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Check Out Marie Awn’s Story

Today we’d like to introduce you to Marie Awn. 

Hi Marie, so excited to have you on the platform. So, before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
As a little girl, I knew I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I didn’t know exactly how that was going to happen but I just floated along through life believing it anyway. I was always the “artsy” kid and the amount of times I heard “can you draw me something?” throughout grade school and high school was innumerable. I graduated from Wayne State University with a BFA and a concentration in painting. After I graduated, I stayed on at my job as a makeup artist because I essentially didn’t know what to do with my degree as a painter and I knew I could support myself financially with the job that I had. Fast forward twenty years…I was still working as a makeup artist and had a pretty sizable clientele. I had been wanting to make a change for years to get back on track towards my art background. 

Then the pandemic hit. 

I think 2020 brought a lot of things into focus for many of us. I know I was forced to really look at what was truly important in my life and to make things happen instead of waiting for them. With the unwavering support of my wonderful husband, I made the decision to leave my decades-old position and put all my energy into my family and exploring who I am and what I want to say as an artist. 

In the last two years, I’ve created more art that I’m proud of than in all the years prior. 

I’ve taught myself programs that I had previously been intimidated by. I learned how to use Adobe Photoshop and Illustrator. I bought an iPad and Apple pencil and learned how to use Procreate. I’ve leaned heavily into digital illustration, comic book illustration, and I’ve also taught myself surface pattern design. I’ve been working on building a brand by creating my website, online store, and printing and distributing original art prints, cards, and stickers. I had a table in artists alley at Motor City Comic-Con the last two years where I was able to showcase my recent illustrations. 

I’m currently having a blast creating abstract paintings and using everything from professional-grade paints to my 5-year-old son’s art supplies. I hope to exhibit my paintings in a show somewhere in the near future. 

Regardless of my age and life experience I often have imposter syndrome and get down on myself for seemingly missing out on so many years honing my craft, but I remind myself I had to get through certain experiences in order to be where I am today. 

And it’s never too late to change everything. 

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle-free, but so far would you say the journey has been a fairly smooth road?
I feel very fortunate in that even when things haven’t been smooth, I still feel like I’ve had more opportunities than most people. I think it’s just the way I grew up. Being the daughter of immigrant parents you learn to appreciate where you are and you understand there are so many people who would love to be in your shoes, regardless of whether it’s been a smooth ride or not. I think the biggest struggle has been having the confidence to move forward with an idea and to expose yourself for everyone to see. Artwork can be very intimate. I’ve always felt very private about things I’m working on but in the age of social media I’m learning I can’t be too private or else nobody will know I even exist! 

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I really would love to do everything! I think it’s great to always be learning new techniques and using new mediums. I’ve been feeling less precious about the way I approach my artwork lately mostly because I’m realizing that I learn the most when I’m more open to making mistakes. I love digital illustration because technology has made it so easy to change your mind. I love clean lines; I love intentionally unfinished-looking pieces. 

I’m most drawn to using neutral palettes with a shock of bright color. My love for repeating patterns makes its way into some of my work and I am most happy when I’m drawing a female face. 

I’m really proud of how far I’ve come as far as honing my style. I’ve always been attracted to minimalism and I’m finally getting to a place with my artwork where I’m very comfortable keeping things simple. 

Can you talk to us about how you think about risk?
As the eldest daughter of three kids, I was the responsible one and I made choices that had been expected of me for most of my life. I was never really a risk-taker. That all started to change when I met my husband. We met in college and I was attracted to how different his way of thinking was and still is. I admire the risks he’s taken in his career that have gotten him to where he is right now. I believe sometimes you have to take risks and make yourself uncomfortable. I’ve learned that every time I’ve said yes or no to something that I’ve been nervous about, I’m always grateful for that choice I made later. I come out stronger on the other side. It’s just how you grow. 

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Image Credits

Alex Awn
River Awn

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