Creative Ladies: MariNaomi


MariNaomi is a writer/artist whose work has been featured in approximately one million places, including The Rumpus. She was nice enough to take time out of her busy schedule to talk to me about her work process, her inspirations, and her advice to other creative ladies. You can find MariNaomi all over the internet…on her website, Twitter, Tumblr, Instagram, and Facebook. You can also join her mailing list here.

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.

I make comics. Lately I’ve been spending my days thumb-nailing a young-adult graphic novel and setting up promotions for my next book, Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories, which comes out in the fall with 2D Cloud. I’ve been getting all my ducks in a row with logistics (like scheduling book tours) and odds and ends (like cover artwork, indicia, etc.).

A sneak peek into MariNaomi's next book, Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories

A sneak peek into MariNaomi’s next book, Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories

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

I love photography and singing alone in my car. Comics used to be my just-for-fun hobby, and I kind of miss those days.

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

Really good writing, an innovative piece of artwork, the success of my friends, getting a good review, meeting people who like my comics, meeting my heroes.

In three words, describe your creative aesthetic/viewpoint.

Careful black brushstrokes

A panel from Dragon's Breath and Other True Stories

A panel from Dragon’s Breath and Other True Stories

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

I take frequent breaks to rest my fingers and my brain, usually by checking social media sites, exercising, or wrestling with my dogs and cats. If I don’t, I fear my drawing hand will turn into an arthritic little nub. When I dive truly into The Zone, I stop feeling things like hunger, fatigue and pain. I forget to pee.
I used to snack on my breaks, but I stopped doing that when my metabolism slowed down. Thanks a lot, middle age!

What creative accomplishment are you most proud of?

My book, Kiss & Tell: A Romantic Resume, Ages 0 to 22. It’s not perfect, but I put more work into creating, publishing and promoting it than any other thing in my life. I’m also very proud of my next two books, but I don’t want to call them “accomplishments” just yet, as they haven’t seen the light of day.
Artistically, I’m always the most proud of the very last thing I did. It’s a survival tactic that I think many artists have, this delusion. But I would be silly saying the “best thing I ever did” was a review of a book or a cluster of thumbnails. And after I did my next thing, my mind would change and that thing I said before would no longer be the best.

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

I’m not proud of some of my earlier work. A few years ago, I got contacted by the Library of Congress, which somehow got hold of one of my very first self-published zines, from back in the nineties. They wanted to verify some things. I asked if he might quietly dispose of the evidence, but alas, he would not.
But as long as I’m doing creative work and (hopefully) strengthening my talents, I’ve got to accept that I’ll constantly be embarrassed by looking back at the old work. I have a hard time reading Kiss & Tell, for example. Even though I’m proud of it, I’ve grown so much since it came out, as an artist and a storyteller. If I’m lucky, five or ten years down the line I’ll feel the same way about the work I’m doing now.

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

My sister is super inspiring. She’s a physical therapist, Bhangra dancer, painter and marathon runner. Also, Yoko Ono. Also also, about a hundred lady cartoonists. Women who make comics are some of my favorite people in the world.

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

Before I met my husband I’d wake up in the afternoon, do errands and socialize during the day, then get to work once the sun went down, not stopping until the sky started getting light. But Gary changed all that with his morning-time ways. Nowadays I wake up early, but I don’t really get going until after lunchtime. Between 1 and 7 p.m. are my peak hours, although I will work before and after those times.

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

I have a menagerie of animals who alternately relax and confound me. Also, wine with dinner is very helpful. And sex. Oh, and drawing comics!

What books would you recommend to other Creative Ladies?

The Diary of a Teenage Girl by Phoebe Gloeckner
The You’ll Never Know trilogy by Carol Tyler
Never Forgets by Yumi Sakugawa
My Dirty Dumb Eyes by Lisa Hanawalt
One Hundred Demons by Lynda Barry

Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed
Valencia by Michelle Tea
Nochita by Dia Felix
Rat Girl by Kristin Hersch

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

Practice a lot. Join a figure drawing class. Read as much as you can—pick apart your favorite stories and think about why they were so good. Pick apart the bad stuff too. Be patient. Understand that getting good takes time, and getting recognized takes even more time. Get involved in your community—meet people who do what you do so you can support each other through happy times and rough times. Don’t dawdle. Get to it.

What’s your Creative Lady motto?

I’ve never thought of a motto! But a good rule to live by is avoid professional jealousy, do your best to help others, and be happy for your friends. There’s room enough for everyone in Creativity Land.

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