Women on Top: Mari Andrew

Otherwise known as the Queen of Instagram Cartoons, Mari Andrew is a D.C.-based writer and artist with a knack for understanding people.

Mari made it a goal to draw every single day. Now, she publishes one of those drawings daily on Instagram, and each depicts the relatable struggles of 20-somethings. She illustrates common issues such as juggling obligations, handling superiors, dealing with exes, and basic millennial insecurity. Through clever cartoons and quips, she reminds people that no one is alone in their sometimes stressful, sometimes heartbreaking, sometimes weird life. 

When did you first get into art?

I got into art as a personal hobby a year ago. I always considered writing to be my primary form of creativity and expression, but illustrating came pretty naturally and evolved quickly. Now I consider myself as much of an illustrator as I do writer, which was totally not within my realm of possibility a year ago!

Have you always worked primarily with watercolors?

Yes! Visual art actually intimidates me a bit, but watercolors are so easy and cheap. I use a really inexpensive travel set and find that it's very calming to paint with them.

Other than the drawings themselves, the interesting thing about your Instagram art is how each one includes a funny, inspiring, or relatable message. Has this always been a facet of your art?

It's evolved over the past year as my audience has grown (I started out just painting for myself as a creative exercise) but I think my writing has always been pretty similar to the art I do now: very personal and confessional. I try to sneak some inspiring messages in there, but I don't want to be too heavy-handed! Whenever I draw something inspiring, I'm really just trying to give myself hope… it can have a ripple effect, which is lovely.

On average, how long does each piece for Instagram take you to create and post?

Each takes about an hour! The idea comes fast and the painting is quick, but thinking about how I'm going to express a certain idea takes a long time. I go through a few drafts to get it right. It's challenging to figure out how to convey an experience or concept in a short and comical way. I'm not a master at it yet!

What’s the most rewarding thing about creating your art?

It's amazing to be told that my work helps people feel less alone. All my favorite art does that for me, so I feel really flattered by that compliment and it motivates me to keep going even when it gets tough or when I'm feeling hard on myself. I'm very sensitive to criticism (mostly self-inflicted!) so I save my favorite comments and emails that keep me going. People are incredibly generous with their words and it means so much to me.

What’s the most difficult?

The hardest part is having time for it! I have a full-time job and a lot of other obligations, and I just don't have as much time as I'd like to be creative. I feel like I'm in a rut right now, and it's because I just don't have the time to explore and play around and switch up my style. I plan to take some time off work for this reason--so I can enjoy making art without a purpose, and see what else I'm capable of creating.

And lastly: If you could have dinner with anyone, living or dead, who would it be and why?

Tilda Swinton! I'm so fascinated by her. I'd ask her everything.