create something to remind myself (and hopefully some others) to keep fighting.
What do you think are some of the most inspiring things happening currently?
The resistance movement, absolutely. The current state of our country has birthed a lot of action from people who most likely would never have paid attention to certain issues had the election gone the other way. A lot of us are getting a big lesson in uncomfortable topics, like having to face our privilege, and the ways we may be unintentionally upholding white supremacy. I've had conversations with my peers that I'd probably not have under normal circumstances. I like to think that a lot of us are learning to check ourselves more often, and seeing more teachable moments to check those around us when we witness problematic behavior. It's disgusting and shameful the things that have happened to bring us to this place, but if we are having more conversations about how we need to change, listening more, and actively following through with those changes, I believe ultimately it will get us to a better place.
What has been your most touching moment you’ve experienced as an artist.
Anytime someone tells me that they came across a piece and it was exactly what they needed to see, I feel really good about what I'm doing. I have had a handful of people give me really wonderful compliments about how my art has personally touched them and sometimes I just think, "me? really?!" Sometimes I can't believe that someone feels so connected to something I made, but that's what it's all about! Through art, I've shared everything from dirty details about my period cramps to my fertility struggles and four miscarriages. It is the reason that I share such deeply personal stories, because I know I'm never alone. It feels like the most authentic and compelling way to use my creativity, to let others know that they aren't alone either.
What are you currently listening to and/or reading?
Currently listening to SZA all the time, because I'm still not tired of this album! Some of my favorite podcasts at the moment are The Guilty Feminist, The Read, and Politically Re-Active. I just finished "You Are A Badass" by Jen Sincero and next I'm reading "Hunger" by Roxane Gay.
What are some of your self-care tips during these trying times?
Self-care is so personal, I think it's important to do what makes you feel good. That can vary a lot depending on your personality! I'm pretty introverted so I enjoy taking small breaks from social media (like, a few hours does wonders if I'm being honest), giving myself at least one full day a week to do very little or nothing at all other than rest my mind. Sunshine is important to me, I need a daily dose even if it's just 15 minutes, it works miracles on my mood. Weekly sage cleansing of my apartment is in my routine now as is meditating a few times a week. And since I'm working on getting pregnant so I can birth a small army of feminist babies, I'm very into acupuncture right now for keeping my stress down and good energy flowing.