New mural at CHIKO

Chicko-Mural-DanaJeriMaier

Last month I completed a mural for CHIKO, an amazing new restaurant in Barrack's Row by chefs Danny Lee, Scott Drewno, and Andrew Kim, which has received a lot of well deserved praise since it opened. I'm still dreaming of their catfish friend rice as I type this.

Below are a few images of the mural in progress:

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Chicko-Mural-DanaJeriMaier
Chicko-MuralInProgress-DanaJeriMaier
ChickoMural-DanaJeriMaier
ChickoMural-DanaJeriMaier

As always, thanks to my friend Natalie of Natalie Park Design Studio for making it happen! 

A peek inside my studio

Ready to take a peek inside the art studio of your typical Washington DC-based cartoonist-who-also-works-out-of-her-bedroom? All right then! Here we go: 

Yes, I clean it off before sleeping on it. 

Yes, I clean it off before sleeping on it. 

A side effect of working out of my bedroom, is that naps are often part of my "creative process." I have mostly come to terms with this.

It also means that my bed often doubles as a second desk. The one I do all my work on is here: 

I envy those artists who are able to work clean, but if I’m not making a mess it means nothing is getting done. 

To the left of my desk is my magnetic bulletin board. If you have mailed me a card or a letter in the past three to five years, there is an excellent chance it is here somewhere. 

 

Below is my bay window, which is yet another surface where I store wheat pasting photocopies, use as a cutting station, and pile all of my art that has yet to be sorted. You can see a sneak-peak of my next wheatpaste here:


More storage shelves: 


My old filing system (left) and my new filing system (right). I used to hate the Container Store on principle (“how is it that we have so much stuff we need an ENTIRE STORE to buy items to store our stuff?!”), but now I am now a true believer. Their filing cabinents put all others to shame: 

Here are some non-alphabetized bookshelves, "Understand Modern Art Instantly" breath spray, an original Tim Kreider drawing, and one of my favorite Saul Steinberg New Yorker covers purchased from the print guy at Eastern Market. 

More unalphabetized books! The tchotchkes are from a trip to Turkey. The metal shelf to the right is a spice rack from Marshall's I had some notion of turning into a hutch for my desk until it turned out to be the wrong shape. 

And finally, the beautiful turret outside my window, which sneaks into my drawings from time to time. One morning in December I even woke up and saw this: 

What are the odds?! 

What are the odds?! 

What I Learned Drawing a Bi-Weekly Comic for a Little Over a Year

I’ve been drawing The Worried Well regularly for a little over a year now, and have slowly progressed from the Not Sure What I Am Doing phase to the Why is This Getting Harder, Not Easier? phase, and finally, onto the Huh, Surely I Should Have Run Out of Ideas by Now phase. This seems like as good a time as any to write about What I Learned in list-fashion, so on that note: 

What I Learned Drawing a Bi-Weekly Comic for a Little Over a Year

1. If you don’t have a lot to say on a topic, don’t push it. 
As some of you may remember, in 2015 I created a mini comic called The Illustrated Guide to $14 Cocktails. A few of the individual cartoons are still lurking around online, but overall I consider it one of my weaker books. But what happened? It sounds like it would write itself, no? Those overpriced drinks just begging to be mocked! All of those fancy ingredients only a handful of people could possibly care about! And so forth. But in the end, I ran out of things to say about pricy cocktails pretty quickly—I had maybe one or two cartoons worth of material that I tried to stretch into a book’s worth, and it just didn’t work. (Also, how do you write about drinking expensive cocktails without sounding like a jackass? Serious question. Please tell me.)
 
There are, however, LOTS of things that make me legitimately opinionated: the overabundance of Book Shaped Product (ie, contentless drivel packaged up nicely), inspirational items that are really not, Richard Price, the so-called circular firing squad of the left, feeling powerless and infuriated at our current administration but how we cannot use that as an excuse not to act, introvert fetishization, my controversial stance Valentine’s Day is actually a wonderful holiday, not feeling the way you are “supposed” to feel, and many others. My general rule is that if I encounter a topic that makes me want to go on a drunken rant, I might have something I can work with.

