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Akshita Rana

JWB Intern

Illustrator Mari Unboxes Her Paint Colors To Release Feminist Zebras That Live In Every Girl’s Life

  • JWB Post
  •  November 4, 2016


I bet each of us had tried to maintain a journal and failed miserably…but don’t worry! Recently I came across Mari Andrew’s page on Instagram and believe me, her illustrations made me scream out loud, “story of my life!!!”Mari Andrew, a writer, and illustrator from Washington D.C., has painted a hilarious comic on all the stuff we girls go through. How to dress to impress and how to deal with unimpressed trolls, she knows it all. She loves zebras for their stripes and philosophical duality. She laughs at those who is selfie-shly shy! She imagines her boyfriend as a city. And…I guarantee that every girl will relate to her representation of everyday struggles in a subway or the problem in finding ‘the one.’

Yesterday, Mari dropped her paper and brush to work her fingers on a keyboard and answered a host of questions I had emailed her.

Me: If your phone could speak what would it tell us about you?

Mari: That I have been wanting an asymmetrical haircut forever (I have so many screenshots of cute ones I see on Instagram). Also, that I really need to learn how to delete. That’s literal but also symbolic! (My ex-boyfriend is always in my recent search history. I need to delete him from my heart AND my phone).

*how many of you are screaming mentally, “me too!”?*

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: Is your life more like Black stripes in White or White stripes in Black?

Mari: It changes every day! That’s why I identify so much with zebras. What is a zebra all about? We’ll never know! It’s a fun mystery.

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: What do you enjoy more? Writing or Illustrating?

Mari: Writing is my first true love and I consider myself a writer above all…but illustrating is more relaxing. It’s a calming hobby, whereas writing is more of a fiery passion. Illustrating is like being in a bathtub and writing is like running through the forest. Not that I know much about that.

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: Apart from writing and illustrating, what keeps you busy in life?

Mari: Dancing! I love taking samba and salsa lessons and going out dancing whenever I can. I also love spending time with my friends, who are all very creative and funny and give me lots of ideas. Things that keep me busy that I don’t love are dating, cleaning, and going to the post office.

Today I turn 30 😎🎂

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: How is your personality reflected in your work?

Mari: I can’t separate my personality from my work – it’s the same! I draw (and write) directly from my life experiences. I think my style of drawing also suits my personality too; it’s playful and simple and not at all perfect.

Bonus Mari illustration today (and every Friday) on cupofjo.com :)

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: How do you overcome creative blocks?

Mari: I just keep going! I don’t get blocks too often because I draw from my life and there’s always fresh material, but there are times when I want to give up because of harsh criticism or the difficulties of putting yourself out there in public (trolls!). Whenever this happens, I always decide to keep going and soon enough I’m not bothered anymore.

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: If you could illustrate the most memorable moment of your life, what will it be?

Mari: My most memorable moment of life was when I was on top of a mountain in Brazil falling in love with a guy who had to leave for Mexico in an hour. Not sure how I would illustrate that…maybe me with giant hearts for eyes? Sadly, a month after that memorable moment, that same guy inspired this one.


A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: What is your perception of the perfect love story that empowers a woman?

Mari: A perfect love story is one where both people are individuals with their own thing going on, and able to respect the other’s gifts and grow as they learn from each other. This is very much something I have with my female friends, but I’ve yet to experience that ideal romantic relationship for myself.

Note to self: Beware of clouds

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: If your boyfriend was a city, which city would you like him to be?

Mari: Mmm… maybe Lisbon! Artistic, easy to get along with, likable, friendly, fascinating, beautiful!

No shade, these are all my dream cities. But I think I'm ready for…Beirut.

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: What all things can we find on your work table?

Mari: About 5 different types of beverages, a cheap watercolor set, expensive paper, journals, a little stuffed cat, and lots of rough drafts.

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: What does the toolbox of women should contain?

Mari: Ways to stand up for themselves, “Stop interrupting,” “Ahem,” “I’d like to say something,” “I disagree with you.”

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: What is that one social media trend you love to ridicule in your illustrations?

Mari: When people act like they’re ashamed of selfies! I see a lot of selfies that begin with an apology: “I don’t usually do this but…” Just own it, girl!

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: What is the one social issue that irritates you the most?

Mari: I cannot stand any form of xenophobia.

Day 3 in Rio and I've met all these folks a few times

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: Your day as directed by:


Mari: The soundtrack is just a man’s voice telling me all of his opinions without taking a moment to ask about mine.


A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on


Mari: Getting to wear/say/do what I want freely and joyfully.


A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Indian Chai:

Mari: Cozy, calm, ambrosial.

Seeing a butterfly on the street always feels surprising and lovely and poignant

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: What are the three types of people not worth impressing?

Mari: Internet trolls, people who don’t take the time to listen, and guys who don’t make you feel like a goddess.

Tough crowd

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: What is the most embarrassing food you’ve eaten in public?

Mari: A piece of cake that I had thrown away and then retrieved from the trash can (it was pretty clean).

*I understand*

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: How will you illustrate the voting fever in America?

Mari: I don’t know yet! Whenever I draw something sad or stressful, it’s because I’ve already worked through it emotionally. I haven’t worked through this election–it’s too intense! I think I need some distance first. Can’t wait for it to be over.

Okay U.S. citizens we have a job to do 👉🏽 iwillvote.com

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

Me: Out of all the illustrations you’ve made which one is your favorite?

Mari: A recent favorite is this. It’s very personal and gives me some hope. Although hope keeps getting me into trouble!

This is no way to live, and I'm working on it 🙏🏼

A photo posted by Mari Andrew (@bymariandrew) on

I definitely don’t want to miss out on any Mari Andrew illustration and if you want the same too, do give her a follow here!

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