More women and monsters.

I doodled this while eating macaroni and cheese and cupcakes with a brilliant 11-year-old girl who was defacing Justin Bieber with mustaches and beards in her mom's copy of Vanity Fair.


Saturday Night Manhating

I'm working on a comic with my longtime best friend,  Kate, called "Manhater".  She came over tonight to bake some cookies and we were so enamored by our incredibly deep conversation we had to record it.  I hope you laugh as much as we do.  But we don't care if you don't.

Click if you want it to open in a new window; click again to enlarge to read it.


This blog post was brought to you especially by this song - "The Kids Don't Stand a Chance", a 6 pack of cherry wheat (5 on Mensen, 1 on Kate), and 2 attempts at making salted caramel.  The second was a resounding success. 

Mensen and KT take turns drawing and coloring.

Not the best cookies we've ever made.

Bringing them to the meeting tomorrow.  Wonder if folks will eat the crumbs.

I went to Exit Art tonight to see an artists' talk with Susan Simensky Bietila, Fly and Peter Kuper who've all done work with WW3 Illustrated.  If you haven't had a chance to see the Graphic Radicals show yet, you better get your ass over there before February 5th.  It's an amazing, inspiring retrospective of 30 years worth of incredible comics and illustration from WW3.  I first picked up an old copy of WW3 when I was in high school and it was a huge influence on me artistically and politically.  Then, while taking an illustration class at Parsons, my teacher, R. Sikoryak, reintroduced me to the magazine by bringing in a bunch of copies.   It was like meeting a lost lover after years of separation.

I've had the pleasure of knowing some really phenomenal artists that have in some way been involved with the magazine -  Ben Katchor (another influential teacher), Nicole Schulman, Edwin Vazquez (Happy Birthday!) - and it is such an incredible motivation to me to see artists who take their work as activists, educators and organizers so seriously - who see these callings as interconnected.  This is particularly important for me as my experience as an illustration student in college was really not supportive of thinking critically or analytically, let alone being committed to social and economic justice.

The presentation this evening was exactly what I needed to see right now.  Susan Simensky Bietila chronicled her 40 years working with a number of social movements (such as SDS and WITCH) and community organizing while documenting her experiences in paintings, comics and illustrations.  Friends of Brad Will showed a short video and testified to the life and commitment to Brad Will, who was murdered by Mexican police in Oaxaca while videotaping the resistance in 2006.  FLY showed comics about Time's Up and Critical Mass.

What really moved me the most was Peter Kuper's presentation where he illustrated that today's generation of political artists are part of a long tradition.  This is particularly important to remember in such an atomizing time.  His insight that murals and comics are related, insomuch as they are read in a similar way, spoke to my own motivations as both an artist and lover of both forms.  "The revolution may not be televised," he reminded the audience, "but the revolution will be illustrated."

I left the presentation feeling motivated to come home and work on a political painting with an impending deadline.  But until that's finished, I thought I'd share some political art I've done over the last few years (2008-10).

Illustration for an article by Dr. Harriet Fraad on women and emotional labor.

May Day cover for The Socialist magazine.

From my Black Friday series.

Etching from my Black Friday series.

Republicats and Democrans - etching

The Legacy:  This is an illustration from an ongoing family history project I've been working on.  Here's a selection from the interview with my father:

My Father: This is my grandfatherʼs watch. The gold watch that he got for 20 years of service. I wore it once or twice. Itʼs 18 karat gold. My grandfatherʼs retirement watch. He used to grind parts.  He was a parts grinder. Parts were formed and cast and then you grind the burrs off on a wheel. They didnʼt believe in respirators back then. Mom T had to have it redone because it wasnʼt working and the band was shot from him wearing it. He was in the union. It means a lot to me you know, because hereʼs a guy who worked his whole life to support his family in a hazardous environment and he dies two years after he retires and he gets this gold watch for his years of service but he loses his life because of the job he had to do in order to support his family because there was not proper safety equipment and I gotta tell you right now I donʼt think that you know, well, the company probably turned a blind eye, in my opinion, I canʼt say that for sure, but I feel they know how dangerous that dust would have been back at that time I think, and they just turned a blind eye to it and used people as, um, vehicles in order to achieve profits for their company with no regards to their health. This watch, if thatʼs not important, I donʼt know what is.