2. No one cares about the drawing. Except other artists. 
I knew this going in of course, but seeing it play out in real life is vaguely depressing. 

3. Nib pens are your friend. 
The advantage of using a nib pen? It slows you down and forces you to work in one place. The disadvantage? It slows you down and forces you to work in one place. Right now my favorite tools include speedball 512s, square yellow Post-It Notes for doodles, an assortment of Japanese Pilot pens from JetPens.com (thanks, Eric!), and various glass trays I purchased at thrift stores and garage sales for palettes. 

4. It's important to finish things. 
To paraphrase Tom Hart: "You can be the type of artist who finishes things or the type of artist who hates himself." And weirdly, one of my proudest accomplishments last year was applying for a cartooning residency I didn't get into. It was only after I completed the application that I figured out what I wanted a collection of my work to look like.   

5. It's still way more fun to draw stuff that doesn't have to make any sense. 
Easier, too. 

Wheatpasting for Beginners

And how. 

The awesome folks at LemonBowl DC are kind enough to let me host a few wheatpasting workshops this year. If you ever wanted to learn the not-so-fine art of gluing oversized paper to walls, I am spilling all of my secrets on February 21 and March 8 for $25. 

The last one sold out, so get tickets while you can here! Official description: 

Learn the not-so-ancient art of gluing oversized photocopies to walls with artist and cartoonist Dana Jeri Maier. You will learn:

- How to go from an 8x10'' drawing to a large-scale, finished wheatpaste
- Where to buy materials for cheap
- Dana’s personal street art philosophy (yes, she does have one!) 

All students will receive a limited-edition booklet by Dana containing wheatpasting resources and tips. Glue, brushes, and drawing materials will also be provided for in-class demonstrations, along with wine and snacks to get the creative juices flowing.

My Reading Year 2016: Cranky Edition

And now my long-awaited(?) 2016 reading wrap-up. Most of it was spent listening to the superb (but lengthy) Lyndon Johnson biography by Robert Caro, a book I didn't expect to be in my roster but feels like one of most important works I’ve read in awhile. Other than that, it was a typical eclectic reading year. I read a classic I should've read in high school, a book that made me want to punch the writer in the face, abandoned a book that everyone else seemed to like but me, and gleefully devoured the latest Harry Potter play adaptation despite reviews like this. And I reread a few favorites for good measure. 

Best and Most Important
Master of the Senate (The Years of Lyndon Johnson, #3) by Robert A. Caro
So we all know the United States Senate is a mess, but did you ever wonder how or why, exactly it was a mess other than something-something corrupt politicians? I sure didn’t. This book is not only a superb biography of Lyndon Johnson, but a fascinating (and infuriating) illustration of how the senate works, and how LBJ was the first man to come along to figure out how to exploit it to his advantage. It’s also a harsh reminder of how being on the right side of history isn’t enough if you can’t wield power effectively. 


Most Annoying
Chaos Monkeys: Obscene Fortune and Random Failure in Silicon Valley
by Antonio Garcia Martinez
There’s a lot of interesting content in this book, mostly about how start ups are born, and gossipy tales of the office culture at Facebook and Twitter. Unfortunately, it was all overshadowed by an author hell-bent on making sure you know that he is Smarter Than You with every sentence. Not to mention casual misogyny (the women he's fucking don't even get proper pseudonyms and the mother of his children is obnoxiously referred to as "British Trader" the whole time) and cringe-inducing sex scenes. If you want a more palatable account of start-up culture, I'd recommend Dan Lyon's book, Disrupted

Most Entertaining
Disrupted: My Misadventure in the Start-Up Bubble by Dan Lyons
This was a fun, if slightly terrifying, romp through a certain brand of youth-driven, peppy start-up culture I read this in one sitting. 

Most Overrated
A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara
Unconvincing torture porn. And became impossible to take seriously the moment one of the protagonists, an artist, manages to get a show at the Met at the ripe old age of 27.  

