Interview with Napping Artist (Mindy Bechtell) from Theory Magazine Issue Two by editor Ashley Moon.
Describe your background story in three sentences.
I was that weird kid with a stutter and lisp. I just sat around drawing all day and didn’t really have a life. Then all of a sudden, I was the weird ugly duckling who became obsessed with art.
How has art changed you? Has it taught you anything about yourself?
I think my art has made me realize how important I am. I’ve had a lot of people in the last year call me an inspiration and tell me that they are doing things because of something I have done. Before, I never thought lowly of myself, but I never really thought much of myself. Now I know that I actually matter.
What are some things that people have praised you for or what’s their favorite aspect of your art?
I usually get compliments on colors, creativity, and the story that goes behind it, or just the fact that I’m doing it and showing it. I like to share my story. A lot of people say that it takes a lot of courage and inner-strength.
What role do women have in art?
I don’t know, I’ve never really thought about it. I feel like we all have our own spot in art. But there’s really no steps or hierarchies. Every different style of art, whether it’s a boy or a girl who made it, is important in a different way, like abstract, realism and surrealism. I can’t really place myself.
I think just being a woman and telling your story takes a lot of strength.
It’s fun! I’ll be talking to girls and they’ll tell me something thats going on in their life or how they’re frustrated. I’m like “Oh! that’s this piece” and they’re like “Oh! I get it now. That really describes what’s going on.” It helps me to be able to talk to girls a little bit better. I would definitely say my art is pretty feminine if you think about it.
How do you think your art differs from those who have a more formal art education?
I gave school a shot and didn’t like it; I found my way by talking to other artists. There’s one woman in my life who’s an artist. She’s out there with art in real museums. She really knows what she’s doing. So I’ll just go to other artists and ask for help or ask the public’s opinion, “What would you do if you were doing this?”
I just run into it blindly. I’ve definitely had a few awesome teachers growing up here and there. They gave me some pointers, but I definitely feel I run into it blindly whereas students have some structure. It’s that difference of “structure” and “I’m just going for it.”
Some student artists don’t market and promote themselves as strongly as you do, so props to you for that. You take a whole different approach to it, which is awesome.
Oh, thank you. I’m curious why other people don’t promote themselves because I know there’s a lot of other people doing the same thing I am. When you take it to a school level, creating art goes beyond being a hobby. I’ve talked to friends that are in school that will call me and say “I’ve spent 20 hours on this project, I’m so happy its over!” I tell them that most of my pieces take 4 to 24 hours. When it comes to graphic artists versus traditional artists, you can tell the difference. Who loves it and who gets sick of it?
Where do you get your inspiration? If you’re having a brain fart, what is your go-to?
It usually depends on how I’m feeling. If I’m feeling apathetic, I’m incapable of doing art, so it’s all about how I’m feeling. Sometimes I use references for how bodies are put together, like a model’s picture or a personal picture. But it’s exactly how I’m feeling at that moment. If I’m not feeling enough, I can’t create art.
Do you have any favorite artists or places you go to get inspired?
I like to wander around and go to rivers. I love Frida Kahlo, and I watch Disney movies. Lately I’ve been one of those nerdy Tumblr girls looking at quotes and finding stuff to fit. Kind of like when you’re in high school and your teacher asks you to explain confusion, and you draw a sketch of it.
How do your pets influence you?
My cockatiel, Doobie, has definitely shown up in my art a lot; I’ve had him since I was twelve. He likes to run around on the floor, I have to watch him with my pencils. I’ll be drawing and he’ll come over and try to steal a pencil. My dog Rupa likes to snore underneath me while I work. She keeps my feet warm and makes me happy. I’ve done some pit-bull art and would like do more.
There’s a big controversy about pit-bulls being awful or violent dogs, what do you have to say to pit-bull haters?
That stereotype and all those issues drive me nuts because I’ve had pit-bulls my whole life. Humans create the problem. Humans create monsters. We create them in stories. We create them out of ourselves. We turn animals into humans. Dogs don’t even naturally bark, we bred that into them. We breed in fighting. Any dog can be vicious. It’s up to the owner and how they take care of their dog. Pit-bulls are so sweet and loving. They will do anything to please their owner, and that’s the problem. That’s why people create monsters. Dogs are animals like us, we just have the ability to control and destroy.
You have a bright, happy monster theme in your artwork. What role do your characters play in your pieces?
The characters you see in my pieces are light and dark. You have to have both to create something.They are the inner things you deal with. They show that life is okay. You are great, but there are always going to be inner demons or little monsters. It’s up to you who you let win. I like this quote by Jordyn Berner, “We stop looking for monsters under our bed, the day we realize they’re inside of us.”
I’ll openly admit that I do battle with myself. I know a lot of other people do too. Some people don’t like knowing. Once you’re honest with yourself, you can then admit to having self-battles here and there. Some people look down at you for it, or think you’re incapable of something. I’ll openly admit that I have my good days, I have my bad days, and I have them all at the same time. But it’s something I’m working on, and I feel like this is the case for everyone. If life gets too hard, instead of being quiet about it and being worried about someone’s judgment, you should talk to someone, or go find a way to help yourself. There might be monsters, but it’s going to be okay. It’s up to you to decide.
I read today on your Facebook page that you developed a logo?
I’m working on it. You know how you see the Thousand Arms Priestess, and they have all those flyers around town? I’m going to put my own flyers up. I want to get my name out there more. Not everyone has Facebook, and not everyone spends as much time on the computer as I do. You’re going to have to look at it while walking downtown. It’s my self portrait.
Have you ever considered doing graffiti?
I’ve definitely sat around and daydreamed about it, I’m not going to lie. I’ve definitely thought I’d do more of a Miss Van acrylic style. I love that. I feel like I’d be able to create an acrylic piece a lot quicker.
What do you envision, or hope for, in your future as an artist?
I’m hoping to expand a little more. I would like to start going beyond pen and paper and make stickers and t-shirts. I would like to keep art as a hobby and obsession, instead of looking at it as a job. I would like to get more involved, and begin not only making money for myself, but be able to help others with it too.
You can see more of Napping Artists work and buy original work for incredibly affordable prices on her Etsy page.