Welcome to the first edition of a new monthly feature, Babe of the Month! Every month we will be interviewing a lovely lady that shares our values at Pelican House and inspires us, and we hope will inspire you!
July is here! And that means it's time for our very first BOTM (Babe of the Month!). Say hello to our lady of July, Marissa Quinn! Marissa is a Los Angeles/San Diego based artist whose intricate pen and ink drawings narrate cyclical stories of extinction and growth in nature. By combining elements of California endangered flora and fauna, Marissa creates dramatic compositions which seem to be caught in space and time, in states of either transformation or adaptation to current biospheric changes in our Earth. Born and raised on the salty shores of San Diego California, the sea inspires her to visually portray Nature’s narratives. She is known for her oceanic dreamscapes with narratives of endangered species and/or environmental degradation in surrealistic pen and ink drawings. In 2014 she graduated from Azusa Pacific University with a Master of Fine Arts concentrating in fine art and drawing. She currently lives in San Diego, where she works as a full time artist and is writing her first book!
I was fortunate enough to have Marissa stay with me a few days on her Rewild(her) journey, and I instantly knew I had a true soul sister in my company. Her kindness and gentle nature are a joy to be around, and her playful and inquisitive exploration of everyday life is contagious. Her beautiful work pales only in comparison to her big heart and luminous spirit. Read on as we talk conservation, inspiration, and common challenges as a creative.
Seven Questions With Marissa Quinn
One of my favorite things about your work is how you incorporate endangered and threatened species in really interesting and whimsical ways, bringing awareness to environmental issues in a different and more playful way. What do you hope to inspire in your audience from your art? What can we all do to protect native species in California (and the planet as a whole) in our daily life?
Marissa- Thank you so much! Yes, my goal is to bring awareness to environmental issues through what I like to call soul language- the place of symbolic visual storytelling through drawing and illustration. I hope to reveal the suffering of the world while surrounding it with hope and light. From the buzz of honeybee wings to the exhale of a humpback whale, we are all connected and I hope to illustrate this connection in both my work and lifestyle. There are several things people can do on a day to day basis to help our planet. Some of these include smart lifestyle habits such as avoiding single use plastics which often end up in our oceans, shopping organic, supporting your local farmers, volunteering for community events such as beach clean-ups, neighborhood trash clean-ups, farm to table events and things like that. If you feel a desire to be a difference maker and can’t find something to get involved with, then start it on your own! Get out there are create communities of conscious game-changers!
It is very clear to anyone that is a fan of your work that you have a thing for honey bees. They are in many of your pieces whether as the main focus or just a little visitor on the edges of the canvas. What is their significance to you and in your artwork?
Marissa- Yes! So I grew up in an extremely conservative Christian home where I was taught to view the world through a patriarchal lens. As a young girl I remember feeling a lot of confusion over the image of God that I was being taught versus the image of God that I felt to be real. It wasn’t until my college years that my world was rocked by a couple of professors who showed me things like goddess theologies, the wisdom tradition through a feminine reading, and the writings of Hildegard of Bingen who wrote visions of God as a Divine Feminine Honeybee. While honeybees are my symbol of the femininity of the Divine, they are also a gateway conversation into conservation of endangered species and how humans can actively help our Earth on a daily basis.
What advice do you have for someone wanting to go full time with their art/ creative work, but is too afraid to let go of the security of their day job?
Marissa- I would say that there is no shame in keeping the day job! I did the full-time work and full-time artist hustle for two years! And I didn’t just one day decide to go fulltime as an artist- I took baby steps of quitting the full-time job, then going parttime, and then doing weekends! Seriously, its really good to take the financial pressure off your creativity and give yourself a community of people to be with outside your little world!
Something you talk about quite a bit in your Rewild(her) journey is working through your anxiety; something that so many of us struggle with on some level. What has helped you the most to get through those tough spots?
Marissa- Three things: 1- My girl tribe! I have an awesome community of women who are so supportive and are also working either a side hustle or are also creative entrepreneurs! We know that we can call each other at any time when anxiety creeps in for any of us. 2- Getting out of my head and into my body. The mind-body connection is so powerful that if one is off balance, then the other usually triggers an anxiety reaction. I exercise every morning, and then in the afternoons I get outside in Nature and I meditate! 3- Nature! When I feel really anxious I always go either a surf, a long beach run, or a hike. Water has a natural calming effect on the human body and mind, so surfing is the ideal way for me to get out of my anxious mind and be fully present in my body.
For our fellow surfer girls out there, where can we get one of your boards with your gorgeous artwork on it?
Marissa- Email me! I work with a shaper and we can create the shape and size you want, and then after it is shaped I go in and paint on the foam before its glassed!
It seems like you are always working on a new piece, a new show, a new collaboration... do you ever get burn out or creative blocks? And if so, how do you handle it and get back on track?
Marissa- Yes! I just experienced a burn out earlier this month after a marathon of two murals on the East Coast in one month while working on a show, several collaborations, a few commissions, and trying to find time to finish my book! It is still a learning process, but I have a life coach who I Skype every week and she keeps me on track with my business and with my values. We always check in and see if my core values are in alignment with my projects in order to avoid getting burnt out. On top of that I stick to a daily routine that works for me and I don’t change it! This has helped me schedule in lots of breaks and rest days in order to keep myself inspired and on point.
What is your most favorite project you've ever worked on and why?
Marissa- Ah! I don’t know there have been so many that I love! I think its a three-way tie between a nine-foot live drawing I did for the Museum of Art and History in Lancaster (MOAH), the surfboard I painted for myself (I never take the time to create things for myself so that was amazing), and the journey I took from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada and back by myself for the book I am currently writing and illustrating called “The Rewild(her)’s Journey”.
"In the great mystery of the unknown there is a current that catches your trust fall into darkness, and in the darkness, the Universe honors you by giving you new wings with which to soar through the shadows of yourself towards the light of your truth"
Marissa's writing carries the same mystical poetic imagery that is the hallmark of her art pieces. It's as if she's swapped her visual art with an auditory canvas to delight your ears and spirit. Whether she is creating a daily affirmation, or writing a blog post, her writing is always a little slice of poetic dessert that you eat right up, and leaves you wanting more. Her first book, "The Rewild(her)'s Journey", is currently in progress, and will be an experiential book meant to serve as the reader's guide to travel and drawing. It will be filled with sketches, notes, quotes, thoughts, and feelings from the road spilled out onto 100+ pages, including blanks and spaces for you to add your own. Think messy sketchbook meets modern design with a blend of narrative and poetry. I for one cannot wait for this book to drop, and will be anxiously awaiting it's release sometime at the end of this summer. Want a little taste? Definitely go check out her Rewild(her) blog, featuring personal notes and revelations from the road, her very inspiration and source for the book's content.
Happy August! I am so pleased to introduce August's Babe-of-the-Month, Hannah Stowe! Hannah, also known by her Instagram handle and lifestyle brand Slightly Salty, is your adventure girl next door. She's a yoga teacher, a student of marine biology, climber, surfer, outdoor adventure seeker, and full-time van dweller! But if we are not just the things we do, who is Hannah Stowe in essence?