Book that Did Not Disappoint, Even Though Every Review Said It Would
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, Parts 1 & 2 (Harry Potter #8)
by John Tiffany (Adaptation), Jack Thorne (Adaptation), J.K. Rowling
I'm going to come out and say it: I love Harry Potter. I love J.K. Rowling, who seems like more and more of a brilliant class act every day. I love the adult novels she's written since the series ended. (I have no love whatsoever for any Harry Potter movies except the fourth one, but that is a whole other blog post.) Anyhow, Harry Potter and the Cursed Child was everything I wanted it to be. I am eagerly awaiting an audio version. 

Book that Did Disappoint, But I'm Glad I Read Anyway
The Mandibles by Lionel Shriver
I'm sure I'm on record somewhere as a huge Lionel Shriver fangirl. Her books We Need to Talk About Kevin and The Post Birthday World are some of my all-time-re-read-every-few-years-and-try-to-foist-on-all-my-friends favorites, and she is better at articulating human motivation than any writer I know. That said, The Mandibles—a dystopian novel that traces a family during an American financial collapse—isn't one of her better novels. She didn't figure out how to make her characters talk constantly about interest rates and currency valuation without them sound like walking Economist articles rather than people, and the whole second part of the book should probably have been cut in half. Nonetheless, it was well worth the read for its insight about our complex relationship with money.  

Best Re-read
Revolutionary Road, by Richard Yates. 
This one is on my 're-read every five years or so' shelf and sends shivers down my spine every time. It's also one of the few books to truly dissect the question: so how do you have a meaningful life, anyway? 

Book I'd Should've Already Read By Now, but Am Also Glad I Read in Adulthood Instead of in High School
Lolita, by Vladmir Nabokov. A masterpiece that would have been completely wasted on me at 16. 

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Other Books I Read And Enjoyed
The Martian, by Anthony Weir. Better than the movie!

How to Be a Person in the World, by Heather Havrilesky. 

The Interrogative Mood, by Padgett Powell. A book composed entirely of wonderfully weird and thoughtful questions. (Examples: "When you see an abandoned toilet, do you have any impulse to salvage it or right it or in any way restore to it some lost dignity?" and "Would you like to have been a conquistador—perhaps a benign one?”) 

Rolling Blackouts: Dispatches from Turkey, Syria, and Iraq by Sarah Glidden. 
Amazing. Everyone who cares about journalism should read this. 

Hot Dog Taste Test by Lisa Hanawalt
Lisa Hanawalt teaches us all that not only is your weird, pervy stuff in your brain not only worth sharing, it is what people will love you for. 

Mooncop, by Tom Gauld. 
Pure poetry. Anything else I say about it will ruin it. 

Happy New Year, everyone! As always, I welcome friendship on Goodreads if any fellow readers want to compare notes or recommend titles. 

 

 

 

Resist! and other cartoons

I'm pleased to announce that my cartoon, "Beyond the Safety Pin" will be included in the print version of Resist! magazine. This is a cartoon anthology edited by Gabe Fowler, Françoise Mouly and Nadja Spiegelman featuring work from women and LGBTQ artists in response to Trump’s election, and will be distributed free in DC on Innaguaration Day. You can learn more about it and see more cartoons by the other artists here, and read an interesting NY Mag article about the project here. Apparently I am not the only woman who feels a sick aversion to drawing Trump.

Beyond the Safety Pin

Beyond the Safety Pin

I'm still figuring out how to address our new political horrorshow in my cartoons, and figuring out how but more on that later. In the meantime, I figured I'd use my limited talent for portraiture to draw people who are genuinely inspiring: 

Some more of my political cartoons (or more accurately, "politically inspired" cartoons?) are below. And if any readers would like some I'll Miss This Guy stickers [see above], please contact me and I'm happy to send some your way. 

The Troubled Mind: Post 2016 Election Edition 

The Troubled Mind: Post 2016 Election Edition 

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Journaling IS a dumb word. 

Journaling IS a dumb word. 

