One on One with Maritza Lugo: HelloGiggles’ Illustrator Extraordinaire

For those of you who don’t know, and come on, you’re on this site all the time so you totally know… Maritza Lugo is HelloGiggles’ illustrator extraordinaire. She’s responsible for the always funny, always on point, always relevant Illustrated Tweet of The Day, as well as the illustrations for HG’s UCB Comedy Nights and some article illustrations, too. I’ve gotten to know Maritza on a personal level, and she is an amazing, funny, uber-talented woman with some pretty incredible things coming up in her life. Maritza’s work will be showcased in the Bear and Bird Boutique + Gallery’s Starter Art from April 26 – June 23, 2013 (more information can be found here).

Maritza does more than just draw for HelloGiggles, though. She also has a blog called I’m Terribly Awkward with Boys, recounting trials, tribulations and heartbreak with the opposite sex. If you haven’t checked it out, you are seriously missing out on some great work! Maritza has a way of really boiling down the existence of the young modern female in a true to life way, while still maintaining her wicked sense of humor. I am very lucky to call her a friend!

We had a lovely chat about her blog, her inspirations, her aspirations and how she got involved with HelloGiggles as their in-house artist.

When did you start drawing?

I’ve been drawing since before I can even remember. It’s all I’ve ever wanted to and it’s the thing I’ve loved the most. When I was three I took a pen to my mother’s high school yearbook picture and still have not lived it down.

Who was your artistic inspiration when you started drawing? Has it changed over time?

What really got me practicing more or honing on fine-tuning my stick figures as a kid were the Archie comics my grandmother would buy me in the supermarket. Particularly Betty & Veronica. I saw them and really wanted to be them. They were these cool, popular girls..and their clothes! Once I was hooked, I started out by tracing them and then drawing them freehand. That’s how I learned how to draw girls. My biggest influences are comic books, pop art, and Roy Lichtenstein. One of the first books I ever owned was this children’s guide to Lichtenstein and I instantly fell in love. He’s my biggest influence, and my favorite artist.

How has your style evolved?

I get asked this a lot on tumblr/twitter/etc and I always say the same thing: Practice. I constantly think of that one question: How do you get to Carnegie Hall? And it’s really true. I vividly remember drawing blobs/stick figures as a child, and now I’m much, much farther than that. It takes a lot of hard work and again, practice. It’s all very broken record of me, but you can’t jump from point A to Z. No one starts out as a Pro, and it will take someone to get to that level, and even then you have to keep working to better it.

My style evolves by what I’m inspired by. I’m a major pop culture geek and can be inspired by movies or music. I’m also a fan of researching other illustrators and seeing their work. It makes me a tad more competitive but more than anything it makes me want to be a better artist/illustrator.

I’m also completely self taught. I saw things I liked and wanted to duplicate them. I’d practice by seeing things and just drawing them or tracing it to get a better understanding of the figure. The only real art classes I had were in high school and a couple when I went to the Fashion Institute of Technology.

What sort of tools/implements do you use? 

I work with mixed media, including my Wacom tablet, but my favorite tools are Staedler pencils and Prismacolor illustration pens.

When did you start I’m Terribly Awkward With Boys?

I started ITAWB in 2010. The idea came about talking about boys with my best friend and of course, complaining about them. ITAWB is only three years old but it’s gotten a great running start. When I think about it’s readership, I’m really blown away. I really love the feedback I get from it.

Why did you start it, inspiration, break up, stupid boy interactions?

Like I said, it came up because I was complaining about boys, or a boy in particular. He was my crush and didn’t like me back but I later found out he started going out with someone who was very (seemingly) similar to me. I definitely channeled that rejection into the very first ITAWB drawing. Rejection isn’t the best feeling but it definitely inspired some of the drawings on the site. A lot of themes in ITAWB come from just being awkward with guys (obviously). I’m a total dork with guys and I’m absolutely okay with that – I like me, even in my romantically perplexing state. It really turned out for the best because there are so many girls who can relate and I’m so pleased with the realization I wasn’t completely alone in my awkwardness.

What do you hope to share with girls (and guys who love guys) through your blog?

When I started it, I never ever assumed it was going to do or be anything other than a way for me to channel my frustrating singledom. I remember the first 10 images came like a breeze, like who knew I had that in me?! It then turned to 100 (that’s the first volume), and I was pleasantly surprised by the initial responses I received. I guess what I want to share the most with people who read it or just browse through it is that they are definitely not alone in their crappy dating experiences, and while all of it is not crappy, sometimes that’s the majority. It happens to the best of us.

How often do you update/come up with new ideas?

I come up with new ideas from whatever is happening to me or some of my friends at the time

Are all the ideas from personal experience, or from stories of friends?

Ideas = experience. They are all from experience, so it all boils down to what’s going on in my personal life. “Does my crush like me? He seems to, but he won’t make a move.” stuff like that. I’ve also illustrated some of my friends’ experiences. The majority of ITAWB is from me wearing my heart on my sleeve.

Do you feel any catharsis through ITAWB?

Oh, definitely. Sometimes dudes are pretty frustrating and drive me crazy – this is a way for me to vent what I feel and resolve anything I had previously experienced. It’s all great. It’s kind of like airing dirty laundry- in a good way, if that makes any sense.

When did you get involved with HG?

I wrote HG after their launch, like a month or so in and told them about ITAWB. The response was really amazing but they were really trying to come up with a way to integrate twitter a lot more with HG and that’s when they asked if I would be willing to draw the ITOTD. I originally did 7 days a week but had to cut down because of my work schedule and such.  I’ve been doing it now since July 2011 and I love it so much. I can’t imagine drawing for a better environment other than HG.

Make sure to check out Maritza’s work on her blog, her awesome twitter feed, her facebook page and, of course, her Illustrated Tweets of the Day!

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