What She Does: Maria-Elisa Heg has been drawing since she was a kid. As her talent progressed, her work became more and more derivative, and realizing that, she made it a point as a teenager to focus on creating a unique style that embodied her. Most recently she's embraced sketching because of its spontaneity and the easy flow of her ideas onto the page at a rapid speed.
Her work, most easily viewable on her tumblr, tends toward the cartoonish and the simplistic. However, what it tends to lack in nuance and depth, it makes up for in a kind of punk rock brutality. There's an unfiltered genius, as if each picture were a snapshot of a single disturbed thought transmitted directly to paper.
She's also one of the minds behind Zine Fest Houston, which gathers some of the brightest and the best of our comic writers and artists every year. It started as an informal gathering in 1993, but Heg and co-organizer Anastasia Kirages took over the fest in 2012 to begin a dedicated expansion. The two partnered with The Printing Museum last year and have been a growing concern ever since.
Why She Likes It: "The endless self-doubt and anguish! No, just kidding, that's terrible. But essential! I love the autonomy, and the moments when I get in the zone and let things take their course. I also love meeting other artists and forming friendships and collaborations with like-minded people. Sometimes as an artist, especially when you have to operate in 'the real world,' it can feel a bit alienating to try and balance what is often at odds with what's expected of us and what we are inexorably drawn to doing. So when kindred spirits gather, it really gives me a lot of heart and motivation to keep working, no matter how slow my progress may seem."
What Inspires Her: Heg draws most of her inspiration from Houston's artist community. She finds the work they produce to be a guide for her own drive, and when she feels inadequate next to their creations, she takes comfort in the fact that many people feel that way.
Some of her favorite influences are manga, including Sailor Moon and Magic Knight Rayearth. She's also studied medieval history and has a keen sense of symbolism and allegory. Her heroes include Aubrey Beardsley, Kali Ciesemier, Sam Bosma, Naoko Takeuchi and Monkey Punch.
If Not This, Then What: "I'd probably still want to work in the arts, which I already do, so I'd probably just spend more time watching Netflix and not feeling bad about it. Ha!"
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If Not Here, Then Where: Heg has a love of the Pacific Northwest, but wouldn't want to deal with the cold all year round. Her happiest medium would be to spend time between Washington state and here.
What's Next: "What's next for me personally is right now still some downtime to decompress from ZFH. I'm going to the New Orleans Comics and Zines Fest in November, and hopefully to STAPLE! in March 2015. I hope to keep making comics and pushing myself to newer, fresher levels."
More Creatives for 2014 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).
Allan Rodewald, artist Anne-Joelle Galley, artist Michelle Ellen Jones, ballroom dancer and actress Morris Malakoff, photographer and filmmaker Terrill Mitchell, dancer Deji Osinulu, photographer Mason Sweeney, artist K.J. Russell, sci-fi author and writing teacher Emily Robison, choreographer and filmmaker John Cramer, violinist and concertmaster Shipra Mehrotra, Odissi dancer and choreographer Winston Williams, comics artist Octavio Moreno, opera singer Dylan Godwin, actor, storyteller and teacher McKenna Jordan, independent bookstore owner Steven Trimble, mixed media artist Sandria Hu, visual artist and professor of art Robert Gouner AKA Goon73, photographer Shawna Forney and Erma Tijerina (aka SHER), culture gurus Mark Bradley, photographer James Ferry, comics artist Keith Parsons, author and philosophy professor Alonzo Williams Jr., photographer Rudy Zanzibar Campos, painter Paige Kiliany, director Betirri Bengtson, visual artist Melissa Maygrove, romance novelist Natalie Harris, bridal gown designer Larry McKee, cinematographer Tiffany Heath, filmmaker Jonathan Pidcock, Jewelry Maker Mallory Bechtel, actor, singer, dancer Janine Hughes, visual artist Nyssa Juneau, artist John Merritt, artist Leslie Scates, choreographer and dance educator Denise O'Neal, producer, director, playwright Jason Poland, cartoonist Courtney Sandifer, filmmaker, actor, writer Lloyd Gite, gallery owner Henry Yau, The Children's Museum of Houston's publicity and promotions guru Angeli Pidcock, fantasy writer and mentor Jennifer Mathieu, author Scott Chitwood, writer Anat Ronen, urban artist Amber Galloway Gallego, rockstar and sign language interpreter Michael Weems, playwright Lane Montoya, artist Jordan Simpson, SLAM poet Joey & Jaime, designers Suzi Taylor, photographer Ashton Miyako, dressmaker T. Smith, artistLindsay Finnen, photographer Kaitlyn Stanley, tattoo artist Eleazar Galindo Navarro, video game maker Kate de Para, textile and clothing designer Shawn Swanner, video game painter Andy Gonzales, painter Chris Foreman, comic book sketcher Theresa DiMenno, photographer Jessica E. Jones, opera singer Atseko Factor, actor John Pluecker, writer, poet and language justice worker Ricky Ortiz, painter, tattoo artist Rabēa Ballin, artist David Wald, actor Lisa E. Harris, performing and visual artist Stephanie Todd Wong, executive director of Dance Source Houston Pamela Fagan Hutchins, novelist Heather Gordy, artist Mark Nasso, comic artist Shelbi-Nicole, artist Marian Szczepanski, novelist Jonathan Blake, fashion designer Doni Langlois, interior designer Kat Denson, dancer Blame the Comic, comedian Margaret Menchaca Alvarez, artist Jacquelyne Jay Boe, dancer Rene Fernandez, painter Teresa Chapman, choreographer and dancer