Are you from Des Moines? If not, where are you from and when did you first come to Des Moines? I am not from Des Moines. I grew up in Western Iowa, in a very small town called Coon Rapids. I grew up around a lot of corn and farmers, but also a lot of wonderful people. I officially moved to Des Moines last May after I graduated college.
What are you favorite things about living in Des Moines? I have a few favorite things about Des Moines but I really love the amount of creativity in this city. I've always heard that Iowa City is creative and great for artists, but after spending six years there I will have to disagree, Des Moines is really where it's at.
What is your job by day? Project Manager/Graphic Designer at 87Central.
What medium/s of art do you practice? I practice a lot of different forms of art. Drawing and illustrations will always be my first love, but I have a deep seeded passion for printmaking, specifically intaglio and screen printing. I have also been obsessively needleworking for the past year and am now working on a lingerie line.
Basically, my life is defined by having too many craft supplies for different mediums and never enough space.
What drew you to art and sewing? I've wanted to be an artist for as long as I can remember, and drawing came naturally to me, I've been drawing ever since I could hold a pencil.
I was drawn to printmaking in college, because there is such a beautiful illustrative quality to the prints and the process of intaglio is intense: burning copper plates in acid and gearing up in full face mask to melt toxic rosin onto your plate. It feels pretty badass.
As for sewing and needlework, my grandmother introduced me to all things needle and thread. She taught me to crochet, knit, sew, and cross stitch. I feel the most connected to her when I'm stitching.
Why do you make art? I don't think I've ever asked myself that, honestly. I guess the basis of why I make art is that I always have, and I've always felt a passion for it and a release within it. But on a deeper level, I can channel my emotions through my work, and use it to invoke someone else's emotions, and that in itself is powerful. I just want to make people feel something.
What inspires you to make what you make? What inspires me depends on my medium. What inspires me to stitch is being anxious and needing something to do with my hands when I'm relaxing. I stitch a lot of stupid stuff, quotes from cult films, subversive text, etc.
What inspires me to create illustrations varies from day to day. Sometimes I'm just having a shit day and need to vent, so I draw something bitchy and feel better about it. Sometimes I'm missing the mountains and create an ode to them. But my favorite work, the stuff that I'm really proud of, is all related to sexual assault and abuse. My experience as a victim of sexual assault can be channeled into the figures that I've created, all of the terrible things I've felt can be represented, and I can give myself a chance to tell my story and spread awareness. I'm very passionate about this work, and hope I can continue to open people's eyes about what too many women have and will experience in their lifetime.
How do you keep yourself motivated? Motivation is my biggest struggle, honestly. I am motivated when I'm feeling creative, I want to make and do all of the things, but some days I can't bring myself to do anything creative. I haven't gotten over this hump yet, but I'm working on it.
What do you like about DSM Girl Gang? I love the community the Girl Gang has created. All of these women, who many probably would not have met otherwise, have the opportunity to talk, share ideas, and collaborate. Everyone promotes and supports one another in their ventures. It's like a giant sisterhood of creatives.
What do you like about yourself? At 25, I can finally say that I like a lot of things about myself. It took a long time to get to this place, but I'm happier for loving myself. I love my strength and resilience, I know that I can survive anything, as I've already been through so much. I love my artistic abilities, I'm proud of the work I create and the effect it can have on others. I'm learning to love my body, to appreciate it for keeping me alive, and to accept the beauty of it.
What do you want right now? From yourself? From your community? From your art? Right now, I want to focus on my lingerie line. To get everything in line to create beautiful garments that will make women of all sizes feel beautiful. I want to spend hours sewing and stitching, finding the perfect lace, the softest trim. I want to hear feedback from women about my products, and I want to hear that it made them feel confident and sexy. I want to make someone look in the mirror and say, 'damn girl, you look good,' because every woman should feel that way every single day.
What can we (the Girl Gang) do to help you/other artists/women? I think the Girl Gang can continue to support all women in their creative ventures. Sharing upcoming events, creating events for us to display our work, giving us an outlet to be creative as a community.
How have you cultivated your art over the years? How have you changed from when you started creating? My art has changed a lot in the past few years. I now use my art as a way to make people feel and want to act on those feelings, which is something that is relatively new to me but has definitely changed how I create. My work supports and stands for something, pushing people to feel uncomfortable and to hopefully want to do something about it. I'm no longer hiding meaning within my pieces, I'm shoving it down the viewers throat. It's more powerful and empowering.
What has had the greatest impact on you as an artist/creator? All of the struggles that I have endured in my life have had great impacts on me as an artist. My father's death, my mother's drug addiction, my sexual assault, an abusive relationship.. these are key moments in my life that have changed me. In some ways, they have hardened me, but they've also made me a strong woman who's not afraid to fight for herself and what she believes in. These moments in my life have also taught me that it's ok to be vulnerable, and to create something that will feel like an open sore when others see and dissect it. But wounds heal, and showing work like that and explaining it will make you stronger. It will light a fire within you to create work that speaks for what you've experienced, and that will push others to speak for their own experiences.
What is your next big goal? My next big goal is to officially launch my line. I'm kind of waiting around perfecting everything right now and it's driving me nuts. I'm impatient and very ready to show people what I've been working on. But I'm also trying to do things right, which is frustrating but will eventually be worth it.
You can find Mercedes on Instagram: @mrcdspotter