Our first Artist Q&A features Beverly Salas, whose artwork bewilders many on her various social media with her zentangle-esque drawings of girls, eyes, and flowers. Salas’ art conveys emotions through the eyes and faces she draws and continues to thrive in the local Santa Ana art walk scene, as well as globally through her estsy shop where she mails out commissions to her loyal supporters in various countries. Recently Creeper Magg had the chance to talk to Beverly in her studio space about art, life, and how her art community grew to what it is today.
Creeper Magg: So tell us when you started drawing?
Beverly Salas: Well, I never know how to answer that question because it’s like since I was a kid, I’ve always shown an interest in drawing, but it didn’t pick up more until high school. I was drawing and then I would hide them because I thought that they were kind of weird. Not weird, like they weren’t creepy or anything, but I just thought they were weird because no one else did it. One time this girl in class was like, “Can I see that?” It was like sophomore year, and then I showed it to her. And she liked it and then I drew one for her. Then it turned into this crazy chain of like insanity where I started drawing something for everyone. By the end of high school, I had drawn over 300 drawings for free, not charging for anything. Then I started doing the art walks, like two or three years ago, but it’s fun.
CM: Was it like a little piece of paper?
Beverly: It was like a full sheet of lined paper, like 8 x 10-11, and I should’ve charged a dollar, but I’m not money driven or anything. But I’m just like, “Wow that could’ve been a lot.”
CM: When did you start getting your own style? Because I’ve noticed a lot of your drawings look a certain way. Was it like that in high school? Or did it develop over time?
Beverly: It’s definitely evolved. That’s so funny because you guys came in I cleaned out this whole thing, and I had a bunch of old drawings I could’ve pulled out, but they were like the zen doodles that I would do kind of, like the black and white ones, but with like a regular ball point pen. It was more scribblier, later on it started evolving. It wasn’t until college when I was even more bored that I started drawing even more and I started involving color in it. Then I started to try to draw people, even though I hated how they looked like. Then they turned into what they are now.
CM: Did you ever take classes?
Beverly: No, I wish.
CM: So it was all self-taught?
CM: That’s cool and even more impressive. What do you usually use when you draw?
Beverly: Most of it can be free hand, like the zentangle stuff is like none of it is ever planned, but other stuff I like to use really thin pens, like a needle-point kind of tip. But I usually use that and I like to use gel pens. Like literally anything I can get my hands on that is affordable because I always am on a budget. We live on a single-parent household, I help out a lot in a way, so I try not to spend my money on expensive stuff. I try to use what I can without spending much money.
CM: Do you ever paint?
Beverly: Yeah, I just started painting. I felt so stupid because like I have this whole thing of paint, and someone was like, “Oh, you just need your primary colors.” And I was like, “Man, like if I took an art class, I probably would’ve paid more attention to that and I would’ve known more,” but I just like to buy the pre-made colors because it’s easier and more time efficient. I just started painting mid-last year, and I’m not good at it, like I’m not comfortable with it yet. I’m trying to do it more, so I can get better.
CM: I’ve also noticed looking through your stuff there are a lot of eyes and then you said the zentangle. They look like henna designs; is there a reason for that? Or is it just because you like that style?
Beverly: I like to draw eyes a lot because I feel like you can communicate more with eyes than talking, like you express more with your vision and your looks with people. You can totally look at someone that you know, like you guys know each other and you guys look at each other and know like,” Oh that was weird” or “Hey that’s cool” just by looking at each other. So I find that really cool that concept of communicating with your eyes, I like to incorporate that, but besides that I really like how [eyes] look. I wanted to be an optometrist when I was younger, but then I realized how much work it was, so I was like, “I’d rather just draw forever.” I just really like [eyes], and the whole zentangle style… When I started doing that, that was like 2008, and I did not know what it was. Then I was like, “I wonder if it’s called anything.” Probably three or four years ago someone was like,” Oh, it’s a zentangle. It’s a zendoodle.”
CM: You also draw a lot of girls now. Do you ever draw guys?
