Art by Kayla Gutierrez
Art by Kayla Gutierrez
Interview by Jess Petrylak
Who is Megan Schaller?
She’s a pop culture enthusiast whose basic needs are fulfilled by “Tasty” Facebook videos and the affection of her 5-year-old Toshiba laptop. Viewer discretion advised; all characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Nothing she does is intended to be taken seriously, although she often questions if her own world would be more beautiful with less levity.
Your preferred medium is Microsoft Paint. What does that offer you that other mediums cannot?
Primarily, it offers a warm nostalgia, as well as comfort. Growing up as a digital kid, I first fell in love with art through hours and hours of Microsoft Paint play on the glitchy family desktop. There’s something romantic and slightly badass about using a tool so simple and universal. The digital art landscape is an incredible place, but so many brilliant people are discouraged from contributing due to lack of access to expensive digital tools (Photoshop, crazy expensive cameras). Microsoft Paint is my revolt.
Who are other visual artists you look to for inspiration?
I’m infatuated with classic comic book art and comic-inspired artists. Of course, Lichtenstein is a biggie. Nam Jun Paik inspires me with his liberal use of bright, exciting color; Laurie Simmons’s portraits drew me to the idea of portrait work. On an internet scale, I recently was introduced to the art of Polly Nor and fell in love. She’s a superhero, and I love scrolling through her instagram.
How does your art making process usually go?
I mass-produce musician portrait artwork like Model-T’s. When I was younger, I would choose to draw whoever’s music was stuck in my head at the moment. I would open up a google image and practice tracing over it with my stylus to get the shape. Then, I’d transfer that wrist-flick to MS Paint in another tab. As I matured, I got better at eyeing shapes and sizes. I’ve probably drawn 750+ separate portraits using Microsoft Paint, and the practice has gifted me with a strange knack for spatial relationships. I draw portraits when I’m bored during class or half-asleep before bed. The familiarity of the process comforts me during these sporadic times.
How do you choose which colors you are going to use within a piece? How does color help your drawing aesthetic?
The majority of my MS Paint portraits contain the same 5-or-6 pastel colors. I’m not a huge fan of pastels, and greatly prefer moody reds, purples, blues, and blacks, or ridiculously bright neons. However, I wanted to use color and line as a commentary of the current, digital age. Pastel has become its own culture within the tech babies of today, and it’s a palette that young digital kids identify with. I use it as both a satire of and nod to my own universe. These are pastel years.
What is the hardest facial feature to depict with line?
It’s unbelievably difficult to draw eyes with in the line/ minimal-shading style and avoid having them look cheesy. I never draw irises and pupils, and I wish I had a deep, emotional reason as to why I made this artistic choice. In reality, I just don’t want to butcher the pictures.
Have any celebrities interacted with you because of your portraits?
One of the coolest things about our digital parallel universe is the ease of which ordinary “anybodys” can communicate with their favorite artists. The access astounds me, and I’m so grateful to every entertainer who takes time to interact with fans of their art. Some of the I started posting my catalog of silly portraits of musicians as a way for thanking them for the impact that they have made on my life. To know that these portraits have made some of them happy is more than I could ever ask for; the only reason I post anything I make online is to make people with a love and respect for music feel good. About 6 months ago, Ryn Weaver contacted me telling me that she was interested in collaborating on designing her tour merchandise, which was wickedly fun.
What is your first memory working with Microsoft Paint?
I remember trying to recreate scenes from my own life using the paintbucket and mouse. There were a lot of drawings of a little blonde Megan and her cat, although often I just gave up and tried to draw abstract scribbles instead.
What is your go to art making song?
Since the bulk of the art that I make in my casual life is portrait-work of musicians, I often listen to the songs of the musician. For the past few months, I’ve been listening to an awful lot of Empress Of. If I had to choose one song, I’d say Empress Of’s “Woman Is A Word” – or, possibly “Army Dreamers” by Kate Bush. I have a huge crush on Kate Bush.
You have recently been incorporating lyrics within your pieces. How do you decide which lyric represents the artist your depicting?
This is a manifestation of my love of Lichtenstein-esque “comic” art, and I’m glad you noticed! I try to choose a lyric that showcases the brilliance of the artist (which is essentially my selfish way of saying “a lyric that I think is universal or clever”), or a lyric that encompasses the theme that they are trying to portray through their body of work. If an artist is promoting a new project, I’ll try to use words to complement that project.
Do you have a favorite celebrity to depict?
I love drawing Julian Casablancas, a man whose sonic wisdom I respect and admire endlessly. His facial features are very unique, as well – and fun (…and better yet, easy) to draw! I also love to draw Grimes, who I believe is one of the most talented – and beautiful – people to ever grace this planet. Björk, too.
How long does a piece usually take you?
As I said earlier, I crank musician portraits out like Model-T’s. A piece of an artist that I have drawn before will not take me longer than an hour. I can thank the simplicity of line art, for that!
In what way does your art represent you and the message you want to put out into the world?
A while ago, I came to a standstill where I was wholly uncertain in the art (Microsoft Paint portraits of musicians) I was posting online. I felt as if it was meaningless, even though it was fun and comforting for me to draw, and exciting to share. I’ve come back to believing in the original purpose of my art – sharing a love of music with like-hearted people across the world, and bringing joy to people through innocent instagrams online. If I can make one person feel good for even a second, then I am doing something meaningful.
Offline, I have been working on a series of similar “line art”-style drawings of famous paintings of white, able-bodied women (ex. Mona Lisa, Botticelli’s Venus) with PoC, queer, and disabled women. I look forward to continuing to work on and share this project. Through this, I am finding power through art, while recognizing my own privilege as a white, able-bodied young woman.
What is the best advice you have ever received in terms of art/the art making process?
Share art online! The internet is an incredible realm of human beings who never stop communicating, sharing, and exploring. If you put something out there, it will be seen. To me, that’s magic. The power is overwhelming.
What are your future plans for you and your artwork?
My love of digital technology – as well as the realization of the major gender disparity in the field – has inspired me to pursue a career in computer science and engineering. I am excited to bring my artwork – via my half-broken Toshiba laptop – with me as I go off into the world, as that warm constant that has stayed with me since I first played with Microsoft Paint as a little girl. My little hobby has become something so much bigger than myself, and as long as it is a part of me… and my PC computer is running… I will continue to share it with others.
If the computer science thing doesn’t work out, I want to be a professional water bed tester or a high school math textbook model.
Where can we follow you, and purchase your artwork?
My outlet for posting anything and everything is @megandoods on instagram.
Although I’ve dabbled in Society6, I find that RedBubble (http://www.redbubble.com/people/megandoods?ref=account-nav-dropdown) is the easiest and cheapest way for me, personally, to sell artwork.
An anthem for every member of your Girl Gang- listen to our new playlist (preferably loud) below: