Today we’d like to introduce you to Marissa Suto.
Marissa, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
It sounds cliché, but I’ve loved art and I’ve wanted to create art for as long as I can remember. I have my mother to thank for that because when my sister and I were growing up, she would always take us to different museums and art events. She even spent a few years working at the Brooks Museum in Tennessee and my sister and I would spend hours exploring the exhibits or doing art projects with the education department.
Even though I grew up loving art, as a small child, I decided I wanted to be a veterinarian. That passion lasted up until I graduated high school and took my first college-level science class… after that, I decided that I would be much happier pursuing a degree in art. I spent time at Fullerton College taking as many art classes as I could, determined to experience as many mediums of art as possible. Eventually, I learned about printmaking and instantly fell in love. After a few years, I transferred to Cal State Fullerton, and I’m about to graduate with a degree in Studio Arts.
In October of 2014, I decided that I wanted to get serious and work on getting my name out into the creative world. I started my company HumAlong Productions and started applying to conventions and small pop-up art galleries. That year, I was accepted to vend at WonderCon for the first time and ever since I’ve been traveling around California, joining different art vending events and galleries. Besides selling at shows, I’m also working on developing a webcomic that I hope to launch later this year.
More recently, at the end of 2017, I was invited to start curating the Fan*Alley Artist Lodge, which is a pop-up event in Orange County that is modeled like an Artist Alley at a comic book convention. Each Artist Lodge show features art vendors, a themed gallery from local artists, a raffle, scavenger hunt, and art workshops.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
While I’ve been lucky that nothing terrible has happened so far in my art career, it hasn’t been a smooth road. Some shows are not as they’re advertised to be. Sometimes, people just don’t show up or care, and sometimes you’re forced to deal with super crappy people (both attendees and artists). Sometimes, you’re even in another state and realize you’ve forgotten to make a hotel reservation! These are all things that we’ve come to realize are just part of life as an artist and they’re things that we’ve learned to take in stride.
Something I wasn’t prepared for at all was the emotional and mental toll that this journey would take me on. People don’t always understand what it takes to make a “hobby” into your full-time job, especially when it comes to the field of art. They just think you’re doing something you love, 24/7 – so it must be easy, right? (Here’s a hint, it really isn’t). I’ve had to learn to manage a lot – depression, art blocks, anxiety, imposter syndrome, a lack of confidence. However, I’m learning and I think that I come out of every show a little bit stronger, and a bit more confident.
While it has not been a smooth road, I’ve been very lucky to have a strong support system behind me. My mother has been my biggest supporter since day one, even after I broke the news that I wanted to get a degree in art instead of veterinary medicine (she always joked that she’d rather me pursue poll dancing than an art degree because the money was better!). I’m incredibly thankful for her, my sister, my mentors, and my group of friends and artists that I’ve had at my side for the past four years. I wouldn’t be where I am now without all of them.
HumAlong Productions – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
At HumAlong Productions, I am the sole artist and creator. I specialize in relief printmaking, which is when a piece of work is carved into a matrix, then rolled with ink, and printed on paper (like a stamp, but more complicated). I work primarily with linoleum and more recently, I’ve been carving images into wood. All of my relief prints were hand carved and hand printed in my studio. Relief printmaking is an incredibly fun and physical process that very few people have been exposed to, so my work ends up having a unique look to it that sets me apart from other artists at shows.
I also enjoy intaglio printmaking, screen-printing, making paper-cut illustrations, and just going back to basics to work with graphite and ink.
My artistic style is very quirky. I take my love of horror stories and monsters, combine it with my dark sense of humor, and then use it to create work in a very bold graphic style. My work frequently features dinosaurs, skulls, zombie hands, and other creepy creatures. It’s fun watching people walk by at shows and galleries because my audience tends to be very split. They either are really excited about the works I create (which I love), or they give me really weird looks (which can be even better).
In 2019, my role at HumAlong Productions will also be expanding to cover my curating endeavors. I will be branching out to coordinate my own small pop-up art vending events and themed galleries.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moment of the career isn’t really a singular moment. It’s not a show success or a work of art I’ve created or had a celebrity come and buy something from me. What I’m most proud of are the people that I’ve reached with my artwork and hearing about how they incorporate it into their lives. It warms my soul when someone comes up to me at a show and tells me they’ve been looking for my booth because they saw my work online and connected with it or when they bring me a gift based on my artwork or tag me in pictures to show me how things I’ve created now exist in their homes and lives. For so long, I’ve collected works of art that inspire me and help me get through life and it blows my mind that I now have the opportunity to do that for other people. It’s an opportunity that I’m incredibly thankful for and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me.
- Website: www.humalongprod.com
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Instagram: instagram.com/humalongproductions
- Facebook: facebook.com/humalongprod
Marissa Suto of HumAlong Productions