If you look up “Roaring Softly”‘s hashtag on tumblr you will see many posts and reblogs expressing gratitude that such art exists. Tyler Feder, the creator of Roaring Softly has created quite the following from people interested in pop culture, fun art, and societal critiques. No small feat for anyone. What is it about Tyler’s work that resonates with so many people? Whether you’re a fellow artist, a patron of the arts, or just curious as to how she does it all, this interview is for you.
TPZ: Okay so I just want to jump right in to this, your art has quite the following on the internet. You cater to this socially conscious/pop culture enthused audience, would you agree? Do you identify with your customers?
TF:Yes! Pop culture (especially television) is such an important part of my life, and I find it wonderful how a real, genuine community can develop just from people watching the same characters.
TPZ: How do you recommend other artists find their voice or even their audience if you will?
TF: I was making art and putting it on the internet for almost a year before I started getting any kind of following, so I think the most important thing is to just keep making things and sending them out into the ether. I know it’s simple advice! But if I hadn’t made a hundred mediocre pieces of art, I wouldn’t have figured out how to gauge what resonates with people. Making lots of art also allows you to gradually refine your style and voice until it starts to feel really authentically “you.” So, even if you don’t like all your stuff right away, just keep going!
TPZ: The first piece I ever saw by you was the “Intersectional Rosie the Riveter” piece. It meant so much to me because you really did represent all different kinds of people! What inspired that drawing?
TF: I wanted to do something for International Women’s Day that represented more women than the standard “one thin, able-bodied, cis white woman and one thin, able-bodied, cis woman of color” stuff, so I tried to be as inclusive as possible. There’s always room for improvement, but I’m so glad that piece has seemed to resonate with a lot of women. It feels good to contribute to a force that means so much to me.
TPZ: What do you do outside of Roaring Softly? Do you have a job/go to school/focus solely on art?
TF: I have a degree in film and screenwriting from Northwestern University, and I recently finished the writing program at Second City in Chicago. My graduation show, “All the World’s a Stage! (But Don’t Worry, You’ll Grow Out of It),” ran all of January in Donny’s Skybox Theatre. Studying at Second City was one of the best decisions I’ve ever made — I learned and laughed so much and met such wonderful people. Right now, my writing friends and I are working on writing a new sketch show together that, fingers crossed, will go up on stage somewhere at the end of this year.
TPZ: Who or what inspires the drawings you do?
TF: I am very inspired by television (clearly, haha), but really I am just inspired by life. Little things, like seeing a dog wearing a raincoat on the way to the train, or having an awkward conversation with a grocery store bagger, will often prompt me to make art or write a sketch. Nothing is safe!
TPZ: When did you first realize you could relate to people through your art?
TF: About a year and a half ago, when I was going through the agony of growing out a pixie cut, I made a drawing grumbling about it. It was this little grid of the limited hairstyles available to pixie-growing-out girls, which are all super ugly and horrible. A bunch of other girls reblogged it right away and pointed out which ones they were sporting at the time. It was such a rush, hearing other people refer to their “pigtails of desperation,” which is a term that I totally made up! I realized then that I could use my art to find other people who were like me.
TPZ: I (along with a billion people) follow your amazing tumblr, do you struggle (like many artists) with keeping the credit on your drawings? I know people often delete the credit section. Why is it so important to credit the artists (obvious answer but let it out girl).
TF:I really don’t understand why someone would want to go through all the trouble of downloading an illustration, manually removing credit, and reuploading the image to their own blog when clicking the reblog button is so easy! I make my income from my art, and, like many other internet artists, a good portion of my advertising comes from people reblogging my art on tumblr. Every time someone decides that they can’t bear to have my cute little signature cluttering up their page of “soft grunge” or “pale boho” or whatever, it is one fewer chance for me to support myself. Plus, of course, it blatantly disregards the amount of time and energy that goes into creating a piece of art.
TPZ:When you work on all of these pieces for Roaring Softly, do you listen to a lot of music? Watch TV? What do you listen to/watch?
TF:Yes, I almost always have either music or Netflix going while I work. Ingrid Michaelson just came out with a fabulous new album the other day and I have been listening to it nonstop! I have also somehow created a Pandora station that is about 50/50 show tunes and Mumford & Sons, which is totally my jam. And, like most of my audience, I have an emotional attachment to Netflix. Netflix has the key to my heart.
TPZ:(I’m assuming based of your art that you’re a feminist) how/when did you find your feminism? How do creative outlets help with all the feminist feels if you will? Haha, I’m quite cheeky with that. Feminist feels haha, sorry. I just had a moment with myself.
TF: Oh yeah, I am definitely an angry feminist! I come from a family of 3 girls, so I think I always leaned in the feminist direction, but in college, I saw The Vagina Monologues, took some gender studies classes, and started reading feminist & body acceptance blogs, and it took my feminism to a whole new level. I’m so glad that I have my art and writing in my life, because now when I get catcalled or see an obnoxious Carl’s Jr. ad or something, I can safely channel all my anger onto the paper.
TPZ: How long does it take to do one of your pieces on average?
TF: Sometimes I can bang out an illustration in an hour and sometimes it takes me a week or two. It depends on how busy I am, how complicated the illustration is, what kinds of faces I’m drawing (some people are just harder to draw than others – I don’t know what it is!), and how much of a red-wine-and-string-cheese-fueled inspiration frenzy I’m in. I would say that the average character illustration takes me about 3 hours and the average grid-type illustration takes me 6-8 hours, from beginning to end.
TPZ: Thank you thank you!
TF: You are super welcome! 🙂