"Roller Grrl"

by Ejits

I created this piece in the midst of 2020 while in lockdown in the UK. When the pandemic first hit businesses were told to close, and the majority of my income disappeared. This enforced break from my work seemed like the perfect time to turn all the weirdness of lockdown into a positive and throw myself into building my illustration brand. I threw myself at creating as much new work as possible and turning that work into merchandise like prints, stickers and paintings to sell online. I went a bit overboard and put a lot of pressure on myself to create. After six months and through reading all the terrible news, I came to a grinding halt.

I felt burnt out and quite unsure of what I was doing and why. The news was so heavy it felt silly to be creating colourful cute characters that don’t comment on current affairs. I had to take a minute to think about what inspires me and what I wanted to do with it. Some illustrators are inspired by world events, while I’ve always been a dreamer and taken comfort in escapism. After talking to some creative friends who were having similar thoughts, we came to the same conclusion. That escapism and finding humour and fun even when times are tough are just as important, as social commentary, for our mental health.

When I put the pencil back to my iPad, I was still feeling quite unsure of what to do. Then I had an idea to scroll through Pinterest. If anything popped out to inspire me to draw, I’d follow that feeling. I was trying to find what was naturally inspiring to me rather than overthinking it. These rainbow-coloured skates popped up, they were so pop and kitsch they immediately put a smile on my face and reminded me of when I used to skate as a kid. I went into a roller skate Pinterest rabbit hole and found these sassy women who skate that looked so carefree and confident. Then this character came out of the end of my pencil in bright rainbow colours. Partly as colour therapy for me and because I want my work to be silly and uplifting in the hopes that it can make other people smile.

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