Name: Marie Purdie
Freelance Artist of Drawn by Mary
Where you can find her: @drawnbymary drawnbymary.com, patreon.com/drawnbymary
The first post I ever came across by Mary was an illustration of a doormat that stated “You don’t have to figure anything out” I loved the composition, but I was drawn to the caption, where she discussed her battles and surrendering. She was enduring a recent cancer diagnosis, on top of recovering from multiple miscarriages. It struck me because at the time I felt like I was enduring hardships of my own, like my own world was ending.
All the while, Mary continued to create, to inspire, to tack on bigger clients, bigger projects. I began to question my own concept of adversity, I always thought of cancer as being an end all be all. Not in terms of life, I have family members and friends that have survived it, but as far as dreams and forging new ones. I always saw it as a time everything would have to be put on hold. But Mary faced it head on, growing through it and inspiring so many creatively, and emotionally.
Two posters she designed were included in the "Hear Our Voice" 2017 national exhibition from Amplifier Foundation in partnership with the Women's March. She collaborated with OkCupid on a campaign about dating in the digital age, which was made even more incredible because she met her husband on OkCupid. She designed a mural for TridentVIBES that was displayed on Venice Beach. And her illustrations are featured in a World Health Organization story about miscarriage and baby loss. She’s partnered with brands including POPSUGAR and so many more and did a whole series on positive affirmations she hashtagged #decembertobetender.
How much effect, if any, has your gender had on your path to success, specifically in your field?
I think the biggest impact being a woman has had on my success is that I had to learn to sort of boss up and assert myself. From the time we are children, society conditions women to be more submissive and accommodating. So when it comes to negotiating a fee for a project, for example, my natural instinct has been to lowball my price, especially for projects that I really want to work on. I've felt very much like, "How can I make myself the most attractive candidate for this project so they don't pass on me?" And I would be passive and bending over backwards to secure the contract. So many times I'd be drafting a response to a potential client who asked me for a quote and I'd be so nervous, thinking, "Is my fee too high?" and feeling anxious to hit send. Those habits are behind me. I've had discussions with my husband who is also a successful designer, and he would listen to me worry about these things and say to me, "A man would never worry about this." And that was always a lightbulb moment to hear him remind me of that. Like, why am I worried about charging what I'm worth? Because I don't want to be seen as a woman who is confident in her skills and demanding a fee that matches that? It's so twisted. It's taken a lot of practice to unlearn those behaviors. Now I don't think twice about it. Every project has to be worth it for me to put my time and energy into. If a client doesn't want to meet me where I'm at, then we probably shouldn't work together and that's okay. I never feel bad anymore about passing on a project that isn't mutually beneficial.
What does success look like to you?
Success is getting to do work that I wholeheartedly enjoy, work that motivates me and pushes me to be a better artist. Success is getting to work on projects that are meaningful to me and build relationships with clients where we can learn from each other. When I graduated college with a design degree, I expected my career path to go very differently. I thought I'd have a full-time design job and work my way up. That didn't happen for me. In fact it took me a decade to actually find my sweet spot. Sharing my work on social media has opened a lot of doors. Four years ago I was doing daily doodles on Instagram, and now I'm freelancing full-time for various clients, working on projects that excite me. It's a dream come true.
Any opinions or advice, on balancing relationships or having a family VS. the perception of the public of women choosing success or love?
I find it so ridiculous that the public perception is one or the other, success or love. We can always have both, we can have everything we want. I think the most important thing to remember is that there is no set timeline, despite what society tells us. My story is interesting, a super bumpy road to get where I am, but there are lessons to be learned from how I got to where I am in my career. After I got married in 2015, all I wanted was to stop everything and become a mom. I was creating and illustrating but I wasn't seeking any sort of career out of it. I only wanted to start a family, and I was willing to toss aside any career dreams I had held for the past 10 years. Sadly, I wasn't able to have a baby. We suffered several miscarriages and as painful as it was, it fueled my creative journey. I loosened my grip on my desperation to start a family and decided to just do what I love and let the rest relax for awhile. And I think that's the lesson here. I needed to follow my joy, which is creating beautiful and meaningful art, and let my path guide me, instead of forcing it to go a certain way. Everything you want out of life, whether it's love or family or career, will come in due time. Our only job is to follow the most joyful path for ourselves.