Me: You think youʼll get a gold watch?

My Father: No. No they donʼt do that anymore. Nobody does that anymore. Nobody gets pension plans anymore unless you stay in the union. Thatʼs the reason I stay in the union. Thatʼs the only reason I stay in the union otherwise I would go out into the corporate world but I stay in the union because thereʼs a pension. Which means that the future workers that go into my union will be paying for my retirement. I think that thatʼs good, that the younger people that come into the field take care of the people that worked before them.

From a series of trading cards about the 2008 economic crisis called "Markets Collapse!"




Drink and Sketch

I'm not sure what I was thinking when I drew this. Please don't analyze me.
I did a little doodle in an hour the other night while Scott Kiernan DJ'd at Daddys.  You can thank 3.5 pints of Coney Island Lager and a shot of Makers for this little speck of ridiculousness.  I've recently gotten some requests to do some digital work, so I used the sketch to quickly brush up on some photoshop coloring - not my most advanced capability, but it was fun nonetheless.

Seeking Interviewees

I am working on writing two comics right now and am looking for interviewees for both.

The first is a comic about OK Cupid - I'm seeking women who would be willing to document their experiences on this site for a year.  I've made a custom-journal for women to keep, along with a questionnaire to fill out after each encounter.  Interviewees would meet as a group once every 3 months to discuss their experiences, and I'd meet with each woman individually once every 6 months and keep in touch via email and phone.  Interviews are audio recorded, and where requested, private information and details can be modified to maintain confidentiality.  I am seeking 3 women for this.

The second is a comic or picture book based on interviews with women who are recovering/have recovered from emotionally abusive intimate romantic relationships.  As a survivor myself, I have a vested interest in creating a book that tells our stories, helps us reclaim our voices, and offers both a sense of hope and a resource for identifying these kinds of toxic relationships.  I am seeking 6 women for this.  I'll have a written questionnairre to respond to and ask for 3-6 interviews.

You can contact me at msmensen@gmail.com if you are interested in participating.

I love being a muralist.

Today's meeting with the Department of Transportation went great.  So very excited and proud of all the incredible muralist apprentices in our group!  They really presented their ideas well and have been extremely fulfilling to work with.  The next few months will be full of fun, intense painting in the new Groundswell office.  I don't think I can post the designs yet, but in celebration here are some images of previous murals I've worked on!

As some of you know, I started my life as an artist as a pretty crappy graffiti writer.  I've been doing murals since 2001 with the company I founded, Legal Bee Productions.  When I moved back to NY from Oregon, I was researching places I'd like to work when I finished my degree.  Groundswell was on top of my list.  Thanks to the amazing artist, Crystal Clarity, I was referred and got a gig to work with them last summer.  I'm currently on my second project with this organization and am so profoundly grateful and inspired.  You can check out their webpage here:  Groundswell

Just for the record, universe - THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO DO FOR THE REST OF MY LIFE.  I want to travel the world and paint murals and make a living doing it.  I want to do my own independent work- but I also love collaborating and working with different groups of people to tell their own stories and working alongside local artists.  It's really important for me to share these skills with others, especially young people, so we can pass the torch.   If it weren't for Pose2, who mentored me when I was 18, I never would have pursued my dream of being an artist - and I'd like to encourage other young folks to follow their passions as well.  (Unending gratitude to Pose...Peep his work here:  Pose2 is Maxx Moses

So, if anyone with money and connections and walls is seeing this - I AM COMPLETELY AVAILABLE to travel ANYWHERE to do some incredible work. 

