tragic girls – art inspired by old comic books, horror films and feelings
If we're being honest, we've never met a cartoon clique more relatable than the Tragic Girls. These sarcastic, perennially 'over it' characters are the work of Salt Lake City artist Katie Mansfield. We caught up with Katie in issue 102 to hear more about her emotional comics.
Hello! Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do. Hey, hey! I’m Katie and I’m the artist behind Tragic Girls! I love retro comics, horror movies, tattoos and lowbrow/pop art. I live with my partner and my poodle in a little apartment in Salt Lake City in the US, and I spend most of my time drawing.
What is Tragic Girls and how did it come to be? Tragic Girls is my art and apparel brand. It all started with my love of retro comic-looking pop art. I’ve been making silly comics my whole life, and a few years back I decided I would actually start trying to get my artwork out there. I began posting it online and several years later, here we are!What drew you to this vintage style of art? I’ve always loved vintage and nostalgic things. I’m not really sure why. Whether it’s old jazz music, vintage fashion or retro art, I love it all. But I think that particular style of art in vintage comics and advertisements had a really fun quirkiness about it that I love.
Talk us through some of the themes you like to cover in your work. From the beginning, I’ve always liked to put feminist messages in my artwork. A lot of retro art that I draw inspiration from can actually be pretty sexist, so I really like the juxtaposition of the retro style and feminist approach. I also like to explore the vast array of human emotions in my work. People feel a lot of complicated things, and I think it’s important to explore those feelings and allow people to relate to each other through my work.Is making art therapeutic for you? Art is definitely very therapeutic for me. I think it is for everyone. Art helps me express what I’m thinking and feeling, and that allows me to better relate to others. Whether it’s creating art that deals with mental health issues or social issues in the world, I think it’s important to share and talk about these things.
How do you want people to feel when they look at your stuff? More than anything, I just want people to be able to laugh at the sometimes sad or cynical things we feel. It makes life a little easier. We all feel sad, mad, anxious or jealous, and that’s normal. I hope my work can inspire others to feel less embarrassed or self-conscious about feeling those things, and I hope to inspire people to feel empathy for others going through them.Where do you do most of your illustration? I do most of my drawing in my apartment, on the floor, in front of the TV while watching silly reality shows or listening to emo music. For some reason, it helps me focus to have trash playing or nostalgic music from when I was a kid. I do also have a little studio where I do all my order fulfilment! It’s basically just a room filled with shelves of shirts and sweaters and everything I sell.
What are you working on at the moment? I am very slowly starting my own comic book. I’ve always wanted to create a full-on comic, but it’s been hard to find the time. I’m still in the very early stages of writing and coming up with characters, but I’m excited to finally get this project going!What’s one thing we should know about you? I think a lot of people forget there are real people behind all those online accounts we interact with every day. I’m just an art nerd who loves horror movies and hanging out with my dog, and eats probably way too many French fries. I’ve worked very hard to get where I am, but I hope I can inspire people to take that leap and follow their passions, because it’s possible to do what you love.
Where can we see more of your stuff? Online at tragicgirlsco.com or on Instagram at @tragicgirls.co.