How do you remain committed to yourself and your goals? What does it look like?
I struggle with balancing my work and making time for myself. Sometimes I am so overwhelmed with everything I want to do, write, create, that I can't bring myself to step away to even have a meal. It's exciting, because I'm so committed to pushing myself further to accomplishing everything I dream of. But I have to consciously say to myself, "You have to take a break now," and giving myself time to do something else: talk a walk, eat lunch somewhere other than my desk, take a yoga class, run a bath, hang out with my husband. Getting into regular habits and planning my breaks is essential, as is making lists. I thrive on to-do lists. It keeps my goals in check, and it helps me feel at ease so that I can take those breaks without feeling too much mental chaos.
What is your "why" ?
I feel like I was made to do this work, to not only create art but share stories and inspire and connect with others. It doesn't feel like work, it feels like it's my purpose and I would feel incomplete if I couldn't put it all out into the world.
How much of your success Do you attribute to your "tribe" Or Circle? What does yours look Like?
I attribute so much to my husband, family, and close friends who supported me from the beginning when I was selling $3 prints on Etsy. They are the people who supported me by sharing and buying my work, and helping me come up with new ideas and challenges to move forward in becoming a better artist. And I am so thankful to everyone who follows and shares my work, comments, and sends me messages. It's so vulnerable to put my work and words out there for all to witness and I get so much love, encouragement, and connections in return. It is the most motivating reward.
What has contributed most to your growth as an artist.
I think being really raw and creating from that place has helped me grow the most. Nothing is forced when I'm creating from my heart, and my work flows so much more easily. Trying out new techniques and styles is also a really great way to grow. Not every experiment is a winner but it helps to evolve my work to keep pushing out of my comfort zones.
What is the most valuable lesson you have learned in the past year?
Surrender. I thought my life would look very different, and I had to go through a lot of terrifying and heartbreaking experiences to finally learn to give up my tendency to want to control everything. It's simple, but doing what makes me happy is the ultimate lesson, and surrendering the rest. I don't need to know when or how the next phases of my life will unfold. I just need to do what makes my soul happy in this moment.
What prompted you to share the less glamorous, but real parts of your life and how was it received?
It was scary at first to share so much about my personal life, but I feel that I didn't have a choice because it was more painful to keep it all inside. Even for the weeks between being diagnosed with breast cancer and sharing that with the world, I was aching. It hurt to have this secret and put up a front online like everything was normal. I was crying out for support. I couldn't escape my hard realities, and creating art was therapeutic. I figured if it was helping me, it would help others, and I was right. I received a tidal wave of love and encouragement from friends and strangers alike. People appreciate honesty and I love that.
I think your work is accentuated by your vulnerability but not defined by it. Have you struggled at all with creating boundaries because of what you've chosen to share?
Yes, there have been times when I've gotten upsetting messages by "well-meaning" strangers and I had to set tighter boundaries. Sharing our journey with miscarriage and freezing embryos for the future before I endured chemotherapy has invited a lot of, "why don't you adopt?" messages, as if any decision in this area was made lightly or without extensive research. Sharing that I was going through conventional cancer treatment invited unsolicited advice about "natural remedies" that would supposedly cure my cancer. It irritates me but I try to give people the benefit of the doubt. I had an internal conflict, wanting to argue and defend my choices, and also thinking that just because I am open and vulnerable doesn't mean I owe anyone further insight into my decisions. I created a piece that said, "You don't owe anyone an explanation" and that was one way of setting boundaries online. It resonated with a lot of people.