#MECCAconWeekly w/ Arie Monroe

On this week’s #MECCAconWeekly, I was lucky enough to scoop up one of my favorite artists, the lovely spirited Arie Monroe. Monroe, a pretty well known artist, caricaturist, and animator, has been putting in massive work in this industry, quiet but poignant. She reminds me of a ninja in many ways, to be honest, lol. I was more than happy to take time to give someone an interview who lived inside humble energy. Monroe is very known for not only her caricatures, but her sexy pin ups and her respect for all things full figured women. She draws them respectfully, with about 3/4 cup of funk on the side. 
Name::
Arie Monroe

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Company/Occupation(s)::
Draw Like Crazy Studios LLC
BOOKS/ SERIES you’ve created and/or worked on::
Big Booty Jane , Tornado Alley
What I’ve always loved about your art is that you show how beautiful plus sized women are, yet don’t make it clownish. What made you decide that it was important for you to be a visual vessel?::
I have always loved drawing and creating. I started when I was a kid and just never stopped. I use to spend hours creating worlds and characters in my head and then drawing them. My biggest inspirations were TENT and THE LITTLE MERMAID. Animation was my biggest influence and the closest thing to my heart. I loved the fluidity of movement and action. It was hypnotizing. As I got older, I wanted a career in the field but as with all things, your vision and goals can change. 

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Your character, BIG BOOTY JANE, gets a lot of play on my social media sites, lol. She is thick, she is hot, and she is extremely unapologetic. Will you ever turn her into a series?::
I have been working on a pinup calendar for Big Booty Jane. I was inspired when I saw a calendar for a character called Hilda. I had never seen a calendar where a larger sized woman was being celebrated and shown having fun and being cute before that.
Not long after I realized she existed, I was commissioned to draw a plus sized character who was cooking. I started playing around with multiple ideas. (I was given free range to do what ever I wanted for the person). Before I knew it, Big Booty Jane was looking back at me.
She really has a mind of her own. She told me who she was and what she did, and didn’t apologize for being herself. Not too long after that, Smut Peddler came along and showed itself as the perfect platform to tell her story. I sent in my submission and was amazed when it was accepted.

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It’s was such a exciting and challenging experience to write her story and I definitely want to do many many more stories with her. I have been astounded by the response many have had to Big Booty Jane.
The other day, I was paying my rent and my land lord looked as me and said, ” can you make me Big Booty Jane?” We had a great laugh after that and I told her she might show up as a villain in Jane’s story.
Have you ever gotten any negative feedback with her, and if so, how do you handle it?::
I did get a little bit of negative feed back online actually but honestly not much. I once had a guy tell me he didn’t like the character cause she was fat and then accuse me of not being open to critique. That was a weird conversation cause by the end of it he admitted that he liked the art work just not the size of the character.

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Then another person criticized that the character was not a good representation of black women and that they didn’t see how Jane was a good thing cause she felt Jane objectified black women. It’s was something even I had thought about before, but then I asked myself, is it objectification if you are expressing yourself and if the character you are creating has a strong personality and is expressing herself as a strong and sexy self loving individual? One thing that was a key to me was that even though Jane fell into the adult fiction side, she had to be married and madly in love with her husband.
I had no interest in creating a character that had no personality, and that did anything with anyone. She was supposed to represent a real woman. I think that is why so many people have fallen for her.
What was your favorite comic book series as a child, and did it influence your art into adulthood?::
I loved X-Men, but most of my influence came from animation. I didn’t even know TMNT was a comic until I was old enough to seek out and walk into a comic shop. Until I was in my early 20’s, I had never really read comics other than what you could find in the grocery store or on a gas station store magazine rack.

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My interest really peaked when I was working at an amusement park drawing caricatures and one of the new people hired there was a comic artist, Mike Worley, for the Simpsons. He invited me to a local drawing group called Kansas City Comic Creators Network and it was through that group that my real interest in comics began. Because of them I attended my first comic book show and learned about the local comic book shops.

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After being in that group and meeting so many great people I decided to go back to school for comics and animation and moved to NJ to attend the Joe Kubert School for 2 years. I wanted to study comics and animation and their program offered both so I felt it would be the perfect place for me.
Out of all of your pieces, which has been your favorite to create, and why?::
Interesting question. I have never thought about my own artwork or having a favorite of my own art. For many year, I was extremely self conscience about everything I made. Feeling like my drawing was not good enough or that people would not like it, and being scared to really share it with people cause I didn’t think anyone else would like or care about it.
I did however really want to learn and improve and saw the Internet as a great place to get feed back so I posted my stuff on websites like deviantart.
However of all the characters I have created Mainasha is my favorite. I make her when I was 16 and I image if she were my child she would be at least 20 years old now. She always ends up acting in a way as a voice for me. I often draw her when I have a emotion or feeling I want to get out.

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Your company, DRAW LIKE CRAZY, has gotten a lot of positive buzz. I find it refreshing to see a sista be successful in the art of caricaturing, being that it is mostly known for men.::
DrawLikeCrazy Studios LLC really only got formed officially in the last few months. Though I have used the title for a long time for both my caricatures and illustration work. I made up my mind I wanted to get recognized as a fully functioning business and started doing caricatures online and at events after returning from LA to my hometown in Kansas City Missouri.

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Do you think that in the years to come, you will raise your EXTREMELY AFFORDABLE prices?::
I have been learning a great deal about pricing what it means to work as a freelance caricature artist as well as how different studio caricature work is from amusement park caricature work. So when I first set my pricing I was using the amusement park caricature model.
The flaw with that is that in amusement parks the pricing can be set low but the customer gets what they get. There just isn’t time for a person to be picky about what they receive cause there is a line behind them. If a person doesn’t like the art they can get a fast redraw or they just don’t buy it at all.

