Here's the long story:
I wanted to be an artist since I was probably four years old. I say probably four because I don’t want to sound like those people who brag that they “did gymnastics since they were one” or “played the oboe in the womb”. We all know that’s not possible, and those people are liars. With that in mind, I started drawing around the age that most kids can reasonably pick up and scribble with a crayon. The difference is that I never stopped.
Drawing became my catharsis. To cope with my vanished spot on the only-child throne, I’d make pictures of my baby brother laying out in the backyard, or in a jail cell, while my mom, dad and I smiled and hugged off-frame. My artwork wasn’t always troubling, though. Once the rage was out, I began to create my own characters and tell my own stories. I’d make stand-ins for who I wanted to be--the “ideal Audrey” with the ability to fly--or a princess who could always outsmart the enemy. The stories became more elaborate, and I’d staple them into books and (if I felt brave enough) shared them with friends at recess.
I do also remember making a comic about how cool popcorn is.
Speaking of comics, once I got older, they became an outlet for me to cope with the woes of being a teenager. And eventually, gave me a voice as I navigated the art scene in college. I became aware that I could make those same stories as an adult, only exploring real world and sometimes heavy topics. If the world was lactose, comics was chewable Lactaid tablets. When I studied Fine Art at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I realized that I could bring my characters into any medium I wanted. I could tell their stories through huge glossy paintings with punch-you-in-the-face colors, or in a series of small tradable pastel screen prints. And of course, when I took comics during my senior year, my love of characters and storytelling helped me fit right in.
During my senior year of college, I undertook a huge project that I was itching to do, but was not required of my major. I created a thesis show based around a series of characters that I developed--all women or non-binary individuals--with the overarching theme of race car driving. These characters had their own rich backstory, personality, and passion to go really really fast. I created life-sized prints of them to tower over viewers, hand-painted real actual racing helmets, screen prints of their numbers and vehicles, a zine with a spread on each person, and a table of merch for guests to take home. For a little while, I was able to bring these characters to life.
Besides the slow buildup throughout my childhood, this project solidified my love for storytelling in a personal and professional sense. And that love includes the dedication: the willingness to go through long hours of research for months and months, to do countless drawings and iterations of these characters, and to not give up on the story even when it seemed impossible.
I want nothing more than to keep staying involved with projects like this. It’s an itch I have to scratch. My passion is with the story, and with the characters who hold it up. No matter the form the project may take, I’m up for the challenge of helping to make it a reality.