1. What’s your story? Where are you from?
My name is Molly Mendoza. I was born just outside of Chicago, Illinois. I lived in Surprise, Arizona from high school till I started college. I moved out to Portland, Oregon for art school and wound up sticking around. My personal story is a pendulum swing between me getting all tangled in some dumb drama and being holed up in my room playing video games.
2. Tell us about your aesthetic.
I think my aesthetic is very crayola crayon melted all over concrete under the hot sun. I love bold colors, energetic patterns but I also really dig moments of still and quiet. There also is always a little burn or sting. I think that sort of describes my work in some ways too.
3. What is your favourite medium and why?
My favorite medium is sumi ink. I just love the way it lays into the page and working with brush allows me to express moods through strokes. It’s also easy to manipulate and it smells kind of nice too.
4. What is your artistic process like?
Well, it doesn’t always come naturally when I want it to. A lot of times I really have to be feeling the energy of whatever I am working on. So much of my own personal emotion goes into the process. It’s not like I am crying right onto the page or anything but I just need to be in the right headspace to work on certain topics. I get in the right headspace through music or reading. Sometimes the best headspace is after taking some R&R time with friends and family. Technically speaking my process involves drawing the image using brush and sumi ink. After I finish the image I scan it into the computer and work at it digitally using photoshop.
5. Who and/or what inspires your work?
I am really inspired by the people and places that I interact with on a day to day. The relationships that I build with others or the relationships that they share amongst themselves inform the personality in my work quite a bit. For instance, I made a comic called The Worst for Zainab Akhtar’s Shortbox. In this comic two girls on a swim team have a toxic friendship that deteriorates further and further over the course of the story. Their falling out is told from the perspective of their peers via gossip. I know this is something that a lot of us have experienced whether we are the ones spilling the gossip or we are the ones getting our dirty laundry aired out. I have been on both sides and I remember the relationships I sadly ended or the interactions I spectated. Neither of those experiences felt good but that feeling put me in the place to make the comic and develop those characters.
6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?
Art, for me, can act like a tool that I use to reach out to people. Sometimes it is easier for me to express how I feel with a comic or a drawing versus actually saying it out loud. That might be a little corny but I have found that when I get to have a conversation about what was made with someone suddenly we are talking more in depth about the topic and its surrounding topics. I feel the same about other people’s art. They are these little pieces of themselves and by engaging with their work I feel like I can get a glimpse of what they are thinking or feeling.
7. Where did you study?
I studied at Estrella Mountain Community College doing photography under Peter Bugg. He really took me under his wing for a long while and had me help him with installations. It was awesome because I got to learn so much about art practice and gallery work by working alongside him. When I moved to Portland I studied at Pacific Northwest College of Art. I went in thinking I was going to do GFA but I decided to go with Illustration and see what happens. I am happy I did! I thankfully got to take other classes outside of illustration while I was there and experiment with different mediums and processes. My professors were awesome and all of them really helped me develop a critical eye in regards to my own work but also the tools to engage artwork out in the world.
8. Where do you see yourself in five years?
I am still making things and maybe I am not in a studio apartment anymore!
9. What about in ten?
I am making even bigger things and I have more than one bedroom in my apartment! WHAT!! Also my looks are on point and fully realized at this phase in my life.
10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?
My art is always trying to talk to someone. Sometimes I think the comics that I have made are me trying to talk to myself when I was younger, my sister, my friends all of the people I grew up with. It’s trying to say “Hey you’re not alone. What you feel isn’t weird - it’s valid.” However, I can’t talk to them – the past is the past. So instead I am reaching out to people now who may have had similar experiences growing up or may be experiencing those things now. I hope that my work brings a comfort to people but also emboldens them in their future endeavors.
11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?
I know my “brand” is that I love hot dogs and it is true I LOVE HOT DOGS but I think my favorite food as of late has been egg on rice. When I was in college my roommat and wonderful designer, Erica Larson showed me how to eat cheaply with a fried egg on rice. She helped me not burn the rice and make sure the egg was super runny. Years later I went on a trip to Tokyo and I had raw egg for the first time on rice. It was so delicious and it brought me back to little me, uncertain, barely can take care of themselves, etc. I was like “Wow! Look at you now, Mendoza!”
12. Favourite book?
That is so difficult to answer why do you have to do this to me. I’ll have to go with my favorite manga which is One Piece. One Piece is super good - and although I have definitely read other things that are amazing and astounding and made me look into my very person - I have been reading this comic for 13 years now and I know I am going to be a wreck when Luffy and co. finish their adventure. They are all my friends.
13. Favourite genre of music?
I really love R&B, Hip Hop, Rap, and Electronic music. I dig folk/alternative too. But if we are talking karaoke then there is only one genre and it is The Killers Mr. Brightside.
14. What are your hobbies?
I really love talking to my brother and sister. I also love playing D&D, grinding on Monster Hunter, filling shopping carts online, beer, watching sport anime, and goofing off with my friends.
15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?
I would be all of your wildest dreams come true.