A post-apocalyptic short story by Alyssa Campbell
Waking up in my bed has felt strange so many times, especially when I’ve forgotten that is where I was all along. I have fallen into these deep sleeps before, going through my day unaware of what was real and what was just a dream. When I have these awful nightmares, I try to keep them to myself, but this is one I had to share.
No one knew things would turn out this way; everyone was sure she was going to be better than the other candidate, who many had said would be like another Hitler. But they were wrong. Everything changed once she got into office, but no one was paying attention. It was the age of the “selfie;” technology shifted in a new direction, and sooner or later, everyone jumped ship. There were selfie sticks, filters that completely changed your appearance; no one wanted to look like their natural self anymore. Women and men were spending all of their money on makeup, making sure their contour was “lit” and their eyebrows were on “fleek.”
There was a family that changed fashion forever, and soon, young girls were getting full-on plastic surgery to look a specific way, before they even started middle school. Vegans tried to make a difference, they tried to warn people to shop organic and stay away from GMO’s, but soon it didn’t matter, because everything was being labeled organic in the United States, even if it came from human DNA. Unfortunately, other countries fell into the same illusions. No one cared about the good of the planet; no one realized other forces were trying to get through and help us. Earth was constantly going through shifts, things were being revealed across the globe, people were coming together and standing up for what they believed in.
Creatives were making art, music, literature, films, photography, and pornography, to capture these feelings and shifts they were experiencing. The bible described this period as the end of times, and the zombie stories became true, beginning with an app called “Pokemon Go.” People from all generations were playing, meeting up, walking to catch pokemon, staring at their phones. All while she was getting away with murder, a race war was taking place, police were targeting people of color, the government was trying to take away people’s rights to bear arms and enforce martial law. And that was only in America.
People were dying all around the globe because of hate, greed, lust, and vanity. A generation war was also taking place around the world between millennials and everyone else, but mainly the baby boomers. As the earth’s energy continued to shift into a higher vibration, lower energy vibrations began to die out. Celebrities began to drop like wriggling, dying flies. One after another, people began calling them angels, saying they had served their purpose of helping the earth; a cleanse was happening and they couldn’t stay while it happened. One day, the only ones left on earth were the millennials, creatives, and empaths.
They were the only ones who could withstand this new energy, left to bring in a new world. But along with this cleanse, everyone became renewed, meaning they had no knowledge of what happened or who they were. In preparation, a group called the Saeri, who were half alien, half human, were abducted by a group of aliens called the Oir until the cleanse on earth was complete. The Oir explained to the Saeri what was happening and why. They began by informing the Saeri that it had been the Oir all along, sending messages throughout time on Earth.
They told them in order to help guide humans they had to create a story we could interpret, which is where religion came from, but that we began to focus on these things more than our actual experience on life, and the wellbeing of earth. Everything that was happening on earth was affecting the rest of the universe, which is why they had to step in. They explained that the former American presidential candidates were actually evil; they were from a different planet, trying to destroy the earth and create chaos. They wanted to steal the souls of human beings, keeping them trapped in this three-dimensional state of existence. There were celebrities who were angels, and celebrities who were fallen angels, but they were each placed on earth for a purpose, said the Oir.
The celebrities were vessels, communicating messages from other worlds, but humans began to worship them, once again becoming more distracted from the bigger picture. The Saeri asked why they let Earth go on like this for so long, why the Oir hadn’t come sooner. That’s when it was explained how the Saeri came into being.
They were a part of the Oir, but since Saeris were bound in a higher vibration; on earth they wouldn’t be recognized. This is why they were a hybrid, living a human experience. What went wrong? Well, when the Saeri were born they had gotten amnesia, therefore, they had to go through experiences others couldn’t relate to, they constantly felt abandoned, and alone. But they were the prophets; they were created with strong empathy and a flame that burned in them. Their mission was to break down the old ways.
The Oir explained the true form of humans, with the earth in a higher dimension, humans would be able to access parts of their brain they never had before. They’d also be able to communicate through telepathy, they didn’t need to eat anymore, and there was no more hate or greed. There would be no God, the Oir explained. There was indeed a divine intelligence, but it was something that could not be perceived by human intellect. They didn’t want to make that mistake again, and humans would be able to understand more about this intelligence, because they would all feel a connection.
People would be encouraged to continue to build this connection with the divine through deep meditation and eating a sacred mushroom. This would be the only time humans would need to eat. These mushrooms would constantly be supplied as a gift from the divine, so people wouldn’t have to worry about them ever running out. They would have an instant gateway; it would be there and they would realize their soul is eternal. These new times were what were once described as heaven on earth.