Beverly: I try, but it’s so hard. I think it’s because I didn’t grow up with a lot of masculine figures, but all my friends are guys. I try to, but it’s just not something I’m comfortable with, like I don’t think they look good. I feel like any time I draw a guy, it looks girly or they have a more feminine look to it. I’ve tried to make them look more masculine or whatever, but it’s hard. I can’t; I don’t know why, but I want to take a drawing class and maybe hopefully try to draw more masculine people.
CM: Do they offer it at your school?
Beverly: Yeah, they offer life drawing, but they teach you how to draw everyone.
CM: Do you model any of the girls you draw after real people?
CM: So they are from your mind?
Beverly: Yeah, I just don’t look at someone and draw them because I don’t know anyone that would look like them really, so it’s just in my head.
CM: Is your art, like the commission stuff, your job?
Beverly: Yeah, it’s weird to think about it because it was such a hobby where I never got paid for it, and now it’s this thing where every week it’s this consistent rate where I can actually afford to help my family and take them out to eat or do stuff for them that I always wished I could do. Now I get to say, “Oh man, I got to finish this drawing.” Sometimes I get so stressed, like, “Oh my god, like I have a million drawings to make,” but then I’m like, “Man, how often do you get to hear, ‘Oh man, I need to draw because I need to get paid.’ ”
CM: So you get a certain amount of people per week asking for commissions?
Beverly: Surprisingly, it’s pretty consistent. It’s either two big commissions or five medium commissions. It’s always a certain rate every week that allows me to live comfortably and be able to buy art supplies and do more things. The biggest thing that helps me out [are] the art walks because it’s all at once.
CM: How long have you done the art walks?
Beverly: Two to three years.
CM: How did you get into it?
Beverly: This girl that was part of a collective called Concept that I am a part of named Rosa messaged me on my art page. I didn’t start selling my stuff until two or three years ago. She was like, “Can you do this art walk?” And I was like, “Woah, like I’ve heard of it, but I’ve never gone to the Santa Ana.” And I was like, “Woah, I get to be one of those people that have a table? Yes!” And then I did it. The first art walk I did was such a disaster, my table looked like a complete mess; everything was taped down. Everything was flying everywhere, but it was really fun. And when I saw how cool it was, I wanted to keep doing it.
CM: Have you made a lot of artist friends?
Beverly: Yeah, it was surprising. Most of the art community in Santa Ana. That’s where I do most of my art walks. Everyone is really cool; everyone is for the art. The art walks help my income, and this makes money for me, but I don’t do it for the money. It’s more like I want someone to have it, and people are like, “You’re so cheap. You could sell this for $20,” but I don’t want to be known for something like that. I want it to be for [someone] to have, and in a way you’re helping me too because you’re helping me live.
CM: Do you think you’d ever want to have your own gallery show? Or have you done that?
Beverly: Yeah, I kind of made a list of where I would want to have my shows, but when you are a local artist, I feel like there are not a lot of people that – like there are a lot of local artists, but these galleries are looking for a certain aesthetic. I’ve had small gallery shows, like when you guys went to that small store gallery show, but they’re not ginormous like famous galleries. They’re like local galleries that anyone could have a show there, but it’s a big step for me.
CM: Have you ever thought about being a tattoo artist because your stuff seems like it could be tattoos?
Beverly: I know! I really want to, but I just have this fear that I’ll mess up.
CM: And it’s forever.
Beverly: I would just hate to look at the person and be like, “I messed up.” And that disappointment would scar me forever. I’d rather just be a tattoo designer, which has been what I’ve been kind of doing. I design tattoos for people. Well, they’re like commissions.
CM: I was like, “Do you charge for that?”
Beverly: Yeah, to draw a tattoo specifically for them, but if it is something I’ve already drawn, I just ask them to donate whatever they think is reasonable.
CM: You could collaborate with a certain tattoo artist.
Beverly: I want to.
CM: That would be so cool.
Beverly: Like I wanted to intern at this tattoo shop because they were looking for designers, but everyone looks for professional people that have been in that environment and that have had tattoo classes.