Art for sale at the DC Design Week Pop-Up Shop

Mouse in a Cup original drawing. 5x7,’’ matted at 8x10.’’ $45, signed.

Mouse in a Cup original drawing. 5x7,’’ matted at 8x10.’’ $45, signed.

I will have some prints and drawings for sale at the DC Design Week Pop-Up Shop, where I fully expect to spend any money I make buying stuff from the other illustrators and designers. Below is a quick preview of what I'll be selling. 

The opening party is this Sunday, but if you can’t make it or don’t live nearby everything is available in the shop, too. 

When
Sunday, October 23
Opening party at 2:00 PM

Where
Cherry Blossom Creative
 2128 8th St NW, Washington, DC 20001

Ladies Drawing Night Print. 8x10’’ print.

Ladies Drawing Night Print. 8x10’’ print.

Adams Morgan Bingo - Color Edition. 11x14’’ print. 

Adams Morgan Bingo - Color Edition. 11x14’’ print. 

The Creative Process, Parts 1 - 6

As an artist, I’ve been fascinated by the amount of material that has suddenly blossomed about the “creative process.” Not only is it impossible to open my email without a barrage of “7 tips for boosting your creativity”-esque clickbait, there are now journals to help you along, Tarot cards to spark ideas, collections of inspirational quotes, coloring books up the wazoo, and all sorts of stuff I’m probably forgetting. 

And what always fascinates me is how little any of it helps when I sit down to actually work. The most they can offer me is solidarity; a “hey, it’s hard for all of us, isn’t it?” reassurance that’s handy to have in the back of your mind, but completely useless when trying to figure out what to draw and how to draw it. Perhaps for that reason I’ve always been more consoled by works like Isn’t It Romantic?–the brilliant 2011 David Rakoff essay where he describes in beautiful, agonizing detail the process of how a day devoted to writing will so easily go from “Pregnant with Potential” to “Freighted with Failure,”–than I am by encouraging posters. 

This is not to say I think less of the people who find books or journals about creativity helpful. It’s easy to roll your eyes at titles like “Unleashing Your Inner Something-or-Other” (and I may gently mock them in my cartoons now and then) but if someone feels as though they finally have “permission” to draw or paint thanks to a book, or a think piece, or even a wine and paint class, only a churl would begrudge them for it. (Besides, the fact that adult coloring books are a thing now can only lead to more jobs for artists and illustrators, so I’m sure as hell not complaining.)  

My Creative Process series adds to the pile of these guides, but without offering any useful advice whatsoever. The goal is just to show what it’s like for me, and, because I’m not particularly unique, what it might be like for other people. I finished it last spring but never got around to posting it, so Parts 1 - 6 are below: 

Evolution of the Social Media Fairy

One of the tricks I’ve learned about drawing comics is that your own internal (or occasionally external) rants are a handy source of material in a pinch. I couldn’t figure out how to articulate my contradictory 'social-media-is-poisoning-and-feeding-me-at-the-same-time’ feelings until it occurred to me to throw the Social Media Fairy into the mix. Monday's cartoon is the result: 

Some practice sketches and color blobs: 

And here are my original notes. I didn’t want the cartoon to be too text-heavy, so I cut down my original rant quite a bit. I also moved her to a bed, since I'm getting tired of drawing a figure at a desk behind a computer.

Barry Gallery B+W Show

I'll have some drawings in a show at Marymount University featuring black-and-white work. I'll be displaying a bunch of pieces that were literally collecting dust on my wall for the last several months, so I'm happy to give them some breathing room. 

See this drawing IRL at the Barry Gallery! 

The show runs to October 14 and the opening party is this Friday, September 9th from 6-8 if anyone wants to swing by. 