There would be no more chaos and corruption. In the old world people weren’t in control of their desires; they weren’t taught to train their instincts, and therefore, they thought it was natural. In fact, it was the furthest thing from natural, and it was only a small part of the human experience, but not where other life was, in other worlds. This is why in the past it was considered a sin to lust; the Saeri would teach the humans how to be in control of their desires, how to feel light. After eating the mushroom and meeting with the higher intelligence, humans would feel the highest form of pleasure and would no longer desire pleasure from their physical bodies.
Everyone would have an understanding that there was more to life, and there would be no promise of life in a kingdom after death. But there would be promise of fulfillment and purpose. The Oir also explained that fate was very real, and so was free will. Free will was given to all on earth, to see if humans would be able to figure things out as a collective; or if they would continue to remain asleep and let the world around them fall apart. Because of their failure, the Oir knew that humans needed a better understanding of how both free will and fate are necessary to the human experience. The divine intelligence knows no good or bad, but it was created to help teach humans right from wrong.
The Saeri would also bring new technology to earth and humans would no longer work as slaves to a system that kept them blinded from their true purpose. There were different beings in the universe that wanted to experience life on Earth. They wanted to show themselves, but they were afraid. Now they would able to make their way onto to the planet, Earth would become a school for all lives in the universe. The goal would be to find ways to keep a supermassive black hole from swallowing the Earth. In order to do this, they would all need to work together and humans would be able to travel to different planets whenever they wanted.
There was a lot that needed to be explained, and the Saeri were very patient; they too were upgraded, so they couldn’t feel any anger, even know they had just found out everything that had ever known was a lie. The Oir also told the Saeri the truth of the soul. That there was another half to each soul, living in a different realm. After this new transition was complete on earth, souls would be allowed to finally come together as one on earth, after this, no one would ever need to eat a magic mushroom, because they would become immortal. Once immortal, they would be able to visit the divine intelligence by simply hoping for it to happen. They would be able to manifest things like magic.
Earth would become like it had never been. Before the Oir let the Saeri go back to earth to begin their new life, they told them they were sorry. They knew a lot had to be done in order to bring in change, but “it was all a part of the process,” they said. In the past they had to respect people’s free will and couldn’t communicate at all, and it wasn’t until they created the Saeri that they were able to find a way to help earth. They told the Saeri not be upset with the divine intelligence, but Saeri had no anger in them at all. They felt at ease knowing they hadn’t been crazy this entire time: they were actually the ones who were sane all along.
Playlist by Jess Petrylak
The best way to listen to this playlist? Grab your diary from high-school, click on this playlist, and re-live your glory days of angst and raging hormones.
Interview by Kayla Gutierrez
Sucker: Who is Louise Chantal?
Louise Chantal: I’m a singer, songwriter, creative director, and entrepreneur from London, living in the NYC area.
Sucker: Who or what are some of your musical inspirations?
LC: I’m inspired by so many people in different genres for different reasons. One person that inspired me vocally to grow and push myself, and accomplish as much as I can is Whitney Houston. Beyonce also continues to inspire me as an outstanding boss of her brand and talent as well. Her work ethic is unmatched in my eyes and I would like to strive to be the same way with an uncompromising devotion to my craft.
Sucker: What is your creative process?
LC: Each song has a very different story. Some of the songs on my project, I wrote without hearing instrumentation first and other songs I wrote to instrumentation. The biggest evolution in my creative process from the time I started writing and recording my EP to now is that I am much more involved in the musical production. I really wasn’t an executive producer outside of funding my project when I first began recording songs, but by the end of the project I was heavily involved in music production, not just the songwriting, vocal production, and arrangements of the voice. A big portion of that growth I think I can credit to working with producers that were far more experienced in the industry than me. Syience, who executive produced the project with me, always encouraged me to think and speak for myself. Once I began doing that wholeheartedly, I gained a lot more confidence in myself.
Sucker: What kind of messages do you want to convey through your music?
LC: I would like to convey honest messages. Many of my songs promote feminism and anti-patriarchal concepts because that’s who I am, but then I also have a few songs in which I’m hopeless romantic. All of the emotions I have written about are things that I’ve experienced and battled with. I have experienced men who made me feel like shit, made me feel absolutely horrible about myself, and it’s bigger than intimacy or relationships for me, it goes way back to my childhood up to now and witnessing how society isn’t structured to uplift or celebrate the woman of color. And in this album I’m talking about how I had to find myself, and find out what I loved about me, and why I was special, and why I didn’t need a man to define my worth. My life stories I haven’t share in the Welcome to Aranbi EP. I shared stories of the many women in me.
