Lauren Weinstein is a true gem. She is an artist whose work challenges the status quo–and who portrays motherhood in an honest, real way. Weinstein is also incredibly busy, working hard at her art and being a mom (which you know, is an impossible task).
One of her strips, “Normel Person,” has been featured weekly for The Village Voice, she teaches at SVA, and she’s written three books, “Girl Stories,” “Inside Vineyland,” and “Goddess of War.” She’s also working on her fourth book, because she’s badass.
I was lucky to be able to speak with Lauren about her work, being a mom, and what food she would be:
How has your work been influenced, or possibly changed, post-Trump?
I started doing my weekly strip for The Village Voice, “Normel Person,” when I thought there was no chance he would win, and my comics would be funny quips about the nuances of life, but now I feel like Trump lurks in the background of everything I do. I hate that he takes up this much of my mental state. My comics are an attempt to keep myself sane during this completely unstable time.
Why do you think it’s important for women to create art and speak up about motherhood? What prompted you to?
The only time I feel like I’ve experienced true sexism is when I became a mother. I went from living in Brooklyn and being in a rock band to moving to New Jersey and being a stay-at-home mom.
I realized that there are no safety nets in place for a working mother-artist. As a mother you are expected to disappear into the role since childcare is so expensive, or be magical and produce art in between cooking and cleaning and parenting. I really wanted to not disappear.
I felt like I totally had to reinvent myself or else I would die. I was really inspired by Carol Tyler and Aline Kominsky-Crumb, who talked about their worlds so unflinchingly. But to this day, I am told by different editors not to make so much work about motherhood, that it’s not “relatable.” I’d like us to get to the point where it doesn’t feel like this world isn’t marginalized. The more women that speak up about it, the less ” other” it seems.
What’s one piece of advice you always give to your students about publishing and creating art?
Make art that you love making, that is a reward unto itself.
How do you balance working, having a family, and creating art without going crazy?
I am crazy! I have no balance. I work on art like a maniac but I do it because i truly love it. I am also a slob. The best times are when I’m really present doing one thing or another. Like going on a walk with my daughters and really being there and not checking my phone.
Also, I have learned the fine art of phoning it in… that just forcing yourself to finish something and get it out into the world is often enough.
What TV show have you binge watched?
I have never binge watched a show. I hate sitting and passively ingesting. I watch TV, but not a lot at once. I loved that Laura Dern show on HBO. “Enlightened” I think it’s called. I like to start a depressing documentary on Netflix and then fall asleep half way through.
Who are you, in one sentence?
I am an art-makin’ humanity lovin’ weirdo!
Biggest pet peeve:
People seem to like to be sheep?If you were a Jewish food, what would you be?
Gefilte fish, an acquired taste.
What’s the best thing about yourself? What’s the worst?
Best: the best thing, unbridled creativity. Worst: total disorganization.
To to be a painter.
Check out some of her “Normel Person” illustrations below: