Each year STAPLE! brings over 200 artists and creators under one roof for the celebration of independent media.

It is one of the few long-standing events in Austin that highlights independently produced comics, zines, art, crafts and games alongside educational panels and workshops. We interviewed three artists from 2019’s expo, Monica Gallagher, Jae Lin and Evan Narcisse, to gain insight about their process and see firsthand how their creations come to life.

Monica Gallagher
How do you start creating a piece?

I start with some inkling of an idea that I’ve scribbled down in my sketchbook that may or may not make sense, like “Dinosaur Pizza Party”. If I come back to the idea several times, it’ll be more fleshed out before I start putting pencil to paper. But whether or not a particular idea is fully outlined, it is guaranteed to change a lot. That’s one of my favorite things about creating—how the things we create take on a life of their own, and oftentimes tell you what they want to do.

You’re now a full time artist! Has extra time affected your process?

It’s been amazing getting to do creative projects full time. It’s given me freedom in scheduling which projects I can take on. It can be difficult when all of your time is mixed use work and free time. It helps to still make schedules so that you won’t drive yourself crazy with nonstop work.

Death is a Mean Girl (Process) - Monica Gallagher
Death is a Mean Girl (Process) – Monica Gallagher
What are some of the techniques you use if you hit a mental block?

The best way I’ve found is to step away for a little bit. Take a walk, do some house cleaning, and your brain will keep running in the background. Once you return to the piece, you’ll see it with fresh eyes and be able to approach it differently.

How do you put a feminist spin on your work?

I look to see if I’m giving all the characters agency. Are they all equally fleshed out? Do they have distinct voices? Since feminism means equality, it’s important that I’m treating all my characters with care and consideration, no matter their age/gender/sexuality/how similar they are to me.

Death is a Mean Girl - Monica Gallagher
Death is a Mean Girl – Monica Gallagher
Do you think it’s important for artists to share their work in progress?

Absolutely! There’s always a temptation to only share the perfect, finished work but I’ve learned that I’m not the only one who loves looking at process—lots of people want a peek behind the scenes. Plus, it’s a great way for artists to maintain that sense of community with one another, swap ideas, and feel like you’re part of something larger.

What is the best part about participating in STAPLE!?

I’ve loved coming to STAPLE! for a few years now, but just recently moved to Austin, so now it’s my new local show! Plus the creators and fans are all ridiculously nice and fun, so it’s always a guaranteed good time.

SUPPORT Monica & CHECK OUT MORE Comics & Illustrations!

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