The emotions are really what I care about. Cry, cry, cry but then you have to move the fuck on. That’s my music. There’s a lot of sadness behind it, I feel that’s the core. There’s other happier songs, but for the most part I wrote about men that didn’t want me to know my worth or think that I was smart enough to be excellent, outstanding, or powerful alone. It was more to their advantage and ego to make me feel small. In this project, I said fuck that.
Sucker: At what age did you start singing?
LC: I was 12 years old, a point in my life where the world I thought I belonged to shifted drastically. I went from a very diverse public school to an all white private school. The way I viewed myself and my value flipped completely. But in the midst of all the sadness that came that year, I fought for a music career, and joined a production company. I wrote and recorded two EP’s, and a mixtape with them, and we created really great things. Years later I’m here, with my own company, having fun and doing it my way.
Sucker: Where do you see yourself in five years?
LC: I get that question quite a bit. Hopefully in five years – I’ve done three albums. If it doesn’t work out that way, it’s okay. But hopefully, I’ve done a few albums and I’ve become the creative director of a fashion brand. Maybe I’ll have had a role in a move or guest starred in a TV show. Hopefully my charity has expanded its outreach globally. That would be most amazing. And I’ve toured the world a few times.
Sucker: How do you want your fans to perceive you?
LC: As a business woman that is passionate about what I do. I love my supporters because they understand that about me. They understand that I’m here to change the world through art. I want them to know that I have an uncompromising attitude and devotion when it comes to my work. There is a lot of negative stereotypes about women in the industry, obviously bred by misogyny. They want to promote these messages that women aren’t intelligent enough, aren’t powerful enough to be successful without selling their bodies to a man in power. I hate that shit. I want my fans to know that I’m in control of my shit. No one in the ‘Put Your Money Where Your Mouth Is’ music video told me, ‘Oh I want you to wear this or I want you to pretend to be that’, everything you see in my content is what I wanted. I’m very much involved, I’m very much in control. There is no one telling me what to do and I’m proud of that and I think it’s important that my supporters know this isn’t been repackaged by a man.
In the PYMWMYI music video I made some people uncomfortable. Uncomfortable to the point where they felt the need to write in the comments ‘oh I wonder who she fucked to get to the top,’ or ‘go back to the strip club’ or ‘slut slut slut.’ If a man puts 100 strippers in his music video, he’s the man. He’s a God. It’s never going to be oh I wonder how many women he had sex with to get where he is because they have all the power and they keep it in their circle. But if embrace my sexuality or look a little too confident in my sex appeal, I get 3,000 comments reducing me down to object. Stripper or no stripper, I’m made out to be an object. I’ll take the backlash in a heartbeat and just do what the fuck I want to do. That’s who I am. That’s who I am going to remain throughout my career, a woman that is unapologetic and willing to make people uncomfortable.
Sucker: How have you ever experienced sexism first-hand? What changes need to happen to end sexism?
LC: I don’t know how I could be alive in this world as a woman as color, and not have experienced sexism. I could rant on and on about how people undermine on my capabilities or what I can achieve because I’m a woman. But at this point for me it’s about changing the program and what is promoted through the media. The idea that women have to have sex with men in order to achieve career success. The messages that say being in control as woman isn’t sexy. The messages that are promoted through the media must change.
Sucker: Is there anyone you want to collaborate with?
LC: Princess Nokia, I really like her a lot, and I really like what she has stands for in and outside of her music; the messages she promotes. Her entire life story is really inspirational. I’d also like to work with Drake one day.
Sucker: Do you believe personal relationships go with professional business?
LC: Business is always first priority for me, but I tend to become very close to the people I work with continuously. Some of my best friends are people I work with regularly. For that reason I’ve learned about the importance of knowing and respecting boundaries. I once had a friendship in past that became too multi-dimensional. There were no boundaries or moments alone, too much became intertwined. I learned a lot from that relationship and the outcome was sad. But with time and experience I’ve learned how to navigate my business life and my personal life and how to always keep them separate to a certain extent.
Sucker: Many artists claim that motherhood is not a good combination with their life’s work, do you see yourself being maternal in the near future along with balancing your career or solely dedicated to the music?
