Meet Beatrix Urkowitz and Hal Gaucher: Comic Artists at MICE 2018
by Chloe Carson
Beatrix Urkowitz is a comic artist based in Providence, Rhode Island. According to her website, she is available for “illustration work, private commissions, job offers, fine art projects, publishing opportunities, love letters or damning critiques.” To learn more about Beatrix, and see more of her artwork, visit https://bmfu.net, or follow her on instagram @bmfu.
Did you go to college? What was your major?
Yeah, I went to School of Visual Arts in New York City. There’s a cartooning program at the School of Visual Arts, so that’s what I took.
What’s the biggest inspiration for your art?
I wouldn’t say it’s any one thing. I think all artists are trying to get out something of their inner life, that is in relation to the rest of the world that isn’t necessarily expressed or normal communication. I’m definitely inspired by the history of cartooning, but I’m also inspired by modern and contemporary art, and I like experimental composers and things like that.
Is it scary not knowing what will happen next as a freelancer?
I’m not in a position where I rely on freelancing as my primary source of income. It’s good to always have other things going in your life, especially since what I try to do is not necessarily what appeals to everyone. I don’t like being reliant on audience expectations. I basically don’t want to rely on other people for my practice. I’m primarily motivated by my own interests; whatever appeals to me at any given moment.
Lastly, do you have any tips for art students interested in illustration or design?
I think the most essential thing I could say is to try look outside whatever the common influence is, and whatever the trends are within your field. If you want to be an artist who is interesting and different, and eventually someone who gets jobs, I really think the best thing you can do is follow your own interests and try to cultivate interests outside of whatever is going on around you, in the illustration scene specifically. The scope of influence there is pretty limited. The other most essential thing is that sometimes it’s necessary to become a public influence on the internet but don’t let that control your life. Don’t become too involved in that. Don’t let people on the internet boss you around and don’t let strangers pretend to be your friends. That’s very fickle and I’ve seen many artists get mistreated really badly by their audience just because they’ve decided they have some sort of control over the artist. Just be careful of that. Be your own person.
1 - “Wraparound CD cover for Jazziz On Disk, "Sounds of Summer." Thanks to AD Naï Zakharia.”
2 - “Poster for the Queer Arts Festival, ordered by AS220 and Brown University. Thanks to Blue, Shey, Jacque, Tycho, et al.”
3 - “A comic series that was serialized on Hazlitt. Thanks to AD Anshuman Iddamsetty.”
4 - “ My piece for the group show Wave Pool at Kustera Projects, curated by Anna Kustera and Lucia Love.”
Hal Gaucher is an illustrator based in Cambridge. They currently work at the Worcester Art Museum in the art education program. If you would like to see more of Hal’s artwork, or learn more about them, visit http://www.gaucher.work.
Did you go to college for art?
Yeah, so this line [of artists] is mostly Lesley University kids. I’m an alum, so this is my first time back at MICE since graduating. I have a BFA in Illustration, and a minor in Visual Narratives and Creative Writing, so that’s where I get the comic aspect of it. So, yeah, I went to school and it was a pretty good experience.
Where do you get inspiration for your art?
To be entirely frank, it has a lot to do with intimate relationships, drawing from mental illness, as well as my relationship with animals. If you couldn’t tell, there’s a lot of animal gore. My art mostly deals with the natural and the supernatural, and my relationships with other people - friends, family, and romantic partners.
Are you a freelancer?
Kind of. I would say freelance in itself is kind of exhausting. Right now I work in an art supply store, so getting artistic influence in retail is kind of refreshing. Also I work at the Worcester Art Museum, so I teach classes in making comics using Photoshop. So yeah, I’m a freelance but really when I come to conventions is the only time I get to sell my work. I don’t really go out and chase it for the most part.
Do you have tips for art students?
Keep your relationship with art alive and make sure it’s your own. I feel like when I was in art school I really fell out of love with the work I was making and I had to force myself to start journaling in order to get back into it. Learn everything you can. Use all the resources you can before graduating. Make sure you save time for personal work because if you don’t love what you do, you’re going to hate what you’re doing by the time you graduate.
3: “Master Copy”