Artist Spotlight: Leigha Garcia George

Leigha Garcia George

is a Latinx comics artist, geek, former librarian, and mother from Ohio. Since she could hold a pencil, she has loved drawing stories. As an artist and storyteller, she is passionate about sharing stories to bring others joy, comfort, and a knowledge that they are not alone. 

Leigha has a BFA in Printmaking from Ohio University with an emphasis in screenprinting and non-traditional bookmaking, as well as a MLIS from Kent State University. When she’s not struggling to survive a global pandemic with two toddlers, you can find her volunteering with various political campaigns, reexamining the entire Star Wars canon, or stress cleaning.

Instagram: @ellegeorgina
Tumblr: @youlikesuketchi

​​What is your artist name?
Leigha Garcia-George

Which city are you currently working from?
North Liberty, Iowa 

What is your education, professional experience, awards, etc.
I have a BFA in Printmaking from Ohio University and an MLIS from Kent State University. Once upon a time I was lucky to have a print assistant gig for my professors Art Werger and Karla Hackenmiller, which was incredible to get that experience with professionals. 

What is your personal creative background? (When did you start, what did you do? Where did it go from there?) 
Since I was a kid, I was always drawing and writing. I was particularly drawn to comics for the art/storytelling combo, animation and picture books. Growing up, I aspired to go into animation, or comics. I’ve always loved telling stories, and used to write (really terrible) novels as a kid. It was a dream to illustrate all the stories I had. From there, for one reason or another, it morphed into an intention to major in photography in college until a drawing professor encouraged me to check out printmaking. Since graduation, I became a librarian and most recently a mom- where I can use my creative background in all sorts of fun ways.  

Who are your main influences?
I have so many! But my earliest influences were Bill Watterson, George Lucas, and authors like C.S. Lewis and Tolkien. And my life would not be the same without the powerful influence of my childhood public library. Hayao Miyazaki remains a constant in my young and adult life, but more recent influences would be children’s book illustrators Virginia Lee Burton and Christian Robinson. 

What type of artist would you call yourself primarily?
An illustrator. 

What other types of art do you enjoy?
I love embroidery- I learned how to quilt about 10 years ago now and always quilted by hand. I also love music. I played a ton of instruments growing up and wish it was still a thing in my life. I also (not so secretly) aspired to be an actress at some point. 

When you joined Art Office, what did your creative practice look like? (What were you working on, how often, how well?)
I’m judging myself hard here when I say it was virtually (pun intended) non-existent. But I was doing a lot of making- whether through cutesy lunches for my kids or baking/homemaking. But as far as illustration/comic making, the pandemic for sure put a damper on that for me as a full-time mom. 

What are some challenges and strengths that you had at that time?
Biggest challenge was not having the time to work on art. My kids were pulled from their part-time preschool, and my husband is an essential worker who didn’t have an option for working from home. We made it work, so I’d say my biggest strength was/is having a very supportive partner who always makes sure I do have the time for my creative practice. 

How did Art Office play a role in addressing those challenges and strengths?
Art Office gave me a routine and accountability for my art making.It was an extra support system of people in similar situations. 

What was one thing that stood out in your time in the program, that helped you in some way or showed you a new way of thinking about something?
Oh gosh, there are really so many things that have now just become a part of my life that it is hard to pick out any specifics. But having that support system to bounce ideas off of, or having someone give input into my process/work was and is still very helpful.  

What was your final project/presentation?
The one I was present for was the Dia de los Muertos ofrenda that I made for my grandparents. I’m Mexican-American, and my grandparents were truly my biggest support in my life. I had been setting up a makeshift ofrenda for years but wanted to create something more permanent that I could use every year. While working on it, I did realize that it’s probably a project that is more of a journey than a destination, so while I “finished” the work, I don’t know if it will ever truly be complete. I’ll add things here and there each year, I’m sure. 

What tools has Art Office given you to apply to your daily practice outside the program?
Setting up a routine, holding myself accountable to following through with projects. I’m one of those people who starts a lot of projects and leaves them unfinished. Or even worse, starts something and gets frustrated, and gives up. Art Office really helped me see a project through, and realize that seeing that project through is how the magic happens. 

Name one thing you would change about Art Office?
Hm. I’d love to see everyone in person in a studio space, but I also love the virtual aspect as well. 

What are you working on now?
Music/movies, etc, are heavy influences on me. I’ve been working on a collage (trying something new) of Elton John, as well as few digital drawings of various movie characters. I think I’m mostly just trying to show up each day and work on something- hoping something will turn into illustration portfolio worthiness? One goal I do have currently is to get back into screenprinting. I’d like to successfully make some stencils and an actual print to show for it. 

What are your professional/creative goals?
I’d love to be published one day. Either as an author or illustrator or both. 

What is your dream project?
Creating a stop motion animation. 

Any plugs? Social media, events, collaborations?
I’m currently working on a bookstagram! I didn’t feel like that fit in with ‘creative projects” but I guess it totally does?!  I always have like eight million suggestions for children’s books, and I’m very passionate about them, so I figured it was about time to get on it. You can find that (when it gets going) @ YoLibraryLady on instagram. Also my art @ leighamakes!

Where can people find you online?
Ah, wherever rabid fans of Star Wars be (and anything affiliated with it), as well as a gagillion different gentle parenting blogs and podcasts.  

Where might people find you on a Sunday afternoon?
The grocery store? Ugggh, but really, my weekend mornings are devoted to the fun stuff like bike rides in my cargo bike and picnics in the park with the kids. Afternoons (also known as “nap time”) are for the crap we just gotta do.