Beverly: Yeah, they have tattoo classes. It’s a class, and they teach you how to work the tattoo gun. Even if you’re not doing a tattoo yourself, you have to know how everything works because it would influence your designs in a way. I’ve designed stuff for people, and all the lines are too fine, so we’ve had to do it thicker or whatever. I used to do henna for people, I would do it at the art walks, but now I can’t really focus on that, like I have to focus on the people that come in, but I want to make temporary tattoos. I’m working on that right now, but it’s just that the paper is so expensive. I hate the thought of having to charge people like $10 for a temporary tattoo. I just want it to be affordable for everyone. So it’s like if I wouldn’t want to pay that, I wouldn’t want anyone else to pay that. I don’t like to scam people because I’ve seen other artists charge so much for things. Like man, how do you feel comfortable doing that? But it’s like I can’t say that because they know their art work is worth that much. I feel like my stuff is not worth the amount that some people would say.
CM: Like it depends on the person.
Beverly: Yeah, I just think it depends. As for me, like I don’t even like hanging up my own artwork. It feels weird.
Beverly: Yeah, I don’t know. I painted it on my door, but I mean, it was just like out of impulse, but it was never like… I never had my stuff up. My mom, she kind of wants to hang up my artwork, and I’ve drawn stuff for her, my brother, and my sister, but it’s like they hang it up in their rooms. I feel weird hanging it up in my room. I don’t know why.
CM: But I feel like if I were an artist, I would be like, “This is for me. I like it.” Like is it hard to let pieces go? Or are you just like, “Well, it’s for someone else; it’s fine?”
Beverly: In a way, I like that for someone because it’s like they’re taking a part of me that I worked so hard on. I’d rather have someone else have it because, like I can’t say that I’m super in love with the stuff I make, but I’m like, “Yeah, I’m totally…That’s what I wanted it to look like.” Like that’s how I felt in that moment, but then like if someone is way more excited than I am, I’m like,” You have it.” So in a way I really like having that, and it’s a crazy feeling to be like, “Man, you wanted to buy that, like you want to spend your hard earned money on the stuff that I just worked my butt off for like 10 hours.” I just think that’s the craziest concept out of this whole thing, that I can say like someone wants it, that’s the thing that tops everything.
CM: Yeah, that’s cool. How long does it usually take you to finish a piece?
Beverly: Um, it depends. I don’t really work, like, large scale. Like there’s something back there that I’m working on for a commission that’s like this big, and like it’s taking me so long because I have like other smaller commissions that I’m like, “Oh, I’ll finish the small ones. Then I’ll start the big one. Or I’ll finish all this, and then I’ll do that.” But usually like the black, like the zentangles, if they’re just one color, it’ll take two-ish hours. And then like the people take like two hours, maybe to an hour, usually not that much. Usually I’m drawing in my room or if I’m like out eating, I can’t not draw. I have to be drawing at all times because I feel like it’s more productive to me. Like I can’t just sit down and watch a movie. I have to draw and watch a movie.
CM: Do you ever get burnt out? Because it seems like you’re nonstop.
Beverly: It’s like this weird obsession to the point where it’s like it makes me feel sick if I haven’t drawn something. Like if I’m drawing for a commission, I’ll be working on commissions from like the time I wake up- let’s say like 10- ‘til like four, I’m like constantly working on commissions, but in between, I’ll be taking breaks on those commissions. But I’m still drawing something else. Like I’m taking a break from drawing by drawing, but it’s like in a way it’s a break because you’re not drawing what you’re supposed to be drawing. It’s like what you want to draw in a way.
CM: So do you keep that kind of stuff in a notebook?
Beverly: Yeah, I’ll keep them in a notebook or usually if someone will say that they’re interested in it, I’ll just give it to them or something. And like whatever… I haven’t been able to draw something for myself in a while just because it is work.
CM: Is it different from the stuff that you usually sell? Or is it like the same?
Beverly: Um, more like emotional. More like diary stuff, like journaling. Like I will rarely share stuff like that just because I feel like that’s so personal, and like the last thing I posted was like a personal drawing. But then I was like, “Eh, it looks like I could share it. It’s not that personal. I’ll just share it.” But yeah, I usually don’t share personal drawings.
CM: Like it’s for you?