LC: I’m so in love with me and what I do professionally. All of my siblings have kids. I have so much work I have to get done, and I don’t think a kid would make that any easier for me due to first hand experience babysitting. You need time to be a parent, I don’t have the time or wisdom at this stage in my life to become one for sure.
Sucker: Who has been the most supportive to you through your journey as an artist?
LC: Probably my dad, I’ll give my dad that one.
Sucker: Is there more in life you want to accomplish than music?
LC: Absolutely. I already see myself and my brand as being bigger than music. I want to change the world and I think it will take multiple mediums in order for me to change how kids learn, how the world thinks and I’ll start with music, but I will definitely be branching out. I have a passion for business, branding and market. , I feel there’s so many ways for me to grow as mogul, as an entrepreneur. I love music, but I will definitely be taking advantage of every opportunity to do so much more.
Sucker: With growing movements such as Black Lives Matter, will fans see you spreading activism, will it be in your music?
LC: I definitely feel as though I am an activist through my music and my words, but I am planning to really take things to the next level by launching the Aranbi Foundation in November. At this point in my life, actions are really speaking even louder than words for me and that’s why I’ve begun taking initiatives to become active in the inner city communities that are being targeted the most by a flawed criminal justice system.
Sucker: What is music to you?
LC: Music is the one place where I can say whatever the fuck I want. I can just say what I feel, and I can just cry on a song, and I speak my mind with no dialogue, and no conversation, just me and the world that I created in pain and isolation. Aranbi is me in my head.
Sucker: What is one place you know for certain that you can go for peace and quiet?
LC: My dad’s place. He’s so calm, relaxed, and open minded. I love that about him. I feel so loved in the presence of my father, and enjoy spending all of my time with him. Another place I love going is to the beach.
Sucker: What advice to you have for young aspiring artists?
LC: Don’t underestimate your value, don’t allow anyone other than you to determine what you can or cannot do. Don’t underestimate your ability to think for yourself. Finding yourself and then believing in who you are is key.
Inside Sucker Magazine’s Staff Rooms All Over The World + Personal Playlists
Words by Yvonne Villasenor
“You can make whatever you want when you’re alone in your room.” – Kathleen Hanna
…Although some would be surprised to discover I am introverted, it is no secret that I enjoy solitude and need a place to recharge after busy days that are often filled with a number of social interactions and anticipation to go home. That place is known as my room…
Madison Killian – Editor in Chief & Founder of Sucker Magazine
…This is where the magic happens.
And by magic, I mean scribbling down words until I hit writer’s block, watching Buzzfeed videos or science/philosophy/paranormal/conspiracy Youtube channels, adding clothes I can’t afford into my shopping cart, singing along to my favorite jams and of course, swooning over animals on the internet….
Jenn Endless – Sucker Staffer
Kayla Gutierrez – Sucker Staffer
…In a loud, chaotic world, I find peace within these four walls. Never “peace and quiet” though – there is not a moment in time when I’m in my room and not listening to music with the exception of sleeping. Even still, I have to use my noise machine in order to fall asleep…
Jess Petrylak – Art Editor
…In my room, I have different components that keep me relaxed: my laptop, music via Spotify or record player, books, candles, plants and flowers. I wish I could say my cats too, but most of time, they wake me up with their fighting or try to eat my plants. One thing I especially cherish is the very thing my cats are invading in the picture above. For someone who’s only 4’11, I constantly hog the bed and absolutely love being able to wake up sideways, diagonally, upside down…you name it. I also have a huge window to the right of my bed that allows me to get some fresh air and natural sunlight in my room, which is refreshing. To the left of my shelves, I have built in storage space that has pictures, stuffed animals, more books and candles, as well as miscellaneous items I should probably throw away but won’t…
Yvonne Villasenor – Sucker Staffer
Tracie Wilkerson – Sucker Staffer
Interview by Jess Petrylak
I MET TREVON LAST SPRING AT A BERNIE SANDERS RALLY IN THE BRONX; IT WAS A VERY QUICK INTERACTION, HE HAD ASKED MY BOYFRIEND IF HE COULD TAKE A PORTRAIT OF HIM IN THE CROWD. THIS WAS A VERY DEFINITIVE MOMENT FOR ME AS A PERSON, AND AN ARTIST. I WAS VERY INSPIRED BY TREVON’S FEARLESSNESS, GRACEFULLY MARCHING THROUGH THE CROWD ASKING STRANGERS FOR THEIR PORTRAITS, WHICH I COULD ONLY IMAGINE WAS A DIFFICULT TASK IN ITSELF; I WAS ALSO WARMED BY THE FACT THAT HE SAW SOMETHING SPECIAL AND BEAUTIFUL IN PEOPLE HE DIDN’T KNOW. I AM HONORED TO HAVE INTERVIEWED AND SUPPORT SOMEONE WHO HAD SHOWN ME SUCH CONFIDENCE IN THEIR ARTISTRY. THANK YOU TREVON!
