A few weeks ago we came across this super RAD comic strip. We were immediately taken by the simplicity of its message, one that we often forget… whatever your choices may be when it comes to how you look, “That’s Rad, You’re Rad”!
Of course we couldn’t just run the image, we needed to know who was behind it, and how it all came about. Introducing illustrator and cartoonist extraordinaire, Penny. Yep, just Penny.
In addition to her impressive artistic talent, Penny has an equally engaging sense of humor. It’s a very WYSKy combination. We caught up with her to learn more about the illustration and her overall awesomeness.
There isn’t much on your website about “who you are”, can you tell us a bit about yourself?
PC: I’m just a small time girl, living in a lonely worldddd…I mean, I’m Penny, an illustrator from the good ol’ US of A. Though not formally trained, I’ve been drawing since I was a child and growing my skillset bit by bit over the years. I got my first graphics tablet at the tender age of 13 and ever since then I’ve been totally in love with digital art! I’ve been working as a freelance artist since 2008 in some capacity or another, but I feel like I’m just getting started on my journey to being a real pro.
What was your inspiration for the super RAD comic?
“Only you should decide how you want your body to look and feel.”PC: The specific concept for my “That’s Rad, You’re Rad,” comic came to me suddenly one afternoon (probably after watching too much TV, lots of body shaming going on there, ugh), but it’s an idea I think about all the time. Growing up, I feel like girls in our country are inundated with mixed messages about their bodies and how we should present ourselves. We’re told to make ourselves prettier, but if we spend time on our appearance we’re told we’re shallow and vain. We’re told that to be ladylike we must never show too much skin, but if we don’t show enough we’re prudes. We’re told that our natural bodies are not good enough, or even gross. We’re told that we mustn’t be too fat, we mustn’t be too thin, and we mustn’t have too much muscle. It’s really ridiculous, and unfortunately we women actually perpetuate these harmful ideas ourselves a lot of the time. My “That’s Rad, You’re Rad,” comic came out of the idea that only you should decide how you want your body to look and feel. However you like to present yourself, that’s rad.
What is your definition of feminism? Do you consider yourself a feminist?
PC: Feminism for me means equality for everyone, female, male, or non-binary, regardless of race, religion, age, sexual orientation. Feminism is a way to sucker punch misogyny and corrode patriarchal ideals until we can all just be accepted and cherished as people – regardless of gender or other status. I think as a heterosexual woman myself I tend to focus more readily on CIS women’s issues, but I truly believe that feminism benefits everyone.
What do you love most about what you do?
PC: It’s hard to say what I love most about creating art, since the process is so rewarding in so many ways. I do have to say that being able to create a visual of whatever I want on a whim – characters, story concepts, or comics – is pretty great. I have the ability to make an idea come alive, so to speak, with just a few strokes of my pen. Even after all these years doing what I do, it’s still really cool!
There has been a lot of online media attention about the lack of women represented in comics, video games, etc. Have you experienced any workplace gender discrimination?
PC: Thankfully, I’ve never been subject to any sort of discrimination that I know of, thanks to the warm, thoughtful clients I’ve worked with so far. I’m sure there are plenty of unsavory characters in every industry, but so far I haven’t encountered any personally. I hope the greater discussion about discriminatory practices and raised awareness in general about the lack of positions for women in traditionally male-dominated industries is taking effect, though. Maybe I’m overly optimistic, but perhaps small-timers like me will be able to grow into their industry of choice without ever encountering misogynistic obstacles from here on out!
Any tips for other women who may want to get into the biz?
PC: Honestly, I’m barely in “the biz” myself, but I’ll happily share what seems to work for me so far. First, put yourself out there and make yourself available. Post your art frequently and start growing your audience however you can, via a portfolio, blog, social media – whatever you can think of. Also, be true to yourself – create the art that you want to create, not what you feel is popular or expected. Eventually the “right” people will stumble on your work!
What can we expect to see from you next?
PC: Right now I’m currently the moderator for an up-and-coming weekly comics group called Comix Warriors, which encourages artists of all skill levels to use comics as a storytelling medium. We just passed 6 months in operation and I am thrilled with the participation we’ve had so far! I’m also in the late development stages of a brand new all-ages webcomic titled Witchlette!, which focuses on a young witch trying to figure out her place in a modern magical world. I’m hoping to launch Witchlette! as a weekly comic very soon, so be on the lookout.