CM: Do you have any people or, like, it could just your family members or like anyone that has inspired your art? Or like influenced anything that you’ve made?
Beverly: I would say, I really [like] Mark Ryden and Daniel Johnston and like Templeton. I don’t go for their style, I just like admire because it’s just so cool, like they inspire me in the way where I really like it, but I don’t go for it.
CM: What do you usually like in art…for other people?
Beverly: I really like surreal or abstract stuff, like stuff that you don’t see normally, like twenty eyes. You know? Like something melting…
CM: ‘Cause I think of Tim Burton when I see something like that.
Beverly: Yeah, stuff like that. I really love Tim Burton, like I’m not like a crazed fan, but I love his stuff, like I think it’s really cool. But I mean, my mom too. Like my mom is my biggest inspiration. She like never gives up.
CM: So she’s like really supportive of your stuff?
Beverly: Yeah, she’s pretty supportive. Not like I wished- like I wish she was more, but she does what she can. Like she’s too busy to really see what I’m doing. She won’t go to the art walks because she’s working or she’s tired, but when she sees the stuff I made, she’s like, “I can’t believe you made that! Like when did you make that? When I was in there?” And I’m like, “Yeah, I was in here making that.” She’s supportive in the way that it’s enough.
CM: Growing up, did you tell everyone that you wanted to be an artist? Or did you have like a bunch of different things?
Beverly: Yeah, I wanted be a doctor, like an optometrist. No matter though I wanted to help people. I like people telling me that it’s helped them in a way because it inspires them, and that’s like enough too. Like that’s awesome. Like it feels great, but back then, when I was younger, I wanted to be some kind of medical thing that would help people, like I wanted to save people I want to leave this world knowing I’ve helped people.
CM: When do you feel like the most creative or like inspired to draw? Well, I mean, not all the time, but is there like a specific setting, like in your room or is it when you’re out?
Beverly: I feel like it’s a hard question to answer because it’s like I’m always inspired in a way, but I feel more comfortable in my way. If me and my friends go to like a coffee shop or a restaurant, while we’re waiting, I’ll draw or after, like, I’ll draw. I love drawing in new places, like I don’t need to be in a specific place to feel completely inspired, but I do feel more comfortable in my room obviously, like anyone else would feel comfortable in their own space, like their “cave.” Anywhere really… it’s like you know like in nature, like natural lighting when I’m drawing with brighter colors like it’ll pop. It’ll make the colors pop more. Anywhere that has like nice lighting in a way.
CM: You have a lot of people that look at your stuff. Do you meet a lot of those people?
Beverly: Yeah, [that] is also one of the greatest things- to meet the people, like behind the social media and stuff. Like the people that always commenting. They’ll say stuff like, “Oh my name is blah blah blah.” And I’m like,” I recognize your name! You’re always liking my stuff.” It’s a really great feeling, like I do meet a lot of them. I’ve met a lot of Tumblr followers, and they’re like, “Oh, like I follow you, so I brought you this or I made you this.” Like I have a whole stack – I have in the garage of like portraits people have drawn of me. And they’re so sweet or they’re stuff they made [that] was inspired by me.
CM: So it’s like a community?
Beverly: Yeah, like they’re friends or like they’re fans, and I’m like, “No, they’re- we’re homies.”
CM: Are they usually local or is it a lot of international people?
Beverly: Surprisingly Australia and on my Etsy it has this statistics thing where most of the clicks come from. And more clicks come from Australia than here surprisingly. It’s really weird, but I have this list of places where I’ve mailed out commissions to, and I’ve mailed them out to everywhere in the U.S. so far, and like places in Australia, the U.K., and like Spain and stuff. I like to keep track of where I send stuff because it’s like cool to know. I had a gallery show [at the lab], that was like my first time last year. A ton of people, like some girl came from Arizona; she like drove out here from Arizona. Yeah, like someone came out from Sacramento, and they’re like, “It took me like nine hours. I barely made it.” And as I was closing things down, so like a swarm of people came because they couldn’t find the gallery. They were telling me like, “Oh, I came from Utah” and “I came from San Diego.” And I’m like, “Dang, you drove that far just to come see this? Like how? Why?” But like at the art walks too. The craziest thing when you guys came actually the craziest, awesomest thing happened cause it was in an alley, and people couldn’t find it. Some girl got out of her car with her boyfriend; she was like,” Oh, I wonder where she is” or whatever. And like some girl was like, “Oh yeah, like Beverly…” And they said my name, and was like, “Oh, you’re looking for Beverly?” And they’re like, “Yeah, we can’t find her.” And like some other girl, like a little girl and her mom heard it, and they were like,” Wait, are you guys looking for her too?” And like these crowds of people, like seven people that all found each other just like by hearing my name were like, “Are you looking for her?” And I’m like,” How did they know? Did they like all kind of like just know that they were looking for me?”
