Creative Ladies: Summer Pierre

Summer Pierre author photo
I’ve been in awe of Summer Pierre’s work ever since I first laid eyes on her book The Artist in the Office. And when I picked up Great Gals and realized it was just as great, she became one of my favorite artists. Both books are encouraging and inspiring, and I return to them whenever I feel burnt out or in need of a creative pick me up. So I was THRILLED when Summer agreed to let me interview her! You can find Summer on her website and on Twitter. And, of course, be sure to buy her books!

What’s your main creative gig (this can be your day job, your freelance work, or both)? Describe what you do on a normal working day.

My two main gigs right now are freelance illustration & full-time mothering.

What are your creative, just-for-fun (not money or career advancement) hobbies?

Baking, cooking, vintage book browsing

What inspires you? Feel free to be as literal or as figurative as you want.

Right now what inspires me are life stories, comics, being with people I love, acting on ideas, and traveling alone.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Imperfect but True.

How would you describe your creative “process”? Does it involve a lot of staring into space, doodling, or candy eating?

I used to have months and years to prepare, get in the mood, ponder and get the idea going. Now as a mom, I have very specific sets of time. When illustrating, I listen to a A LOT of podcasts. My absolute favorites are The Moth, the New Yorker fiction podcast and the Poetry Foundation podacasts. I find words occupy that busy part of my brain that makes me self conscious. I also drink coffee, and if something is not working, I leave it alone, take a break, stretch, drink water, and come back to it later. Coming back to something later is my new thing and I cannot believe how productive it is.

Summer's desk.

Summer’s desk.

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

I am very proud of my books, but right now I am most proud of publishing 18 one page comic stories in various lit journals this year. It’s been a dream of mine to do it and I had a goal of 20 this year–and I am just two shy of that goal. Woot!

What’s a big creative challenge/failure/embarrassment you’ve learned from?

My book The Artist in the Office is going out of print. That book should not be going out of print. The subject is original and topical and the product is inviting and engaging, What the heck?? This has taught me that as a first time published author about 99% of my expectations were unrealistic. The number one expectation being that if you are a published author, you are golden and don’t have to keep hustling and working to be seen. I am honestly so grateful for this failure because it has woken me up. I know now that as a creator, my job is never to be passive. My job is to always pick my work first, so that others may follow–not the other way around.

Who’s your Creative Lady role model (this can be a person you know, a celebrity, a fictional character, etc.)?

Though I have only met her a couple of times (and she has no idea who I am) I consider the comic artist, writer, thinker Lynda Barry my chief mentor.

What time of day are you most creative? Are you a morning person or a night owl?

Morning morning morning

Being an awesome Creative Lady can be overwhelming. What do you do to relax?

Yoga Yoga Yoga

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

For life: How to be a Woman by Caitlin Moran & Bossypants by Tina Fey (laughter & feminism RULE!). For creativity: Just Kids by Patti Smith, anything by Maira Kalman, and How to be an Explorer of the World by Keri Smith.

What advice would you give to other Creative Ladies who want to do what you do?

You know that it can be done, you just don’t know if it can be done BY YOU. You know how you find out? You just do it. Do it badly, do it afraid. Something will happen. Stop preparing, gathering information, and advice. Your path is yours–find out what’s on it. Also, floss.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

Screw it!

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