SUCKER: Who is Black Blonde Images?
BLACKBLONDEIMAGES: My name is Trevon Blondet, I was born and raised and educated in the Bronx. And BlackBlondeImages is the name of the gallery on Instagram where I share my photographs and my message.
SUCKER: What was your first experience with a camera? Did your artistic career start with photography?
BBI: My first experience with a camera is when dad always took photos and I always play with the film container. He had tons of slides. I was the kid who used to bring my disposable camera, and photograph class trips. I took 3 credits of photography in undergrad as an elective. That wasn’t enough to be fluent in the dark room. I few years ago I bought my first digital camera. A Canon Rebel. I was off and running. As a kid, I was always interested in the music.
SUCKER: Almost all of your images are monochromatic, what is the reasoning behind this? How do you decide if a photograph should be in color or black and white?
BBI: The first exhibits I went to that left an impact on me, most of the photographs were black and white. Mainly those photographers were too poor to spend the extra money to buy and process color film. When I started to figure out what subject matter I wanted to capture, I stripped away the colors to focus on the message. If there is something very dynamic about the color in the photo I will leave it in color. Usually I convert it to monochrome to my liking. I mainly shoot street photography, sports, concerts and portrait not in that order.
SUCKER: Who are some of your favorite visual artists?
BBI: That’s a tough question…I’ve meet a lot of muralist and painters in recent years and I’ve become friends of a few of them, So my favorite visual artists are my friends.
SUCKER: How did you transition from taking photographs to making a career out of it?
BBI: I still have a 9 – 5, but I starting taking my camera every where and I began to hone my craft. Once I joined the Bronx Photo League, my photography got better exponentially. Being around a group of people who genuinely want to see you become a better shooter; they nurtured the environment that different types of photographers where you get inspired. The BPL forced me to become better at my craft all around. It made me more aware about my community. That was showcased at Photoville with the Bronx Documentary Center container, where we highlighted a 2 mile stretch on Jerome Ave. in the Bronx. Photo book: Jerome Avenue Workers Project. From that work, I got published in the NYTimes and Metro News. I have had a few assignments for the Riverdale Press, Bronx Times and Crain’s 5Boros. It’s a start for other projects coming up.
SUCKER: What is the most challenging thing about working with an urban landscape and portraiture photography? What’s the easiest?
BBI: I guess the tough part is approaching people and asking someone to take your portrait. It’s also it’s challenging being rejected. I doesn’t bother me too much, but at first I would completely shut down and stop taking pictures for the day. The easiest part is when people walk up to you and ask for a picture. Some people want their story told and picture taking.
SUCKER: What kind of camera(s) and editing software do you use?
BBI: I have a: Canon 60D w/ Tamron Lens 24mm-70mm, canon telephoto lens 70mm-200mm, and canon 50mm, Fuji X-Pro 1 35mm, and Canonet QL17RF 35mm (film camera). Lightroom software, Snapseed (Google based app)
SUCKER: What is your go-to art making song?
BBI: The music really depends on my mood. There was a period time when I only listened to jazz while I was shooting because I gave me peace to let my mind wander a bit and see things differently.
SUCKER: Your work gives narrative behind the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement, and coincides with living in the Bronx. What does your process look like in terms of your theme? Has it changed at all over the years?
BBI: I started to photograph the Bronx; and her residents and neighborhoods and the culture that lives there. When Black Lives Matter movement kicked off I felt I had to use my images to show, individually, each person matters. I started to finding people and started using the #TheyMatter, or her or she matter. (I didn’t create the #) I take portraits of men, women, transgender, LGBTQ, kids, or senior citizens because they all matter. I went to a few Black Lives Matter movement events in the Bronx, but most of the marches and rallies are in Manhattan and Brooklyn.
SUCKER: Did you get a higher education in art? How did this decision help you?
BBI: I graduated with a Fine Arts – Communication Degree, but I wouldn’t call myself a Art Major. I learned most everything I know from the Bronx Documentary Center and that was the best decision I ever made.
