Are you heading down to the San Diego Comic-Con? If so, here’s something you won’t want to miss. GirlsDrawinGirls founder Melody Severns talked to us about working as a layout artist for The Simpsons by day and starting up GDG, a group of ladies doing art for shows like The Simpsons and South Park by day, and drawing sexy pin-up girls by night. Animation studio 6 Point Harness is hosting an event for the GDG, who are collaborating with the Chuck Jones Gallery and selling an exclusive print of Pepe Le Pew and Gigi, the GDG mascot. In addition, Linda Jones Clough, daughter of animation legend Chuck Jones, will also be at the GDG booth for a meet and greet and autographs on Thursday from 3-4pm. Looney Toons, you guys!
Check out what Melody has to say about women in the industry, sexuality on our own terms and who we should be watching. If you’re at SDCC, head over to the Chuck Jones Gallery at 232 Fifth Ave. across from the Hard Rock Cafe. I’ll be right there with you!
Legion of Leia: You started out as a layout artist for The Simpsons. Tell us how you got into this field.
Melody Severns: When I started on The Simpsons, the show was still being done traditionally, the old fashioned way with pencils and papers, and flipping the papers to see your drawings move. I had always been a huge fan of the show, so to work on it would be a dream come true. Originally, I was intrigued by traditional animation, and it was also my major in college. My grandfather, Al Severns was an animator for Disney back in the classic days of Bambi and Cinderella. He was my main inspiration to get into this industry to begin with. I always wanted to draw like him. He has long since passed away, but I hope he would be proud of where I have gone with my career.
Legion of Leia: You’re one of the founders of GirlsDrawinGirls, which is described on the site this way: “By day, women from the group GirlsDrawinGirls are animators and artists for shows such as South Park and The Simpsons. But by night, they draw sexy pin-up girls!” How did this come about? What is it about pin-ups that you love?
Melody Severns: Mainly this came from talking to an old college friend, and co-founder, Anne Walker about how we know so many talented women in the industry, and we should get them all together and do something cool. That idea of “something cool” later developed into a movement. There are many talented women in the entertainment industry as a whole that don’t get as much representation that often times they should receive. It is still very much a boys club. In no way do we feel negatively about men. I love the wonderful men in my life who have inspired me positively, but this is more than just drawing pin ups, it’s a way for women all over the world to band together and inspired each other. Women are strong, and it’s a great time for us to step up and get into the spotlight. The reason for pin ups, is mainly because it’s a way for women to embrace sexuality, femininity, and what’s considered “sexy” on their own terms. It’s empowering.
Legion of Leia: You started this in 2006 and now you have five published books and over 200 members. How has the group developed? Who within the group should we be watching?
Melody Severns: I am so inspired and amazed with where this group has gone. It has really grown wings, and when I say we are international, we truly are international! We have women in the group from all over the world! From the US, Canada, Australia, Argentina, Brazil, France, Spain… I could go on and on! To think that women in GDG can create business relationships and friendships with women across the globe is truly revolutionary and none of this could have happened without the amount of shear talent we have with the artists involved. We’ve added some new members this year that truly amaze me, Jennifer Llewellyn, Yating Sun, and Miss Tak completely blow me away with their work, just to name a few. We also have amazing members who have been around for a while. I don’t know what I’d do without vets like Natalie Zigal and Ashley Brooke Cooper, who has her first solo art show coming up this October 5th at the historic Egyptian Theater in Hollywood, CA during the anniversary premiere of the film, Cleopatra.
Legion of Leia: What does it mean to you to be not only a part of such a great group of women, but to give them a place to showcase their talents?
Melody Severns: I have personally grown a lot dealing with the business side of art from when I started this group originally at 23. It’s been 8 years since then (and I just revealed my age), and I can say it’s been an education. It hasn’t always been easy. There’s been some stumbles along the way, but this group has not only helped me learn so much about networking and running a business, but it has helped me grow personally. I truly feel inspired to help give women artists a voice and a chance to get recognition. It may stress me out and add a lot on the “to do” list for the day, but it’s worth it. The positivity I’ve been receiving makes me nothing but grateful to work with these tremendously talented women. At the end of the day, their talents deserve to be displayed, and I am happy to be the spokesperson for them. GirlsDrawinGirls is bigger than me, the name has more recognition that my own name. I think that’s a success.
Legion of Leia: Tell us what’s coming up next for you.
Melody Severns: We have a lot of great things in the works! I really want to expand on the whole international aspect of GDG and create more chapters of the group in other countries. We are currently ramping up a GDG Canada Chapter, which I am hoping will launch with some fun events by early 2015. We also look forward to continuing our relationship with the Chuck Jones Gallery. I truly admire and respect everything that they stand for. Chuck Jones was an inspiration, and I would be happy to continue to help inspire creativity alongside them for future events. However, I will not give all of our tricks away all at once, so stay tuned! So much more is coming for the ladies of GirlsDrawinGirls and we are pumped and excited to take on the world!