See you, space cowboy…
On an isolated, way too hot afternoon in late August 2020, I felt my heart clench at the audacity of an email appearing in my inbox. I had received a volunteer callout email from the Martlet to my UVic email. It asked for comic and graphic volunteers, stating artwork would be included in the university’s independent student newspaper.
I had just moved to Victoria from my teeny-tiny hometown, 100 Mile House, a month prior to beginning my degree. I had no friends and was totally alone. I graduated from high school alone in my room, and then did my first year alone in my room.
But what a cool opportunity! So I emailed back. I thought the occasional drawing could help me stay occupied, get my name out, and maybe meet some people amidst the pandemic.
A month later, I was offered a position as the Martlet’s design director.
And, of course, I called my parents, cried a little, and accepted the offer.
As a Queer illustrator from the middle of nowhere, my craft was severely misunderstood, disvalued, and cringeworthy. I was absolutely floored and overwhelmed that someone wanted me, a totally scared 17-year-old, for such a cool position — they saw something in Sie!
I had absolutely no idea how much fun I’d have.
Thanks to my time here, I’ve been able to grow exponentially as an artist and mentor, and I am very grateful for that. I owe a whole lot to this little footless bird. I have always wanted to work in arts and be the tutor I never had growing up. I’m so thankful for the chance to design for 57 issues, three editors-in-chief, and around 30 staff writers and editors.
That’s a lot of people! And a lot of freaking drawings!!!!! Not to mention that I even got to write a couple times!
I’m very lucky to have been able to work with so many lovely people and help visualize their stories. Everyone has always been so kind and co-operative, and have had so many great ideas. A writer even surprised me with a cake for my birthday once; nobody other than my parents had ever done that for me before.
Thanks to my experience here, I’ve been given multiple contracts and opportunities, including published illustrations, art shows, having my own booth at conventions, and even having my art on Dragon’s Den with Acrylic Robotics. I’m doing things I was told I never would and never believed I could, but strived to do out of pure spite. I’m literally living my silly little artist dreams. The other skills I’ve developed have allowed me to become more confident in my work, myself, and in connecting with people again.
Having been here for almost exactly three years, as I enter the final year of my degree, art and journalism are coming to a crucial point in history with the rise of AI, especially for student journalism.
More than anything, I am grateful to use this platform to stress the increasing importance of the rights of artists and journalists: Artists and writers deserve to be respected, work in safe environments, and, more than anything, to be paid — I refuse to be gentle about that. The future of art and journalism has become terrifying and uncertain, but we are a crucial part of society and the human experience. I truly believe we will always remain.
So, thank you, Martlet, for giving me a chance and showing me what I am capable of. I am ready to fly, but your hospitality is what allowed me to spread my wings. Thank you, volunteers and contributors, for drawing for me, listening to me recruit you, and reading my silly little pitch emails. It has been a pleasure.
And, of course, thank you, Martlet readers, for looking at and enjoying my art. That alone is more than I could ever ask for, and it means the world to me.
From this very tired, determined little artist from the middle of nowhere: goodbye for now. Drink water, be kind to yourself, and tell your friends you love them.
With lots of love,