While at San Diego Comic-Con, I was able to attend a cool event at the Chuck Jones Gallery co-hosted by GirlsDrawinGirls and 6-Point Harness (6PH). Their art was featured during a special “What’s Up Doc?”, a Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibit Service museum exhibit. After the event, I was able to interview Melody Severns, one of the co-creators of GirlsDrawinGirls.Print used at the Chuck Jones event with Pepe Le Pew and Gigi “Aroma Therapy” by Jennifer Llewellyn
So what exactly is GirlsDrawinGirls?
GirlsDrawinGirls is an international group of around 200 women artists who draw pin up art to showcase the vast amount of female talent working professionally in the animation, film, comics, and illustration industry. We draw pin up art as a way to give our take on femininity and sexuality from a woman’s point of view. Together we have inspired each other, given each other positive and constructive feedback, and promoted a strong support system of women working in the same field. Since the birth of the group, we have been featured in Italian Vogue, did an art show at Galerie Arludik in Paris, France, and worked with the Chuck Jones Gallery for a show during the 2014 San Diego Comic Con.
How did it get started?
GirlsDrawinGirls started as the brainchild of me and my friend, Anne Walker Farrell as a way to get all the talented women we knew in animation together on a fun project. Both of us were college friends and went to art school together at The Laguna College of Art and Design. When we got out into the industry, we realized that there were very few women directors, and also a fewer presence of women who draw pin up art of women at conventions, like Comic-Con. We got about 18 of our collaborative friends together to create our very first book, “GirlsDrawinGirls, vol. 1: A Girl in Time”, and since then, this group has gained momentum and has snowballed into an international movement.
Was there a particular moment that sparked your need to create GirlsDrawinGirls?
I don’t know if there was a particular moment, I think it was more like “moments”, but I can give you an early example of who I’ve become today. Growing up, I was always a kid that liked to do things my own way. I would play “Batman” with the neighborhood kids, insist on being Catwoman, and I would also insist that Catwoman was more powerful than Batman, and I had all the reasons why. I just never thought that women should be considered less qualified than a man, if they were indeed intelligent, strong, and confident. As I got into my career, I noticed that there were so many tremendously talented women I knew that could draw circles around the best of them. I figured I could take characteristics from the part of me that was the child that wouldn’t take no for an answer about Catwomen being cooler than Batman and use it to show that women can be just as good, if not better than anyone else in the industry.
I think pin-up is a great way to give women a voice in how they want to represent their own sexuality. There is nothing wrong with women being sexual, and there is nothing wrong with embracing that side of oneself. It is empowering.“Bonus” by Melody Severns
How would you describe your personal style?
I have a very cartoony style. I come from an animation background, so I tend to draw women realistically, with some cartoon/comic tones. I also have grown to love watercolors and I try to use them for personal art as much as I can.
How long have you been an artist?
I have been an artist for as long as I can remember. My grandfather was an animator for Disney back in the days of Bambi and Cinderella. He was always a huge inspiration for me. My family never discouraged me from pursuing my artistic endeavors, so I am tremendously grateful for that. My grandfather has since passed away, so there’s always a part of me that continues to push myself in the hopes that I would have made him proud.
As a female artist, do you feel you are judged differently than your male counterparts?
This is a tough question, because in no way do I feel negatively or disrespect from the great men that I have in my life, or have met in my career. That being said, I do think there is a general stigma that women should feel bad about drawing anything that depicts sexuality, especially female sexuality, which is absurd. There is also sometimes a stigma in the industry that women in a position of authority can be taken as a “bitch”, and a man in a position of authority is just a strong go getter. I think it’s time to change all of this. These are archaic beliefs that need to be changed. GirlsDrawinGirls seeks to be the positive counterpart to outdated beliefs.
There is a wonderful variety in style amongst the GirlsDrawinGirls artists. What do you look for when women want to join?
I basically just look to see if there is a general strong idea of form, anatomy, style, and structure. I love that we have a variety of styles, and I hope that we continue on that trend. Having many voices makes us better and more interesting.GirlsDrawinGirls logo girl, Gigi, with an owl by Jennifer Gheduzzi
Any advice to women artists out there?
My advice is to learn as much as you can and to always improve. Never take criticism personally. Always grow, and always be up for adapting. Never take failure personally. Failure is actually a part of success. Some of the best people in the world have had to experience rejection. What makes them stand out from the crowd is the ability to endure. Always endure, you are stronger than you could ever imagine.
GirlsDrawinGirls had a fun event at the Chuck Jones Gallery at Comic-Con. Can you please tell me how that event came about?
A good friend of mine introduced me to the fine folks at the Chuck Jones Gallery. I was so honored and thrilled that they were interested in working with me and my group. Chuck Jones has always been a strong inspiration of mine and his daughter, Linda Jones Clough wrote the foreword for GDG’s fourth book. It was a privilege to work with such animation royalty who are also genuinely wonderful people. I look forward to working with them more in the future!
How do you think the event went?
I could not be more pleased with the evening. People were excited not only about the art of GirlsDrawinGirls, but also with the art of Chuck Jones. It was so fun talking to fans and supporters of both GirlsDrawinGirls and The Chuck Jones Gallery. It definitely made this year’s Comic-Con my favorite that I have ever been a part of (and I have been a part of a few!)
What was your favorite part of that evening?
One of my favorite parts was being able to talk to the crowd about how I met Chuck Jones during his last public speaking event when I was in college. I shook his hand and was able to hear a legend talk. I found out earlier that day, as I spoke to this daughter, Linda at a signing at the GirlsDrawinGirls booth that he was sick during that time, but the excitement that he got from inspiring young people made him happy, eager, and full of energy. I never knew that not only was that a big moment for me in my life, but it was also a big moment for him and his family. That experience was none other than a blessing that I was fortunate to have.
What is next for GirlsDrawinGirls?
Coming up in October, we have a solo art show of one of our featured artists, Ashley Brooke Cooper at the historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, California. It will be during the 80th anniversary premiere of Cecil B. DeMille’s film, “Cleopatra” and all of Ashley’s art will be celebrating ancient Egyptian women. In the grander scheme of things, GirlsDrawinGirls is looking to branch out more internationally. We have created a Canada chapter and are looking at doing more international shows in the future. We want to take on the world!
What is next for you?
I am currently working as an animation producer, so I am excited to see where that path takes me. I also want to continue with my path of leading GirlsDrawinGirls. The group’s name is bigger and more recognized than my own, and I consider that a success. This movement is bigger than me, and is about empowering women as a whole. I am honored to be the spokeswoman for it.
Besides the GirlsDrawinGirls site, where else can people find more information?
You can follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/girlsdrawingirls
On Twitter: @grlsdrawingrls
On Instagram: @girlsdrawingirls
and on our blog: http://girlsdrawingirls.blogspot.com