My name is… Larissa Brown Marantz.
I am… an illustrator, art teacher for little kids, big kids, and college kids, a cartoonist, a wife and mother, and I’m searching for Zen in a crazy world. I am Filipina and Black and have a multiracial family. I love seeing books with families that look like mine, so I aim to create picture books that represent my own family. I meditate daily, practice fasting, but love to eat pizza, brownies, and bacon cheese burgers with fries. I try to practice moderation in all things but sometimes go overboard and need an adjustment back to the middle. I love teaching art almost as much as I love making it and I love sharing what I do with people.
As a kid, I was… a voracious reader, too scared to ever speak up in class, but very imaginative. I loved to people-watch and I still do. I fell in love with drawing in kindergarten when I first mixed blue and red and discovered how to make purple (my favorite color) and I still love mixing colors to this day. As a kid, I was the only Black student in my grade at school and felt out of place for most of my childhood. I often wished I had long blonde hair like most of my classmates instead of the curly afro style I wore, but it wasn’t until I was older that I learned to embrace who I was, inside and out.
Writing is… hard, so I leave it to my husband, Keith Marantz, who writes books for me to illustrate. Sometimes I have good ideas and we’ll write things together, but mostly I like to put the finishing touches on the books we write and leave the heavy stuff to him. We do a lot of talking about writing, and we talk a lot about story when we watch TV shows and movies. We know writing takes a lot of character development, plot development, and nuance, and we love to talk about that while we go on walks, or while lounging in the pool on a hot summer day.
Drawing is… pure magic. As a very shy kid, drawing helped me to find my voice. There is no better feeling than to make something out of nothing that elicits an emotional response from a viewer (that goes for any type of creating, be it writing, cooking, performing, but I’m only really good at drawing and painting!). Drawing is also hard! But I love learning how to improve and I also love to teach others how to improve at their drawing. Drawing is a skill that can be learned, but one has to be willing to do a lot of bad drawings before they can get to the good ones. Not everything you draw will be great, but as long as you enjoy the process of creating, you’ll inevitably get to a point where you’ll make something that you love, and others will too.
Reading is… what I do to learn about myself, discover new worlds, fall in love with new characters, and connect to other people. My favorite things to read are graphic novels and esoteric books that help me find my Zen, like Eckhart Tolle. I have always loved reading biographies and have been inspired by the way people overcome adversity. Reading about the lives and experiences of other people builds compassion, tolerance, and understanding for the world around you.
Books are… a way to find comfort and solace in these trying times. I once heard an incredibly moving and inspirational commencement address from one of my child’s teachers and she talked about growing up extremely poor. She talked about her love of reading and her thirst for knowledge as a child. By reading books, becoming educated, and focusing on increasing her knowledge about math, science, and the world around her, she was able to lift herself up. Thanks to the treasure of our public libraries, we have free access to books that can open up our world to entire universes of knowledge. Of course, the internet can do that now, too. Where webpages are “bookmarked” and scrolled for continued reading, I feel like books are a tangible place that readers can revisit and get lost in over and over again, in a truly focused way without the itch of opening a new tab or chiming notifications or banner ads and dancing gifs stealing our attention away from the printed word.
Did you know… that I can say my artwork was hanging in the White House? In 2008, my paintings of Barack Obama were featured in two galleries – the Democratic National Convention and the Manifest Hope: DC Inauguration gallery. After Obama entered the White House, I sent illustration prints of my work to the curator of the gallery shows who handed them out to people all over his office. At the time I was unaware that he recently began working for Valerie Jarrett at the White House. He told me, “Your art is up all over the place!” Had President Barack Obama seen my work? I think it’s very likely. Although sadly I can’t confirm it, but I like to think he had. Also, two of my paintings were selected by Senator Kamala Harris to be displayed in her Washington DC offices in 2019.
You can find me… AND CLYDE
On his website: ClydeTheHippo.com
On Twitter: @clydethehippo
On my website: LarissaMarantz.com
Teaching online art classes: OCArtStudios.com
Talking about my upcoming Graphic Novel: Making a Graphic Novel
On Twitter: @LarissaMarantz
On Instagram: @larissadrawsstuff
On Facebook: @LarissaMarantzArtist