Drawings, Monsters, Graphic Novels: Interview with Artist Summer Mariotta

Updated: Mar 8

Artist Summer Mariotta joins us at Learn for Life (LFL) to discuss her art, inspirations, aspirations, and life as an artist. We are also joined by Able ARTS Work Art Therapist, Katie Prodanovich.

Young woman in black slipknot shit with black mask stands in gallery next to reclaimed guitar artwork.
Artist Summer Mariotta is photographed standing next to her artwork "Emotions" in the Able ARTS Work 2nd & PCH Gallery.

Learn more about Summer Mariotta and how to support her in her artistic career.


LFL: I’m here on Zoom with Summer Mariotta, a resident artist at Able ARTS Work and we’re here today to talk about her art. Summer would you tell us a bit about yourself? When did you first start making art?

SUMMER: Well, I started making art when I was really young. I remembered that Disneyland kinda inspired me to draw.

LFL: Did you go to Disney a lot as a kid or was there a special moment for you?

SUMMER: Yeah, we used to get one of the passes that we could go any day we wanted.

LFL: So, when you went to Disney you saw all the characters and found some inspiration there?

SUMMER: Yeah, but it was also Walt Disney. I like listening to his, you know, how he curated Disneyland and other stuff.

LFL: Okay, so Walt Disney is one of your inspirations. That’s pretty cool! When you first started drawing, what were some of the things you liked to draw?

SUMMER: When I was younger, I used to like to draw butterflies and dragons.

LFL: And how does that compare to now? What do you like to draw now?

SUMMER: I like to draw kinda like dark stuff.

LFL: Okay, like what?

Patched up red and white teddy bear in front of background of scalpels. Word "Drxio" across the bottom of the artwork.
Ink Drawing on Paper, 2020, Summer Mariotta

SUMMER: I kinda like drawing monsters and you know, other drawings. I also do drawings on how I feel.

LFL: A lot of artists have done drawings about how they feel. I think that’s a good thing to draw. You said that you started with inspiration from Walt Disney, but now you say that your drawings have changed and are a little bit different. Do you have other sources of inspiration nowadays?

SUMMER: Yeah. Even though I used to like Disney, I was kinda a horror movie person too.

LFL: So you find some inspiration from horror movies now?


LFL: Do you have a favorite horror movie?

SUMMER: Yeah, but it’s funny because I used to be kinda traumatized by it. It’s called, I think it’s called “A Thousand Corpses”. It’s directed by Rob Zombie.

LFL: Oh wow! Yeah, I’m not a horror movie person, but it’s cool that that’s where you draw your inspiration from. Everyone has different forms of inspiration. So what type of monsters do you like to draw?

SUMMER: I usually like to draw my bear characters, but I sometimes like to draw them twisted.

LFL: Every artist has a different style. It all depends on how people view it. What do you want other people to see when they look at your artwork? Sometime the artist thinks about that when creating. Do you ever think about what you want other people to see?

SUMMER: No, I just want people to look at my art and, you know, say something or comment. Just see what they think about it.

LFL: Do you have anything that you hope that they will say or you don’t mind anything? You are just happy they are looking at it?

SUMMER: I think kinda both.

LFL: A little bit of both? Okay. When you work, you said you draw, but what type of medium do you like to use? What type of drawings?

SUMMER: Well I really like to use markers and colored pencils.

LFL: Do you use the same colors or do you have a varied color palette?

SUMMER: I sometimes use any color when my mind chooses a color.

LFL: Whatever your inspiration is at the moment?


LFL: Okay. So you’ve kind of said how you developed as an artist. You’ve gone from butterflies and learning about Disney to horror movies and monsters and feelings. Is there anything that you are working on right now?

SUMMER: Well, I’ve been doing some sketches and drawings.

LFL: You’ve been doing some sketches? What have you been sketching?

SUMMER: I’m trying to make like a story. It’s not done yet. It’s this one. [Shows sketch to interviewer over Zoom].

Summer's unfinished ink sketch depicting a magenta teddy bear with a pattern of eyes in the background.
Summer's unfinished ink sketch depicting a magenta teddy bear with a pattern of eyes in the background.

LFL: Oh wow! That is beautiful. It’s a teddy bear with eyes in the background. I like your use of repetitive pattern to create movement. It’s using a limited, almost monochromatic palette. Do you ever turn your sketches into a bigger artwork or do you like to primarily work within your sketchbook?

SUMMER: I kinda like to keep things in a sketchbook.

LFL: So your art is more for yourself than for the general public?


LFL: Do you have any goals for the future as an artist? Do you know where you would like to be one day as an artist?

SUMMER: Um, I just want to be an artist that a lot of people would talk about.

LFL: Okay, you want to be someone that people know, right?


LFL: Do you think there’s steps that you can take to get there? I know you’ve recently had some commissions, so that’s been exciting! What do you think are maybe some next steps?

SUMMER: Well, I still need practice to draw backgrounds because I’m not really good at drawing backgrounds.

LFL: More practice and backgrounds are definitely a good place to start. What about professionally? Where do you see yourself? Do you hope to get into more galleries or do you want to learn how to connect with people more? Is there something that you are wanting to do to boost you on your artistic journey?


LFL: Where would you like to see your artwork exhibited if it could be shown anywhere?

SUMMER: Well, I like my art to be with other people.

LFL: So, you like group shows where people can see your work next to others’ art?


LFL: Is there a reason you like to have it with others’ artwork verses just your own?

SUMMER: So that we can talk about it as artists.

LFL: You like the opportunity for conversations to see what you’re doing compared to other artists’ styles and techniques?


LFL: So, art’s a really big part of your life. Do you think art is important in the community and society as a whole?


LFL: Why do you think that?

SUMMER: Because art is really special and I used to go to the art museums and it does inspire me to draw more.

LFL: Museums are definitely an important part of our community. Did you have a favorite type of art or artist that you liked seeing in the museums?

SUMMER: I really like looking at Vincent Van Gogh’s paintings.

LFL: He does very beautiful expressive artwork. It transports you to another world. As you said, art is very important to society, what do you think about the artist? What is the artist’s role in society?

SUMMER: We should be expressing our feelings in art because people can’t read our mind and what we are thinking.

LFL: We are using art as a voice for ourselves. Definitely! It shows the world that there’s another way to communicate, other than just talking. Has art meant something like that to you within your life?


LFL: Do you want to share a little more about that?

SUMMER: Well, like I said before, when I draw my emotions, I usually like to draw what my emotions look like.

LFL: So it helps you realize and share what is going on with everyone else or just with yourself.


LFL: So, if you could have a dream art project, do anything anywhere for yourself or for a commission, what do you wish you could do? As big or little as you want.

SUMMER: That’s really kind of hard.