Mari Andrew is an artist currently based in New York City, who is popularly known by her Instagram handle bymariandrew. She recently published her book, “Am I There Yet?”, and is currently touring for the promotion of her debut book. The book, which contains several illustrations that she has posted on her Instagram account, chronicles her journey from adolescence and her growth as an artist.
Mari’s story is an inspiring one. She has suffered from an illness that took away all her freedoms; her writing was previously rejected 45 times; and before deciding to take up drawing at the age of 28, she had worked as a barista, at a law firm, a boutique, and tried her hand at marketing too. Her trajectory as an artist is a testament to the fact that it is never too late to start over, and you’re never too old to do the things you want to do.
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The reason why the illustrations of bymariandrew hold a special place in my heart is because, unlike other funny comics for adults, her art is honest and vulnerable. One of the many things that her art has taught me is to embrace vulnerability and sensitivity as a strength, rather than being embarrassed of it. Mari’s art has a way of putting into words those emotions and experiences for which no language has a name. I’ve curated some of my favorite illustrations by her, and hopefully they’ll give you an idea about her art and their contexts before you follow her account!
Everything is temporary. The rain, the sunshine, the blossoming flowers, the withering leaves. Nature’s cyclical motions serve as a constant reminder that nothing lasts forever. Life may be the longest thing that we will ever experience, but it is also short. Celebrate these wonderful contradictions; take solace in the fact that what you’re going through now is not permanent. It’s not the end. You may be having a really bad day. Or the best day of your life. Revel in the fact that you are alive today because tomorrow could be so much different. The snow will melt and the flowers will bloom again; the sun will shine again and you will live to see the light of another day. Hold on to that.
Trust is a fragile, delicate thing. It breaks easily and takes ages to be glued back together into the exact same shape. Sometimes, we’re so hurt and broken down by the negative experiences we have with people, we develop an intricate system of walls through which nothing permeates. This will prevent us from falling for the same tricks again, we tell ourselves. This security system will protect us from pain and loss, we remind ourselves everyday. But sometimes this causes us to miss out on something wonderful. Our walls prevent us from viewing the entire jigsaw puzzle; a piece that might have been the perfect fit is mistaken for a red flag that must be shot down immediately. Allow yourself to feel; to be open to people and experiences. It’s the bravest thing one can do. Don’t bury yourself so deep into your cocoon that you forget to live your life in the outside world.
My most favorite feeling in the world is when women support and stand up for one another, instead of trying to put each other down. Everyday I am grateful and proud to be surrounded by such amazing women who are working so hard for what they believe in and succeeding in everything they set their minds to. The only way to fight for ourselves and take down oppressive institutions is to stand united!
When someone tells you they’re feeling upset or sad, telling them to “stop being sad” is the worst advice you can give. That’s not how emotions work, they can’t be erased or brought to the surface at our will. Sometimes when a person is upset, all they need is someone who is willing to lend them an ear and listen patiently. They’re not looking for someone to magically cheer them up or make their problems go away. More often than not, the best way to cure sadness is to allow the person to feel it and let it out, while making sure they’re not alone and that you’re there by their side. That’s all they need. Just a friendly squeeze of their hands to remind them that there are people who are ready to just sit down and listen to them rant about their issues.
Being in your twenties is a time full of uncertainties, but also the most exciting period of your life. You’re old enough to make your own decisions and live your life the way you want to, and young enough to make mistakes and learn from them. This is the time for you to put yourself out there and experience life in all its shades. However, also remember, your twenties may not be when you figure everything out. You might end up taking a job you hate, getting a haircut that doesn’t suit you, or trying an exotic cuisine that doesn’t quite fit your palate. But don’t take these as signs of failure or something lost, these are all experiences that make you you. You may not be your best and brightest self in your twenties, but that’s not the end of the world for you. Allow yourself to grow at your own pace. Someone might think they have their entire life figured out and sorted at 21, but they might just be wrong about everything. No one knows what life is going to be like in the future, especially not when you’re in your twenties. And while that might seem scary at times, remember it’s okay.
PSA to all men trying to compliment women: we don’t feel good when you put other women down to make us feel good about ourselves. That’s not how compliments work. Comparing a woman you like with other women and saying that she’s “not like other girls” is not flattering. It doesn’t make them feel unique or special, it makes them realize what a jerk you are and that they should stay as far away from you as possible.
As a general rule that applies to all human beings, complimenting someone is not about comparing them to others and establishing them as the superior one in your eyes. It’s about acknowledging someone for their goodness, recognizing their talents and appreciating their kindness. Making someone feel good at the cost of another person’s feelings or integrity is not a compliment, it’s cruelty.
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I like this one because this illustration by Mari Andrew is a perfect representation of what my childhood was like. Along with being a single child, I was also extremely shy and we changed cities thrice while I was growing up. This meant that I didn’t have too many friends (apart from those in school, but none of them lived close by) to play with at home. My only companions were the toys I owned, the cartoons I watched on TV and my mother who would try her best to give five year old me some company. I loved pretending to be a teacher and had a class full of imaginary students whom I would often scold. I also made elaborate back-stories for all my dolls, collected buttons and kept them in tiny boxes that previously contained camera films and put up puppet shows for my parents.
Love isn’t always picture perfect and easy like they show it in the movies. In fact, it is anything but that. Sometimes you need to work on love to make it stay, sometimes you need to nurse it back to health if it’s broken, sometimes you leave it alone and wait for it get back to you, and sometimes you move on because that’s the best thing you can do for your love. Love requires you to fight for it, to compromise even. Love isn’t a formula that works exactly the same way for every single one of us; we make our own definitions of love.
My friend once described art to me as a 3 am friend, and I am yet to find a better definition for it. Art is a way of connecting with the world around; it is a constant reminder that we are alive and living and surrounded by so much life and beauty. It is a line of communication between the artist and the consumer of art, an unspoken voice “I am here”, repeatedly. It is a reminder that there is someone on the other side listening, watching, understanding and empathizing. Art is a testament to the fact that we are not alone, that there is someone out there who truly gets us, and that we still have some humanity left in us.
The next time you mourn a relationship that has ended, remember that nothing can ever erase the memories that you have created. The love, kindness and respect that you have shared with each other have a sacred space that no one can infiltrate or defile. It is a planet that thrives on the power of your love, and its beauty may not be seen by you or anyone else anymore, but it will continue to exist. So, never regret any failed relationship that you may have had because in spite of its unpleasantness, there must have been some beauty in it, and that beauty is something that even time cannot take away from you.
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What makes the illustrations of bymariandrew so relatable and unforgettable is the fact that she draws her inspiration from everyday life, emotions and experiences that all of us have been through at least once. What sets it apart from other funny comics for adults is that she also draws from her personal experiences and life lessons to create art that is poignant, thought-provoking and inspiring.
Featured image source: Instagram