SUCKER: Have you had any bad experiences when asking strangers to take their photograph? Any good experiences?
BBI: When I actively shooting the “NO” was the worse thing. No one has every threatened me or anything. If they agree to take a portrait, I consider a gift and it always pleasant to receive a gift. Also, it’s nice when people recognized the person if I post it to Instagram. That’s why I photograph the Bronx.
SUCKER: Why is it important in the 21st century to be active online as an artist?
BBI: Photography provides immediacy depending on year gear. It tells you a whole without words, or a few photos with poignant text is like a novel. Photography can sell the recent trends of fashion. Everything is more visual these days and with a camera you tell a story and upload it within seconds.
SUCKER: What is the best advice you could give to aspiring young photographers?
BBI: It’s import to keep up with what everyone one is doing; it should spark ideas. I think also finding mentors and mentees is important to be active online. Criticisms can be complementary, and online you can get some good constructive criticisms.
SUCKER: What are your plans for your future art and future self?
BBI: I will continue to get better as a photojournalist and try to show the Bronx in a positive light.
SUCKER: Where can we buy your art and contact you?
BBI: I have a friend working on my website it should be complete in October, but you can DM me on Instagram (@BLACKBLONDEIMAGES) and we’ll figure it out from there. I have 8 x 10’s and 11 x 14’s prints of my favorite photographs.
Words and Photos by Kayla Gutierrez
Attending the AfroPunk Festival was beyond anything I could’ve dreamed. On my way to the venue, I befriended three women at the bus stop, who were also attending the festival. I tagged along with them, and they were very kind to me.
I felt right at home, it felt it was meant for me to come here. I said to myself, “These are my people.” I befriended, and socialized with a few people during the journey to AfroPunk, and during the festival.
Here are the photos I had the privilege of taking at AfroPunk Fest:
The entrance of the festival
The Joyful Trio
The Singer and The Filmmaker
The Bright Star
The Sweet Pact
“What Makes You A Crafty Betch?”
Kettle Brand, Art Hoe Collective, Girl Mob, Loud Speaker, Bitch Craft
Bitch Craft: For Traditional African Tribal Facial Art
Where Artists Come To Roam
I wasn’t able to get everybody’s names, the names given to these photos were created names by me, names I created due to my interpretation, my social interactions, and observations of the people I snapped pictures of.
The festival was a blast, and unfortunately for me, I wasn’t able to stay longer or go to the festival on the next day. The event was for two days, and I want to go back. I vow to go to AfroPunk annually till the day I die. I met new friends, had a blast, and got to see some great music. I thank, on behalf of Sucker Magazine, the people of Afropunk for this amazing experience and opportunity.
Art by Kayla Gutierrez
Interview by Jess Petrylak
Beth Murphy Morrison
SUCKER: Who is Beth Murphy Morrison?
BETH MURPHY MORRISON: I’m a seventeen year old artist and student from Northern Ireland. I like to create colourful pieces exploring the theme of body positivity, self love and the connection between ourselves and the beauty that is found in nature in my art as I find it’s a good way to celebrate self expression.
SUCKER: What is your preferred medium(s) to work with?
BMM: If I had to choose a favourite media it would definitely be a tie between watercolour and gouache. I love the freedom of expression I have when I’m working with watercolour, as in my experience even the mistakes that I inevitably make while painting with it serve only to add character and beauty to the piece, forcing me to step outside of my plans and assess how I can improve. However, I also adore and the strength of colour and versatility of gouache. It’s incredibly useful for an art style like mine, due to the thick consistency that lends itself to heavy linework.
Beth Murphy Morrison
SUCKER: Reminiscent to Art Nouveau paintings/illustrations, you are influenced a lot by naturalistic elements, such as plants/flowers, crystals and the female form. Modernizing this classic style, you mainly work with imagery of women of all shapes/colors and LGBTQ themes. What do you hope your work illustrates to the world?
BMM: My main hope with my work has always been to celebrate the parts of us that are too often looked down upon or ignored by our peers, ourselves and the media, and to improve the representation of different bodies, sexualities, genders and ethnicities within art. While I’m heavily inspired by beautiful, stylistic Art Nouveau movement, I don’t see a whole lot of variety in what is shown to be beautiful. I am inspired by stomach rolls and stretch marks and acne and I have always wanted women to be able to look at the people I create and see themselves, their sisters, and their mothers in them. Every time somebody tells me that I have helped them feel more at home in their skin I feel like I have achieved a huge goal. I enjoy drawing the women among flowers and other natural, organic elements because I can show the similarities between our bodies patterns and those we find in the natural world. A woman with stretch marks beside flowers with huge veins, a woman with acne compared to a geode and crystals, a woman with body hair surrounded by cacti. It makes the person viewing them perceive what is usually shown to be a flaw as a natural and necessary part of the art. I hope my art illustrates that every single part of us is natural and beautiful and should be celebrated rather than hidden or changed.
