A new month is upon us and that, of course, means a new a new cartoonist is joining us. When i saw Emilie Gleason’s «Toilets» series after the initial flush of embarrassment, i was bowled over by the colours and themes. And as she is a-cistern us this month i took the opportunity to find out about the thought processes behind her cartoons. And it makes a nice change from me talking ball-cocks.
Emilie Gleason describes herself as a melting pot of different cultures - her surname is Irish, her father Mexican and her mother Belgian. She also wants to bring these international influences into her life and art. Mexico with its colours and crafts, Belgium and its world-famous comics and Ireland with its music and dances.
«I love the weird and funny sound of fiddles and bagpipes» she says, "and I love to travel anyway!" And not just in real life but also in her comics: «This idea of travelling figuratively runs through my drawings. The «Toilets» series is also about a journey, namely my journey from toilet to toilet in my life. Each portrait is a personal memory of mine, whether it's being drunk at a party or peeing outside the door at my home.»
But the series is more about the toilets of her friends and acquaintances than about her. «Actually, it's not so much the toilets themselves that I show, but their owners. Bathrooms are very intimate places where people give free rein to their creativity - they put their favourite books there, hang pictures. They are very intimate, and say a lot about a person.»
Emilie plays with this intimacy in her paintings. They are funny, colourful, cheeky, charming, and sometimes a little embarrassing - and I think that is exactly the effect Emilie wants. Because drawing is about more than the decorative and aesthetic for her. When asked what themes are important to her, she answers: «I like strong, funny and / or ugly women. I think it's important to show as many characters as possible who don't conform to the old patterns. I grew up with comics like Tintin and Lucky Luke, and the female characters in them were just....decoration. I also drew decorative female characters until I was 22. Then I discovered feminism.»
What surprised me was the answer to my question about who Emilie's hero/heroine’s are. «As a child, I was a big fan of the film The Mask, and of Jim Carrey. Apart from the fact that the main character is green and crazy, I think it has to do with the fact that I always look for role models who don't know fear, shyness and humiliation. I've missed out on a lot of opportunities because of my weaknesses, and I sometimes wish I was a little more fearless.» A feeling I'm sure many of us know. But that's not the only thing Emilie struggles with sometimes. The downside of a creative profession is that it often takes a lot of energy. «Like many of my colleagues, I have given up a lot for this profession. I work during holidays, at family gatherings, on public transport. I almost never have time to draw something just for me. Sometimes I lose the joy of drawing and that's a problem.»
For this reason, she recently took a three-month break - and during this time, the «Toilets» series was created. Emilie says during this time she was able to get back to why she actually likes to draw. «I want to make people smile with my drawings - and that without shying away from taboos.»
Mission accomplished, Emilie. I'm looking forward to your comics in April!
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