Interview by L. Valena
First, can you please describe what you responded to?
The medium was written word, and the content was about grapefruit.
What was your first initial reaction to the piece?
I liked it as a piece of writing. Aesthetically, I connected with it. I like grapefruit, and I thought it was really well written as well. I had a series of other impressions, but the first one was it was engaging and enjoyable to read.
How did you go about the process of translating this work into something visual?
It wasn’t hard. I felt like I connected pretty easily to the imagery in the passage. It was colorful and vibrant, but also very visceral. There were things I could draw from the passage that I knew would work well with my drawing style. At first I considered doing a strictly illustrative approach, by which I mean depict a series of events in a piece of writing- draw scenes from the passage. But then I reconsidered that, because I felt like the point of this project is to change some part of the artwork you’re exposed to. Or put it in your own language, and so I felt comfortable approaching it from my perspective and my style, which is kinda psychedelic sometimes.
What were you thinking about when you decided to choose these specific images and these specific words?
What stood out to me in the passage were words like ‘slurp’ and ‘flesh’ and ‘membrane’ and ‘vein’, but contrasted with ‘millennial shades of pink’ and ‘meat pulp, and ‘flesh’. I wanted to portray exactly what it’s like to sink your teeth into a juicy grapefruit and have it be as realistic as possible, but that’s hard to do. You guys had originally requested a comic, and at first I tried to do that, but it just wasn’t coming together. So I started playing around with some of the images I had made and arranging them in different ways. And it turned out to be a bit more reflective of some of the themes that were in this piece of writing. There was a lot of viscerality and juxtaposition in the piece, and I thought I could make that almost hallucinatory. In the writing, it was a description of eating grapefruit, but I almost felt like it was an enhancement of grapefruit.
Like more grapefruit than grapefruit?
Yeah, through these juxtapositions, it was enhancing the experience of grapefruit. By making a bunch of repeating patterns in my visual piece, and using the words ‘squish’ and ‘whoa’, I was trying to play on that.
I love this kind of story you’ve created.
I see those round grapefruit slices as eyes- this character is just trippin’ out on grapefruit.
What is it about grapefruit?
The color, the acidity. In the writing they touched on how it was kind of a misunderstood fruit. It’s a fringe fruit.
When you look at the piece that you’ve created now, what does it say to you? What does it mean?
There’s the repeating patterns, kaleidoscope. There’s psychedelia and hallucination. It stands for a translation of thought and form. It’s hard to say it stands for anything strictly conceptual, it’s more experiential or impressionistic.
I liked being able to interpret and respond to an anonymous piece, and being able to like change direction with it. And not worry about whether it was right or wrong, or whether I was doing justice to the previous contributor’s intent. When I first started I thought, I have to do the best possible depiction of the ideas in the text, but I discarded that idea pretty quickly. I decided to just take what I saw from it, and to run with it.
Do you have any advice for others thinking about participating in Bait/Switch?
Do it! And don’t be literal- put your own aesthetic into it. Veer off. Go your own way- it’s more fun.
Call Number: C2PP | C4VA.doyGra
Mairen is a cartoonist, illustrator, and muralist from Toronto, Canada. Her main influences are space, disco, and Delia Deetz from Beetlejuice. Check out more of her work at www.mairendoyle.com, or on instagram: @wowflower1.