SUCKER: What is your first experience with art? How do believe you have grown overall as an artist?
BMM: The first memory I have of anything art related is my mother explaining a Picasso painting to me. I come from an incredibly artistic family, with my grandfather, mother and sister all being very artistically talented, so art has always been part of my life. I began drawing when I first learned to hold a pencil and the nurturing and encouragement I received at such a young age is almost definitely the reason I continued with it. Despite this, I would say that I have only began to grow within the last two to three years. While I always had a talent for art, I rarely worked on my techniques and style until I was forced to when I took GCSE art and actually tried to step outside of my comfort zone and develop a new and more interesting style. I had previously fallen into a rut in which I only drew photo-realistic pencil drawings, which, for me personally, didn’t feel rewarding or expressive. Working with more knowledge of artists and mediums definitely helped me grow and it’s something I’d recommend every young artist explore.
Beth Murphy Morrison
SUCKER: What is your go-to art making song(s)?
BMM: I’m a huge fan of musical theatre, so i always keep a playlist on my phone with a mixture of my favourite soundtracks which I stick on and sing along with as I work. At the minute I like to listen to Hamilton, Rocky Horror and Les Miserables. if I’m not in that sort of mood though I find artists like Hozier and Fleetwood Mac put me at ease while I work.
SUCKER: Heavy contrast is part of your stylistic approach to creating art, in your experience does overworking a piece ruin it?
BMM: For me, it definitely does. Often times simplicity is the best route to go down if you’re uncertain. I can’t count the amount of times I’ve been forced to scrap one of my pieces after I let myself get carried away and either destroyed the paper I was using or overcrowded the painting itself. It’s never a pleasant feeling, and even when the piece is salvageable, it won’t feel the same way my other, more successful attempts do.
SUCKER: What physical and emotional environment is the best for you to work in?
BMM: I prefer to work alone most of the time due to the fact that I’m ridiculously easy to distract, and when I’m in other people’s company I tend to get sucked into speaking to them rather than being focused entirely on whatever I’m working on. I also tend to work best in a positive mood, because with the style of work I do I am always focused on portraying positivity and happiness. . When I work in a bad mood I find that that will affect my colour schemes and the general feeling of the piece, and I will likely be less happy with the end result.
Physically I’m not too fussy. As long as I am somewhere comfortable I can generally make it work. A lot of the time I paint sitting cross legged on my bed, leaning on whatever hard surface I can find. It’s unfortunately not the most professional set up, but hopefully I’ll actually get myself a desk soon.
SUCKER: What is something you absolutely would not do within your artwork?
BMM: There aren’t a whole lot of boundaries I have in terms of subject matter, however If I felt that something I had created had the capacity to be harmful to someone, for instance, by promoting stereotypes, being culturally insensitive or by romanticising eating disorders, self harm or substance abuse I would immediately get rid of it. Other than that, I’m open to exploring a range of different themes within my work.
Beth Murphy Morrison
SUCKER: Do you experiment with other forms of art other than illustration?
BMM: I have experimented in the past with different art forms, such as sculpting and digital art, however I found that none of them suited me as well as illustration does, as I enjoy the process of painting and sketching. Although I would really like to gain more experience with different art forms as I believe it’s incredibly important for growth, and I would absolutely like to try to improve my skills in a range of areas in the future.
SUCKER: What does your art making process look like? How long does it usually take to create a piece?
BMM: Usually when I’m working I like to start with a sketch or clean linework and then begin to layer. My process usually adapts to work with whatever media I am using at the time but I generally enjoy working in segments and will prefer to focus on one part of the piece at a time to make sure it gets the right amount of attention. More often than not, I start at the face and work outward, because that’s the part I enjoy most. When working with fast drying paint, which I usually do, I mix my colours as I go to avoid them drying out as I work. The amount of time spent on a piece for me varies, and can take anywhere from 4 hours to 70 hours, depending on the size of the painting and what I’m using to make it, but if it is as small as A4 I can usually finish it in around four or five hours.