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Working from the studio is a whole other beast though. So in the short answer, yes my prices will be changing. Drasticlly! As soon as I am able to get my new website is functioning, all my prices will more than double.
I thought that even doing digital caricatures verses traditional painted ones would be easier but to be honest it is sometimes more labor intensive.

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I am recognizing the importance or organization and time as a business owner, and over the course of this first year I hope to streamline how things are run so I can be more focused and produce not just caricature commissions but also much more original content with own characters.
Your character MAINASHA has always been interesting. Where did you come up with her? Is she part of a comic book series to come?::
As I mentioned before, Mainasha has been around since I was 16. She has always been sort of an outlet for me and I have used her as a mascot for drawlikecrazy in the past as well. She actually has 2 separate stories. She has Tornado Alley, which is more of a comic strip format where she is a chibi version of herself. Then there is another story called Quiet Storm where she is drawn as a full sized character and she is a college student.

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Besides caricatures, what other forms of drawing do you enjoy?::
To me cartoons are a caricature of life. It all runs together. I love figure, and gesture drawing and exaggeration. So even when I am drawing a landscape it just doesn’t get comfortable for me until it becomes a caricature of that landscape.

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What is your take on the current hottest topic in the comic book world: DIVERSITY? Does it effect what YOU are doing?::
Diversity in comics is a funny thing to me because as a black woman that makes comics, I AM the diversity. I just don’t relate to comics the same way as the mainstream audience might because Superman’s story is not my own, nor  is Batman’s. I do enjoy the stories, though.
I think that right now, with the explosion of comics and anime into mainstream people producing the products are seeing that there is money in putting more variety into the industry. There is a out pouring of cries for new and different and especially more relatable content on the Internet and as a result the mainstream is slowly answering the call.
Just 5 years ago you couldn’t find natural hair care product on a self in the store for example. It had to be special ordered. But I was in Walgreens and there was a whole section with a big variety of products to sort through.
The Internet is really changing and influencing everything and the reaction has been to follow Internet trends and make them mainstream especially if it makes money. I think the diversity has always been there it’s just getting more attention now cause the demand is being seen.
What was your experience like being a part of the anthology, SMUT PEDDLER? The name is completely divine, lol::
Loved it. Was a blast to be apart of and am honored I was chosen.
How did you get into animation? Are you working on any upcoming projects?::
My interests in animation have begun to change as my priorities in life have changed and evolved. I still love it but I can’t say for sure what a career in animation really holds for me. At the moment it is more of a fun hobby.
Do you or do you not feel that culturally driven comic book conventions are necessary?::
Absolutely! It’s honestly a very small market from what I can tell though it is growing. I think all creators need a place to go and shine and share what they have created with the audience that directly relates to them. There is no better way to do that. I think it would be cool to see an all women’s comic book convention with only female creators work featured.
L to R:: N Steven Harris, Turtel Onli, Arie Momroe, Eric Battle, Afua Richardson.

L to R:: N Steven Harris, Turtel Onli, Arie Momroe, Eric Battle, Afua Richardson.

Do you think that sexism exists in comic book industry? (I will ask this every week, America, so deal with it, lol)::
Lol! Comics, as well as, games, have been a boys club for a long time. And for a long time the books created were intently to cater to that. Girls are invading the boys clubhouse and some of them react with hostility and often unwanted sexual advances.
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What do you feel needs to be changed in order for the advancement of women in your industry?::
More women making more comics in their own voice will automatically advance the industry for us. It’s happening all rounds us. The change has already started.

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Ok, less serious stuff- if you could have ANNNNY two characters be your homies in REAL time, who would they be and WHY?::
Sesshomeru, because he would make a kick ass friend. Even if he kills people, as long as he is on my side. Michelangelo, cause we could goofy off together.
What television or movie siren best captures the energy of Arie Monroe?::
Ranma 1/2 it’s crazy and zany and fun, and often makes no since but it’s still sexy at the same time. He brings the best of both worlds and a guy or a girl.
Where can we find you online? Links, Handles, Hashtags, Bribes::
http://www.drawlikecrazy.net
Arie Monroe on Facebook or https://www.facebook.com/DrawLikeCrazyStudios
Support Big Booty Jane and Mainasha on my Patreon if you want to see them grow and develop. https://www.patreon.com/ArieMonroe
I am also on deviantart. Www. mainasha.deviantart.com
I also have a YouTube channel.
https://m.youtube.com/user/Thatmainchick

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Any last thoughts, screams, rants, praises, etc?::
Sure, I would say that as a artist always do what you love and don’t be afraid to share it with as many people as you can. You never know who might benefit from what you do. We all got great things to offer.
Thanks for interviewing me!

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___________________________
MECCAcon Weekly is a weekly series of features, interviews, and highlights, all focused around comics and art, mainly centered around the AFRIKAAN diaspora community. We focus on the upliftment and advancement of arts thru various mediums. #MECCAconWeekly can also be found on our sister site, DARK MATTERS.
MECCAconWeekly is also a division of Midwest Ethnic Convention for Comics and Arts – MECCAcon. MECCAcon is an annual convention every SEPTEMBER, located in Detroit, MI.
“BLOOM WHERE YOU’RE PLANTED” …This is my motto. Whatever environment you come from, whatever your surroundings or financial circumstance, there is ALWAYS room to grow, flourish, and BLOOM.
Maia Williams, also known as “Crown”, is executive assistant to many different businesses, artists, and events in the Metro Detroit area. Crown is also CEO and founder of
Amonyet Enterprises, Cooking Ciphers, MECCAcon, and Crown’s Royalties.
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One response to “#MECCAconWeekly w/ Arie Monroe

  1. Pingback: This Week’s MECCAcon Weekly Interview: Arie Monroe! | Dark Matters·

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