Mari Andrew On The Loop-de-loop, Zig-zagging Journey To Adulthood

When you think Mari Andrew, you probably think ‘amazing Instagram artist, role model, and total friend-crush.’ Now Mari’s adding another title to that list: author. Her first book, Am I There Yet? The Loop-de-loop, Zig-zagging Journey to Adulthood, comes out on March 27th.

Recently, I got to chat with Mari and hear her thoughts on the subway, rejection, and of course, her book. (And yes, I was totally fangirling the entire time).

What’s your favorite thing about New York and why?

Oh my gosh there are so many things that I love about it. I like that you feel like you’re really in history. Your place in the universe is very noticeable here. You can see the ways that it’s changed, it’s not a very old city compared to Europe but it feels like the history of culture and humans and art is so evident here. SO I really feel like I’m a part of something much bigger. It almost feels sort of spiritual. I just feel like I’m really a part of something. And so, you feel really really insignificant, but also really significant. And I really like that. 

Do you have any good subway stories?

I love just in general how whenever I smile at someone on the subway, they always smile back. It’s sort of this kind of game I’ve been playing since I got here. I remember that very early on, one of the first subway rides I took when I got here this woman was looking at my purse which I’m very proud of, it looks like a watermelon, and I just smiled at her and she gave me the biggest smile back and I was like ‘wow, this city’s so friendly!’ I hope to meet the love of my life on the subway. That’s my goal. I think that would be perfect.

photo courtesy of @bymariandrew

Do you have a motto that you live by?

I’m really trying to be more positive and grateful, because I am living a dream life. It’s amazing that I am a full-time artist. This is like .0001% of the population gets to do this, and a lot of people want to, but it is really challenging. I can get caught up in the challenges of it and not take a step back. My motto this year is turn toward the light which is whenever I’m kind of in my dark places in my head. And so it’s like a plant, where I’m just turning toward the light, I’m just trying to be looking at the sunshine and just not thinking about all the garbage that I could be thinking about.

What do you consider to be your biggest strength and why?

I think my biggest strength that at least is really helpful for work is that I have a really good emotional memory. So I remember the way that I felt when something happened to me. Even many many years ago. And I can put myself back in that place and that’s been very helpful for me to draw from because I do write about my life and I’ve been through a lot and I think that if I couldn’t remember how I felt, it would be really hard to express, to process feelings about that time. 

photo courtesy of @bymariandrew

Do you have any mentors either in your personal life or professional journey so far that stand out?

Yeah, I have so many. One really good one, especially for young women, her name is Zoë Foster Blake. She’s an Australian, she’s really really famous in Australia but not in the U.S. at all. She’s a beauty writer, and she’s also written a lot of other books. She wrote a book about breakups, and she writes a lot about being empowered as a single woman, even though now she’s married with two kids. She’s very encouraging of independent women and she’s just kind of this goddess for young, early twenty-something women. I think she just speaks the language of 20-something women who are on their own journey and she’s been really inspiring for me and now she’s a good friend. Everyone should follow her on Instagram she’s great.

What does a typical workday look like for you? If you have one?

Yeah I do, I try to have a very strict weekday schedule because I just can’t be like a bohemian artist, that’s so not my personality type. So in the morning, I always try to wake up between 7 and 7:30, do my Instagram post, write in my journal, write in my gratitude list, make coffee, I’ll just take you through my every move [laughs]. And then I walk over to my co-working space where I work during the day and so it’s sort of like, it feels like going to a legit office and I try to start around 9. And most of my days are pretty boring. The art part is such a tiny tiny percentage of what I do. Most of what I do is answer emails. It’s not very interesting [laughs]. It’s so much sending invoices, and taxes, and yeah, it’s not all like getting inspiration and painting. I wish, I wish, that would be great.

I noticed in the book you included your ‘My Career Path’ illustration, and you mentioned that your writing was rejected 45 times. I’m wondering how you’ve dealt with rejection along your journey so far?

Oh man, not very well [laughs].

It’s hard!

Rejection, it is hard. And you know that it’s not personal but it is personal, like it’s your personal work that is being deemed not good enough and I don’t think you ever really get over that. I’ve been rejected in many ways for a lot of things and I think the thing about writing for me, which I guess also kind of encompasses illustration is that I just really like to do it. And so I’m gonna keep doing it whether I get published or not. That’s how I’ve always felt and so the way that I dealt with it is just doing it like ‘ok, if I’m not going to write for a magazine then I guess I’m going to write for instagram or I’m going to write a blog, some way or another I’m gonna keep doing this’ and it’s a bummer when you get rejected from a larger audience but it doesn’t mean that you have to stop. You should keep going.

photo courtesy of @bymariandrew

You mentioned on your Instagram story yesterday that you had dreamt of writing a book since you were five. Can you tell me more about that?

Yeah I’ve always, always wanted to be a writer. Always. Even if I wanted to do other things as a job, I always wanted to write a book. And I’ve been writing ‘books’ since probably before five. Making my own little books. And I’ve always been a storyteller, like all of my early home videos are of me telling really long stories. And when I was young I wanted so badly to be an author. I loved books so much so the fact that I have one that is going to be out in the world is really beautiful. It’s not what I was anticipating because I never thought that I would be an artist but it’s still a book, so I’m very happy.

How did the idea for this book come about? Was there a specific moment where it came to you?

So I’m 31, I wrote the first essay when I was 22 so I’ve been writing it for a while. I’m an essayist, I love writing essays so it’s not like I had an idea for a book, it’s just a collection of what I’ve been writing since I was in my early 20s.

What do you hope readers will gain from the book?

I guess what I hope anyone gets from any art, which is just an affirmation of their feelings. Just knowing that they’re not alone. I think that knowing you’re not alone creates a lot of space for you to be empowered and really do what you want. I have such a heart for young women in their early 20s because that is a really tough but exciting time of life so I really love the idea of sharing it with them and telling them that it’s gonna be ok from someone who’s survived it.

photo courtesy of @bymariandrew

Now that you’ve accomplished your long-time goal of writing your first book, what’s next? Do you have any plans for the future?

Yeah I do. I love writing books. That’s another thing I learned, I really liked it. I follow a lot of writers on twitter and there’s all these memes about how hard it is to write and how it’s sort of torturous and I just, I don’t identify. That’s my favorite part. I could really do without the Instagram or the editing process, but I like writing. So I like to do it. So I want to keep writing more books and if a first book does well in sales, it means you have a much higher chance of getting to write more so that’s what I’m hoping. But no matter what happens I am writing a second one. And I’m really excited about it. I don’t think it’ll have illustrations this time so something new.

Can you tell me any more about it?

It’s pretty similar to the first one but it’s a little more serious. And maybe a little darker.

Are there any other subjects you plan on writing about? Or do you think you’re going to keep it to personal experience?

I think personal experience is just more naturally the way I write but I’d like to do different themes. I’m really interested in spirituality, I’d like to write more about that. And I think as I get more experience, I’ve sort of got the 20’s covered, like I’ve got searching for a career and friendship and making your own home. I think it’ll be interesting as I get older and if I get married or have kids, what’s that going to be like? I have no idea. So I hope that people will kind of grow with me and then I can keep writing about things that happen to me because I really enjoy it.

photo courtesy of @amazon.com

Author: Richard Robinson

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