1. How long have you been vegan and what inspired you to live the vegan way?
I went vegetarian when I was 8, and then vegan about 4 years ago when I was 35. I remember the moment I went vegetarian, I was eating a steak, and I realized that I was actually eating a cow. It was a horrifying moment for me because I adored all animals, especially cows, and I’d never want to harm them. I stopped eating meat at that point. I did not make the larger connection though about dairy and eggs, and everything else until I was about 35. It makes me very sad that it took me so long, especially as a mother who breastfed her children, I just had absolutely no idea the horror behind the dairy industry, and I feel like I should have known, I should have thought about it or just somehow understood intuitively the cruelty behind the dairy industry. I started reading about veganism and I uncovered the absolute horrors behind the dairy and egg industries and I went vegan. It was like I just totally woke up to the horrors behind all of it, not just meat, dairy and eggs, but everything. Leather, wool, animal testing. All of it came together, and I realized it was of paramount importance that I not only become vegan, but do everything I could to bring the message to others as well.
2. What benefits have you derived from being vegan?
I’ve derived many benefits by being vegan: a clean conscience, amazing friends who share my compassion and my goals, absolutely amazing foods which I’d have never discovered had I not gone vegan (my diet is much more rewarding and diverse than it was before I went vegan! I love vegan food!)
3. Your ‘Art for Animals’ collection is beautiful. Please tell us what inspired you to come up with this collection of logos and other creations.
My “Art for Animals” collection came about since I became vegan. I wanted my art to represent animals, I wanted to use my art to be a voice for animals. I wanted to capture their beauty, I wanted people to see animals for the individuals they are, as beautiful and unique beings, each one deserving of respect and the right to live and not suffer at the hands of humans. So I slowly started to explore ways that I could use my art to be their voice. One of the first things I started doing was making some portraits of chickens. I wrote a simple little poem for a mother hen, which I incorporated right into my artwork titled “Mother Hen”, and in my other piece titled “Mother Hen and Her Chicks” I infused lots of text into the artwork to tell different facts about chickens. I wanted people to read the poem and the little facts and maybe think to themselves “Oh, you know I never really thought about a chicken being a mother, I never thought about the fact that she loves her babies, that she communicates to her chicks before they are even hatched…” that kind of thing. What is striking to me is how well received my Mother Hen artwork is even among non-vegans. It goes to show that most people really do care about animals, but that many people just haven’t made the full connection. I want my art to be one piece or part of helping people make that connection.
The further I went with making artwork centered around animals, the more I realized maybe I could do something more with it. That’s when I started making my videos, which at this point I have 5 and many more planned for the future. I remember the day I made my first video. I went through all my art files and pulled anything that I thought I could use for a video and then I pieced it all together along with a message of compassion/justice/respect for animals. Then I set it all to music. I was brand new at making videos and I didn’t know if I was on to something or if it was totally ineffective. I sent it to a friend to see what she thought, and she was blown away. That is how it all began. Once I made my first video “The Golden Rule” go public, it went viral. I realized I was definitely on the right track, not to mention that I just loved making the videos. It was like I had found this perfect medium for me to share a message of compassion, and a way to use all the art I had been creating to speak for animals. There was actually a point before I started making my videos that I thought to myself that I was creating too much art, I didn’t know what to do with it all or really what the purpose of it was. I had too much of it on my hands and I didn’t know how to use it. Once I started making my videos, it all just came together. I feel very strongly called to keep creating more art and videos to speak up for animals. I feel like I’ve found my place and my way to help animals, aside from just being vegan. It’s my most effective form of activism thus far.
The logos and banners that I’ve created are the most recent things I’ve been working on. I think it started around the time Facebook switched to Timeline, and I needed/wanted a banner for my own page. I created one using my art and it just occured to me that others might want to use it too. So I let my banners be available to the public, I put them up on my website and on Facebook and told people that they were free to use them too. I was surprised by how many people were absolutely thrilled to use them and have them as their banner or their logo for their blog, etc. I am glad that I can help others in that way.
4. Do you find art has been an effective tool for animal activism? Is there any advice you would like to give others about how to reach people through art?
Yes, I would say my art has been a very effective tool for activism. I’ve gotten so much feedback, from vegans and non-vegans alike. I know there are people who won’t watch a video if there is anything violent or graphic, and I hope that maybe those people will at least watch my videos if nothing else. I hope maybe my videos and artwork can be a gateway for people to open up to the idea of being vegan and why it’s so important. As for any advice to give others about how to reach people through art….I would say if you’re an artist, I would encourage you to find a way to use your gift to reach people. It took some time for me to find a way to do it. I had to explore and delve into things that I’d never really considered before, and I had to stretch and grow, but once I did and found my place, well, let me just say it’s such an awesome feeling to know that you can use your creativity to help animals.