Meet The Artist is a mini interview series where you’ll find out a little bit about the person and inspiration behind some very cute shops and products. Today I’m chatting with painter, illustrator and author Susie of Boygirlparty about her work and inspirations, hobbies and fighting art theft.
Hello! Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
My name is Susie Ghahremani (gair-uh-mah-nee). I’m an illustrator/author of picture books, a designer who creates paper products and wearable gifts called Boygirlparty, an artist who exhibits paintings internationally, and a generally curious person.
I live in San Diego, California, United States — a beautiful amalgamation of land and sea, and a place with the most migratory birds in the country. I go camping about once a month, and living here definitely has deepened my connection to nature and has changed my use of color. San Diego is also an extremely international city. It’s right on the border of Mexico, and there is a presence of so many cultures (including mine — Persian).
In California, we’re also situated near some of the most beautiful national and state parks in the country — Yosemite, Sequoia, King’s Canyon, Big Sur, the Channel Islands, the Redwoods.. there is no shortage of awe-inspiring beauty here.
Originally I’m from Chicago, IL (Highland Park, actually – where one of the most recent mass shootings happened) then lived in Providence, RI during and after college at the Rhode Island School of Design. Everywhere I’ve lived has influenced my work in a profound way.
Tell us about one of your recent creations and what inspired it
This is a miniature painting I created for Giant Robot in Los Angeles, and later was released as a sold out print edition through Tiny Showcase. It was created to commemorate this lunar new year — the Year of the Tiger. I’m hoping for a cozy year of reading. So far so good. I created it using a limited color palette, painted in gouache on a piece of plywood, about 4” high, so it’s quite tiny!
What else have you been working on recently?
I’m currently working on illustrating a picture book in collaboration with my mom. It’s called MEMORY GARDEN and will be published in 2024 by Godwin Books / Macmillan. I also currently am exhibiting paintings in Los Angeles; Portsmouth, NH; and Joshua Tree. I’m about to release a collection of enamel pins, bookplates, and greeting cards.
You’ve been very open about your struggles with art theft – how does it affect you and how can buyers help to stop it happening?
I absolutely rely on customers and fans and people who are familiar enough with my work to tell me about when they see a copy. Literally every legal case I’ve had was a result of someone informing me they saw a copy of my work, and I wouldn’t be able to stand up for my artwork without that support — I appreciate it so much! If you see a copy of an artist’s work, let them know!!!
At the same time, there’s not always something I can do about the copies, which can be incredibly demoralizing.
When I can fight back, it’s time-consuming and invasive to fight in court; the cost of copyright registrations is significant, as are court filing costs. Sometimes the companies I’m fighting in court are multi-billion dollar companies like Shein who have all the resources in the world to fight back just because they can.
I also spend an unreasonable amount of time chasing after copies online using systems like DMCA takedowns. Those copies are sometimes being made by other people/companies who identify themselves as the designer of my designs, sold on sites like Etsy where I also sell my work! It impacts my ability to both make a living as an artist, to have artwork that can be perceived as unique in the market, and to just feel a sense of safety in sharing my work. Protecting my artwork is a daily pursuit and sometimes it occupies more of my time than the actual art-making.
Sometimes I feel empowered — like I’m standing up for myself and all other artists, and it emboldens me to keep going. One of my recent cases even set a legal precedent that will help other artists protect themselves in court! Other times, I feel overwhelmed and just depressed that the making and sharing of artwork can become a source of pain in my life. This has been happening to me for literally decades and I probably won’t ever feel it’s an acceptable part of my life, so I keep fighting for my art.
What advice or tips would you give to artists and creators that are just starting out?
Re: theft — Put a copyright credit on your work, wherever it appears!
Re: creativity – make things just for fun and keep learning!
Re: production – The trope “you’ve got to spend money to make money” is simply not true. Invest within your means and see what resonates with your friends, family, community, etc.
Do you have any fun collections or hobbies?
I’m personally interested in pen and ink — it’s something I explore out of my own curiosity and not for a professional result. I recently made my own pen, and I’ve been drawing with it in my sketchbook every day.
I also go to a ceramics studio every week! I really love building ceramics by hand — both because I’m terrible at it, and because it doesn’t need to be anything but fun. I feel like a kid when I’m at the studio, and I make creative discoveries I can bring back to my artwork in other ways! My biggest project there so far has been building a doll-sized tea set for my niece. I tend to make tiny things there!
Also, I used to collect typewriters, I have a few really cool analog synthesizers, and I’m a fan of ALL things snail-mail related.
Which creators do you enjoy following at the moment?
I am absolutely obsessed with these soundtracks on Youtube created by Nemo’s Dreamscapes. With the sounds of a muffled AM radio playing music of the 40s over ambient sounds like rainstorms, they really set the mood in my studio.
I’ve got to give a shoutout to the Linda Lindas!!
Also, I belong to a wonderful, international, virtual co-working community called CaveDay that meets daily online for focused sessions — kind of like a study hour. The group accountability helps me attend to my most challenging work without resistance. Highly recommended.
You can find out more about Susie’s work on her website, buy art prints, books, stationery, pins and more at the Boygirlparty shop (US – ships worldwide) or support her on Patreon. You can also follow @boygirlparty on Instagram, Twitter and TikTok.
Browse our Super Cute Creators category for more artist and maker interviews.
Marceline is the co-founder and editor of Super Cute Kawaii and author of The Super Cute Book of Kawaii. She also designs cute character goods as Asking For Trouble. Having visited Japan five times, Marceline is enormously inspired by all things Japanese and especially loves bunnies, space and any kind of food object with a happy face.