A section from "Connectivity-Continued" at PS506 in Sunset Park.  I worked on this with lead artist Crystal Clarity and a dozen incredible, inspiring young women.

Also from "Connectivity-Continued" - this area is inspired by fellow artist Robert "Tres" Trujillo and his beautiful, brilliant son, Saja.

Another section from "Connectivity-Continued".  This area was based on my memories of my mom teaching me how to read.  It was the single most important thing anyone has done for me, so I wanted to commemorate it in the first big mural I worked on in New York.

I love that kids walk past this on their way to school everyday.  I hope they see themselves in it.

Some of our INCREDIBLE crew from PS506 this summer.  They awarded me most "Sporkly Personality", dealt with me not allowing them to listen to Eminem's "Love the Way You Lie" because I think it condones abuse, and sang "Give me that Filet O Fish" 10 times a day.  All summer.

When I lived in Jersey City (and also when I lived in Portland) I would build walls in the summer so I could wake up early and just paint in the sun all day.  This was a quick one hour joint when I first put up the wall.

Early Legal Bee Piece....maybe 2005?

Early LBP piece at Backspace in Portland, Oregon

Early LBP Live Painting.  2 Hours.

Early LBP Piece.  I was hired to do a Live Painting for a party by Camel.  The $ was really good but I had real issues with working for them - even though I'm a smoker :(  They didn't ask for sketches and said we could do whatever we wanted.  So I painted cancer.  This is now hanging in the RJ Reynolds HQ.  And the money is long spent.

LBP piece with Nate Baptist at Floating World Comics in Portland, Oregon.  It's since been buffed.
Still unpacking boxes at the "Dismantler", my new sanctuary/safe house above an autobody shop in Brooklyn.  Just found one of my sketchbooks from this summer and thought I'd scan a few things in.  So excited I got a wireless scanner!  But it's mad slow.  Is that normal?  "Analog Girl in a Digital World"....

First of what I hope to be many family portraits series. I've known Adwoa since we dropped out of college together in 2001 (?); she's since joined the Army, where she met her husband Sergei and they collaborated to make the bundle of adorableness you see here.

See the full set here:  My Flickr Page!





Thanks to Mark Sunshine, you can see real, actual super 8 footage of me when I was 16 years old, carrying paint markers, spray paint and weird old cameras I found at flea markets.  Note the bizarre luggage I carried all my shit around in.  I was a strange kid.

I met Mark in a suburban New Jersey Barnes and Noble that I frequented as a kid solely for the purposes of shoplifting. I thought he was the awesomest comic artist and he was one of the first legit artists I ever met.  I think I drank my first margarita with him. 

Check out Mark's work at: http://id.sito.org/sny/

You can catch us splitting a table at Mocca in April.

He's got a comic coming out in Pood (which got a mention in the Daily News coverage of last year's Mocca here: http://shrvl.com/05Ldn).  Check out the full size version here so you can read it!  http://marksunshine.info/media/.

Recent Sketchbook Scans

These are some scans I just ran from the sketchbook I've been working in since November. This work is a new turn for me; I rarely make very personal drawings but I've recently discovered the joy of reclaiming your work and passion for your own individual expression. I sort of feel like a 16 year old girl. All gushy and excited and melodramatic, scribbling away in a book on the train.  I suppose the content is fitting.

Probably my most favorite recent sketch.  I did this sitting on a picnic table in the snow on New Years day.

Add caption

Yes, we do.

New Year's resolution.

20 minute drawing at Dr. Sketchy's

Yes.  I read runes.  Those are Gebo (love, forgiveness, gifts, reciprocity, artistic and creative talents) and Jera (harvest rune of cause and effect, abundance).

Sadly, my overzealous marker sketching bled through.  Keep an eye out for the watercolor of this I'll be posting in the hopefully near future.

Some wonderful young people masterminding.

20 minute drawing at Dr. Sketchy's.  Such an amazing model.

Some preliminary brainstorming sketches for an upcoming mural I'm working on .

Young woman drawing.