In 2017 two of my favorite female illustrators (Julia Rothman and Wendy MacNaughton) teamed up to solve an industry problem. As they put it,
Like so many great things, Women Who Draw started in the bathroom. Julia Rothman was sitting and thumbing through back issues of a prominent magazine, when she noticed that most – in fact ALL – of its covers had been illustrated by men. She went through her whole collection and found that out of 55 magazine covers done in 2015, only 4 had been created by women. She called Wendy MacNaughton and together they agreed something had to be done. Instead of complaining to the press, they decided to solve the problem by increasing the visibility of all the talented female* illustrators. In early 2017, Julia and Wendy launched Women Who Draw to highlight illustration by women, women of color, LBTQ+ and other less visible groups and make it impossible for any publication, art director or editor to ever again say “I’d hire more ____ if i only knew where to find them.”
I knew from the day it launched that I needed to be a part of the directory, but apparently found every excuse under the sun to delay my submission. I’ve been trying to get out of my own way more, and finally just a few weeks ago MADE space for myself to work freely and creatively without deadlines or client constraints and was shocked at how much was waiting to be made in my hands.
I got a new coat that I love dearly and illustrated myself wearing it, and that’s what I used for my submission and now it’s offical. I’m in the Women Who Draw directory! Please hire me.
One of the other challenges I was confronted with in the submission was that there is an opportunity to indicate your religious affiliation and ethnic background. It was a new exercise for me to publicly identify as an Agnostic despite growing up ardently Christian, and to claim my Middle Eastern-ness. That one was a little harder. I kept doubting myself and thinking my name doesn’t sound Arab enough, I barely speak any Arabic anymore, I’m only half Palestinian after all. But I do think it informs my identity, how I view my global citizenship, my understanding of diaspora (my mom’s aunts and uncles and cousins live on four continents as a direct result of losing their homeland in Palestine), and my relationships with my family, both immediate and extended. So I checked that box and now it lives there as a little fact, next to my name.