CM: They were all confused?
Beverly: Yeah, like where is she? And like all these people came, and I was like, “Woah… that’s crazy.” And it feels weird because you know what I mean? Like you don’t expect that, like I never go to an art walk, expecting like, “Oh yeah, I expect like 20 people to come like just for me,” but it’s like really nice. It’s like really crazy to think about it in a way. Usually I can tell like at the art walk it’s like a huge two lanes. People setting up their booths, and people would just come straight to the table. And I’m like, “Oh, I know, like you might be from Instagram because you came like directly here.” But it’s like really nice, like really humbling…really cool.
CM: So is Santa Ana your favorite art walk?
Beverly: Yeah, like the people there are amazing. The culture there is awesome. Like even though I live here, I like to - people like to say I’m “Santa Ana based” just because I’m always doing the shows there and stuff, but it’s like I’m really in love with that city. It’s really cool. The art walks there are definitely unlike any other art walks.
CM: Yeah, and you’re always in a different spot, right?
Beverly: Yeah, I usually, well, they have like three consistent spots where they’re at.
CM: How have your views on art and creativity evolved as you’ve grown up? How do you see art differently?
Beverly: When I was younger, it was just like, “Oh, that looks cool,” but now as you grow older, you try to see like the reason – not the reason exactly, but the intention for certain things. Then you’re like, “Oh, I wonder why they did that.” And I look at it differently like now as every piece is kind of like a message in
a way or like it means something. But yeah, like, I don’t know. Like I just see it as something different now.
CM: Like the meaning behind it instead of like the surface?
Beverly: Exactly. I just like to see more meanings of things.
CM: Does your art ever have messages, like that kind of stuff? Or is it just when you do personal things?
Beverly: I think usually it’s more personal things, like emotional stuff, not so much political or like my opinion on things…yet. I try to remain neutral, just cause I don’t want to offend anyone.
CM: That’s true.
Beverly: Like I’m a hardcore feminist, I believe in all [that] stuff, but I don’t like to like pressure, even though it should be pressured into people’s views in a way. But I just try to refrain from like all political things, so I can remain okay with everyone because I know everyone is not going to agree on the same things. So I try not to offend anyone with the stuff that I make.
CM: What’s your opinion on the art community or the art world, do you find it inspiring? Or do you think it’s gone downhill a little bit?
Beverly: It’s like either you’ll find one-like [there’s] two different kinds of people in like the whole art community, like one – the people that like absolutely love you and want to help you or are like 100% down to do like anything and so that you guys can like survive and like the whole art community and try to get shows and stuff. Those are the people that I like to value, but there’s also the other side of the art community where it’s like pure jealousy driven where people don’t want you to succeed or they’re like, “Oh there’s an art show coming up,” and they’ll know they need more people, and they won’t ask you.
CM: Like it’s super competitive?
Beverly: Yeah, it’s really competitive in a way where it’s like they don’t want you to be good.
CM: So [they’re] not into inspiring each other?
Beverly: Yeah, the other group of people they’re like, they’ll try to pump you up. They’ll try to help you out in a way, and you’ll help them out. That’s the art community I strive to be a part of, but there is obviously, like in anything, there’s like a bad side and like a heavenly side of the art community.
CM: Do you feel like there’s more of the good people?
Beverly: Yeah, for sure, like everyone is really awesome. I rarely come across evil people, everyone is so nice and supportive, especially in Santa Ana, everyone is super cool there, like really really nice.