Official show announcement: 

Please join us Friday, Sept. 9 at the opening reception for the exhibition “B+W,” featuring the work of Karen Coleman, Dana Jeri Maier, Matthew McLaughlin and Wayne Paige. The event will be held in the Barry Gallery of Marymount University’s Reinsch Library from 6-8 p.m.
The event is free and open to the public.
Curated by Judy Bass and Trudi Vandyck, the exhibit will be on display through October 14. Gallery hours are 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 10 a.m. - 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 
Barry Gallery Reinsch Library
2807 North Glebe Road Arlington, VA 22207
www.marymount.edu/barrygallery

Sketches from ContraryCon

On Friday I attended the ContraryCon at ISL. My goal was to take sketch notes, though most wound up being heavier on the sketch part. A few of my favorites below: 

Crowd scene. I did many of these. 

Crowd scene. I did many of these. 

Good advice from Matt Chase. 

Good advice from Matt Chase. 

Yet another crowd scene. 

Yet another crowd scene. 

Eileen Tjan of Other Studio. 

Eileen Tjan of Other Studio. 

Completely out-of-context quote from the House Industries presentation, which was one of my favorites of the day. 

Completely out-of-context quote from the House Industries presentation, which was one of my favorites of the day. 

Also from the House Industries slideshow. This was their book for Agent Provocateur. 

Also from the House Industries slideshow. This was their book for Agent Provocateur. 

Victoria Taylor, of WeWork. 

Victoria Taylor, of WeWork. 

Hey look, another crowd scene! 

Erica Lee Schlaikjer & faces that I turned into a word bubble, for some reason. 

Erica Lee Schlaikjer & faces that I turned into a word bubble, for some reason. 

I thought this design talk from Nour Tabet made a lot of very good points. 

I thought this design talk from Nour Tabet made a lot of very good points. 

Slow Pens vs. Fast Pens

Another side effect of attending SAW was that I began to use a nib pen again, a practice I'd gotten out of the habit of. Below are a few nib pen warm-up doodles:  

The advantage of a nib pen is that it slows you down, which makes it ideal for Contemplative Doodling, as I like to call it. (Actually, I just made that up, but it seems to fit.) As you can see, they're a combination of stream-of-conscious imagery and me talking to myself:

I've also been drawing more on the train, in an attempt to make the best of the recent spurt of Metro delays. My sketchbook work is done with a portable brush pen, which is a good safeguard against getting bogged down in too many details: 

Sad commuters. 

Poor, poor commuters. 

Poor, poor commuters. 

New Mini Comic

A few weeks ago I attended the Sequential Artists Workshop for a week long residency.  (Can’t say enough good things about it, by the way, and would highly recommend it to anyone who wants to devote productive time to drawing and cartooning—but more on that later.) While I was there I created an 8 page mini comic, based on my disastrous experience trying to wait tables when I was 19: 

You can buy a copy here for $5, or see the online version on GoComics (part 2 is coming out on Friday, June 3).

Self help section

My self-help cartoon is on GoComics today. This was one of ideas that at first made me think, "huh! Why, this will write itself!" and then required coming up with about a bazillion aggressively unfunny book titles and lousy drawings (plus a trip to Kramer Books to research actual self-help books) before finally settling on the final version. Here are a few sketches: 

Ugh. 

Ugh

UGH. 

UGH

Getting there, but still ugh. 

Getting there, but still ugh. 

And the final version, at long last: 

Some recent nonsense

I mentally file all of my artwork into two crudely-labeled piles: the Kind That Makes Sense, and the Kind That Does Not Make Sense. Generally speaking, the Kind That Does Not Make Sense is more fun, though it often arrives by accident when I'm aiming for the making-sense-type of art. Here are a few recent examples.

Below, I was trying to draw what I can only describe as a “pile of crap” for another cartoon (long story), and this is what wound up happening. 

Below is a drawing I started at a restaurant a few months back. I was doodling the guy at the table across from me, and it all snowballed from there:  

Oh, brunch! 

Oh, brunch! 

Here is me having fun with heads in profile, and a new slant-angled Micron pen:  

It took me awhile to realize that there's a sweet spot with weirdness in art: too strange, and it becomes off-putting, and too normal and well, what's the point? You have to be unusual, but still give the viewer something to cling onto.  Being weird can also be used to disguise a lack of ideas, or talent (see how many artist statements abandon explanations in the first place, and just spout gibberish as a means of distractions).