Are you ever mindlessly scrolling your Insta feed and suddenly a post makes you do the digital equivalent of a double-take, the fast scroll back- wait, what was that amazingness?? That’s what happened to me when I added illustrator Molly Egan’s Instagram account to my feed and time after time circled back to like, heart eye and ogle the back history. I love Molly’s bold use of color, unexpected cut-outs and layering and graphic shapes, but most of all I love how ebullient and seemingly effortless her illustrations are. @Mollytheillustrator makes me smile, think “I wish I did that,” and feel newly inspired, and after reading her unpretentious, glowy interview, I think you will too.
Berry from Trial by Inspiration: What prompted you to start your Instagram? Have you always been into painting and illustration?
Molly Egan @mollytheillustrator: I saw Instagram as being a good platform to display work and follow other creative people. Though I don’t love all of the changes they have made throughout the years, I’m really happy to have met some wonderful people through it. It’s a great place to get feedback and build your business.
I’ve always been into art. I didn’t realize how long I’ve wanted this until I visited my parent’s house and was looking through things I made when I was a kid. A book I made, I think in second grade, proudly said that I wanted to be an artist when I grew up. I thought that was pretty cool!
TBI: Where do you reside? Tell us a little about your city
ME: I’ve lived in Philadelphia, PA for about six years now. Though I’ve tossed around the idea of moving, I genuinely love this city. There are so many small, local businesses here, which means a lot to me. But I’m not going to lie, I miss grass almost every day.
TBI: Both your sketchbooks and published work have such a playful, exuberant, layered style, is your illustration process as fun and unencumbered as it looks?
ME: Thank you! For the most part, yes, but I have my days where things just aren’t clicking. Typically when I do something I don’t like, especially in my sketchbook, I’ll just cover everything in a dark color and start from scratch.
TBI: I love following your mini sketchbooks! Tell us more about how these started and how you stay motivated to keep sketching.
ME: I saw people’s 100-day projects popping up and thought I should give one a try.
There are some days where I didn’t want to do a sketchbook page, so I would always try to be a day or two ahead. Maybe I’m a cheater! For the most part though, working in my sketchbook is a release, and I’d be excited to get home and start working.
TBI: If you had to choose, are you more rewarded by your creative process or the end product?
ME: I’d say the creative process. There are a lot of pieces I’ve done that I don’t like now, but they taught me things while I was working on them.
TBI: Outside of your work and medium, where do you find inspiration?
ME: Right now, I’m really interested in Dymkovo toys, Otomi embroidery, Pennsylvania Dutch birth certificates, and retro textiles. A very random collection of things, I know. I also look a lot at runway shows to get inspiration for the clothes my people wear.
TBI: Do you have any tips for how to get unstuck creatively, when you can’t find your muse?
ME: I go through my catalogs of inspiration folders that I’ve made on Google Drive. It’s full of pictures I’ve taken on trips, pictures from books, and random things I’ve found on the internet and saved. Normally that helps, but sometimes I just need to take a step back and go to the public pool or on a bike ride.
TBI: Do you have a day job? How do you balance your professional time with your creative time?
ME: I do have a day job. It’s challenging but is a necessity for me at this point. It’s mostly about forcing myself to go into my studio when I get home instead of sitting on the couch. Sometimes I’m mumbling and grumbling to myself initially, but I’m always happy I spent the time in the studio instead.