CM: So what do you like most about the stuff you create? Is it helping people?
Beverly: It’s kind of that, but also like that I can make stuff for people in a way, like that’s a good feeling. Like I like making it. It sounds weird. Um, but I like that I have like- most commissions, like I have complete freedom to do [whatever].
CM: What do they usually they tell you?
Beverly: Like they’ll give you their favorite colors if they want to.
Beverly: Yeah, that’s pretty much it, thank God I haven’t gotten anything like, “Can you include my cat?” Cause I can’t draw animals or anything.
CM: I was going to ask if you could draw animals.
Beverly: I want to, but it’s hard.
CM: And they move a lot.
Beverly: I really like working detailed stuff like the smaller things are the better.
CM: Do you have any projects planned for the future? Or is it just commission stuff?
Beverly: I love the commissions, but I’m going to try to balance out time and make stuff for myself too, so I could display stuff at my shows. But I do want to like, I’m working on making an animal pins. I just got my 1-inch buttons made; I usually make them, but like I haven’t in a long time. I just started making those, and I want to make t-shirts and kind of like expand more, like not just on paper and canvas, I kind of want to have stuff on shirts and buttons and patches. Like I told you guys before temporary tattoos and stuff like that, I kind of want to do that.
CM: So you just want to expand?
Beverly: Yeah, just expanding a little more.
CM: And…do you have any final thoughts for this interview? Like about art or life? Or like advice for other artists?
Beverly: Um, I guess, like, advice for other artists is to not compare yourself. I always like to include that in anything, like don’t compare yourself because there are a lot of people that like – they feel like they have to compare themselves. And like, “They’re better,” and “I have to get better - to that level.” It’s like just do it for yourself, like how you feel. And then you’ll be way better. Once you start focusing on what you want to do and how you want it to look, it’ll be fine. And then as for like developing your own style, just do whatever you want as well, like don’t go for anything – if someone inspires you, just take little pieces of it and make it your own in a way. Like that’s all I’d really like to say. Also thank you so much. It’s like really crazy to have an interview in my room cause it’s like so private and personal.
CM: Thank you.
Beverly: No, no, thank you.
CM: Also I have one more question.
CM: So when you started all the social media stuff, did you just start posting your art? Like one by one?
Beverly: As for Instagram and actually all the other social media, it was just my stuff, like personal – like what I ate today. You know like a normal Instagram? But then like, um, I posted one drawing. Then I saw how-
CM: Like how it spread?
Beverly: Kind of, yeah. People really liked it, and then someone else posted it. And they’re like, “Oh, this is really cool.” And like random people, not just my friends, started liking it. And I was like, “Woah, this is cool, like I should probably share more of my stuff.” And then I was thinking about making just an art Instagram, and then I was like,” Nah, I’ll just turn it into whatever this is.” And then slowly it turned into what it is now. Also cause I did something for like this big YouTuber, her name is grav3yardgirl, I did this phone case design for her, like about two years ago, so she posted it on her Instagram, and she has a ginormous following. So then like all her people came and followed me.
CM: Saying,” I want one.”
Beverly: Yeah, so I was like, “I should start posting more of my art.” And I did, and it turned into what it is now. Sometimes I do want to post like personal stuff, like, “I did this today,” or “Check out this movie,” but then I’m like, “Nah, people don’t care about that.” So I just made a personal Instagram, just like I can show friends and stuff what I did. Yeah, just everything like Tumblr and Facebook, everything like that turned into like just art, like slowly. It’s like I’m happy with it though.
CM: Do you have a website?
Beverly: Like not an official website. I’m working on that now. I just feel like it’s a lot of work.
CM: And to maintain it.
Beverly: Yeah, a lot of coding and all these things, but I’m doing that right now. Like I just got an Etsy two months ago, and it’s super fun. It’s really awesome; it’s way easier. I don’t know why I didn’t do that before, but yeah. Besides that, I don’t really have a website; when people ask, I just give them my Instagram or my Facebook and that’s enough, I find, almost everyone has that.
Interview by Emily Kimura
Photos by Kelsea Cadena