This week we have Mabel Ye, an artist from New York City! I first came across Mabel’s art in a tutorial she did about how to draw from the live model. Going through her Tumblr, I was struck first by her young age, and then by her skill with drawing the human figure. Not only were her drawings full of life, they were full of personality. All her characters seemed effortlessly casual and distinctly individual. In my experience, it’s hard enough drawing someone, but drawing them in a fitting pose, with the right clothes and the right expression; it all gets harder as it goes. And throughout all her drawings was a sense of joy, a sense that she had as much fun drawing them as I did, viewing them.
The thing I love about Mabel’s art is that it’s quintessentially informal. Nothing looks contrived. She doesn’t feel the need to draw monumental subjects, or give her drawings a sense of gravitas, she just draws what she feels in the moment. A lot of her posts are funny and random, putting her own lovely personality on full display. They invite you to partake in the joke, and her blog is a comfortable space for her to experiment. It is this utter fearlessness that draws me to her, because I’m a fearful creature. Looking at her work, I feel like I can do anything.
Mabel’s own character is so obvious in her drawings that it’s likely what caught the attention of a Cartoon Network recruiter two years ago, who ended up offering her an internship when she graduated from high school. They also took her to meet Rebecca Sugar, creater of the hit show, Steven Universe. Words cannot descrbe my jealousy. This summer she also attended CSSSA, an intensive summer art camp held by Calarts here in California.
Writing about Mabel is actually quite personal for me. She’s said on her Tumblr that recently she’s received a lot of what is essentially hate mail: people disparaging her art and her abilities. I can’t even imagine having to deal with those attacks, being as insecure as I already am. I think the people who sent those messages are insecure themselves, and instead of working harder to improve their own abilities, they find it easier to bring down other people in an attempt to make themselves feel better. It is only heightened by the fact that she is incredibly young: currently only a senior in high school!
The reason writing about her is personal to me is because two years ago, I would have been tempted to disregard and disparage her art in my mind, out of my own insecurity. I’m pretty young myself, but she’s younger than me and has plenty of followers, a store, a Facebook page, and an internship offer from her dream studio! But the person I am now realizes that all artistic skill is a product of hard work. The person I am now is comfortable enough in my own shortcomings to praise great, inspirational art when I see it, instead of just comparing myself to it and finding I’m flawed. The person I am now could never seek to bring down someone who loves drawing, and in Mabel, you can tell she loves it.
The thing about her work is that it makes me want to draw. Of all her qualities, this is perhaps most compelling. It’s rare for me to find an artist who inspires me to draw, but when I see Mabel drawing whatever comes to her mind, in whatever medium is available, with a style full of character and dynamism, I am so inspired. It looks so fun and carefree. It looks like the key to happiness. When you’re an artist, what is there to do when you’re stressed out and tired, when you’re full of doubt about your future, when you’re insecure about your abilities? The only way through is to draw. In seeing Mabel’s work, I feel like I’ve found the answer.