SUCKER: Your work involves very vibrant, saturated colors; How do you make color decisions? Does color transcend the meaning behind your work?
BMM: I wouldn’t say I use colour to display meaning, but I do use it to portray moods at times and I find that the colour decisions I make change as I get a feel of the “personality” the subject I’m painting displays. I like to choose bright colours if I want the piece to show someone powerful or joyful and I like to use duller colours or purples to show someone peaceful and calm. People tend to associate different colours with different emotions, like yellow with happy or angry with red, so playing with these ideas can be good when displaying emotion in art.
Beth Murphy Morrison
SUCKER: What is your ultimate goal involving the arts?
BMM: Ultimately, I would love to get into tattoo art and continue to sell commissions. I think that the stylistic approach I like to take with my pieces would transfer well into tattoos due to my love of linework, and, like all artists, I would also hope that at some point in my career I would be able to have my work displayed in galleries. In the more immediate future I would like to attend university to study Fine Art.
SUCKER: Who are your biggest inspirations within the visual arts world?
BMM: I’m really inspired by artists such as Frida Kahlo, Klimt, Alphonse Mucha and Egon Schiele, because they are all artists who explore a somewhat surreal style of portraiture which has heavily influenced my own work. Frida Kahlo’s unapologetic self expression and the celebration of her features has always played a part in my exploration of self love, and the unique body types both Klimt and Schiele portray is somewhat mirrored in many of my drawings. I’ve always felt very fond of Mucha’s work because body types he portrays look realistic and attainable, and I admire and the classic elegance that all of the women in his work seem to possess.
Beth Murphy Morrison
SUCKER: You have recently painted on the back of your jean jacket, could you see yourself venturing into creating more custom made clothing pieces?
BMM: Definitely! I’ve already started on a second jacket and I have plans to buy more denim clothing in bulk and begin to make as many as possible to sell at markets, as well as creating custom clothing on request. It’s an incredibly fun way for me to create something new that can actually be used and it’s something a lot of people have expressed an interest in, so in the near future, I will hopefully be making a ton of new items.
Beth Murphy Morrison
SUCKER: Why is it important as a contemporary artist, to share your work online?
BMM: I think that if you are trying to gain success as a contemporary artist you would have to be absolutely crazy not to have some sort of online presence, whether that be a promotional page on Facebook, an Etsy store or even an Instagram. The internet, and social media in particular, are incredibly powerful tools for creating a name for yourself and spreading awareness of your work outside of your own small bubble of acquaintances. The truth of the matter is that the internet is incredibly important for marketing yourself and getting your name out there for people to come across, and your chances of success are going to be much higher with that support behind you.
SUCKER: What is the best advice you had received as an artist?
BMM: Probably that you should listen constructive criticism, because as an artist it’s really important that you listen to the advice and tips that you are given by other artists or the people buying your work. While it may be difficult to acknowledge that you don’t always know best and that not everything you create will please everyone, taking constructive criticism on board will help you grow a lot faster and improve your work drastically. This doesn’t mean you always have to agree with the criticism, but acknowledging it and respecting different perspectives of your work can be really helpful.
SUCKER: Your linework is graphic, but hardly linear. What do soft, curved lines do for your work, contrasted with the graphic highlights and shadows?
BMM: I mainly use softer, more curved lines because of the movement and the easy flow they give the piece. I find that harsher, more linear lines can at times make the subject seem stiff and rigid, which is never an effect I’m fond of in my own work, or else they can make the entire piece slightly too harsh when coupled with the highlights and block colours I enjoy using. I find that when the soft linework is coupled with the more graphic elements of the piece it finishes the painting and it works as a whole, rather than overtaking other details and becoming the main focus.
Beth Murphy Morrison
SUCKER: What is next for your future art and future self?
BMM: In terms of my future art, I’d really like to further refine my current art style, while also experimenting with new subject matter and art forms to round out my abilities. I also want to begin to sell prints as well as commissions and will be doing so as soon as possible.Because I’m currently in my final year of high school, my future self for the time being will be focusing on getting into a good university and maintaining a balance of school and art, and will be selling custom clothing and commissions when she has the time, and will hopefully be creating an online store as soon as possible.
SUCKER: Where can we contact you, follow you and buy your art?
BMM: Currently my only public social media is Instagram, and you can find me and contact me there @fairyhands, and while I don’t have an online shop at the minute, I will be creating one in the near future!
Beth Murphy Morrison
Photos by Sam Troilo
Check out more of Sam’s work on her website.