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Arts & Crafts - Marissa Paternoster of Screaming Females

We talked to the brazen punk frontwoman about why "drawing is way cool."


Arts & Crafts is a new column that explores the "extracurriculars" our favorite artists get up to when they're not busy making music we love.

Most of us know Marissa Paternoster as the guitar-shredding, wailing frontwoman for Screaming Females. If that wasn’t enough, she’s also an amazing artist who creates meticulously drawn illustrations and murals. Paternoster co-founded Doodledrag, an art collective that puts together unique, fun projects to provide anyone and everyone with a creative outlet. Pretty rad. We wanted to find out more about Marissa’s doodle-inspired artwork.

I know that your mom was an art teacher in Elizabeth, NJ. Did that influence your interest in art growing up?
My mom showed me a lot of the basics at a very young age. She had me thoroughly convinced that I would grow up to be a critically-acclaimed artist and go to Cooper Union or Rhode Island School of Design of something. We had a lot of coffee table books in the house—Frida Kahlo, Diane Arbus, Robert Mapplethorpe—plus a lot of art history texts that I could barely understand but I'd spend hours looking at the photographs. Not to mention MAD Magazine and Ren & Stimpy...

What did you study at Mason Gross School of the Arts?
I have a BFA in drawing and painting. I would have opted for a degree in illustration, but it wasn't available at the school. I'm a pretty terrible painter.

A lot of your illustrations are extremely detailed and intricate. How long do you typically work on your pieces? What piece has taken the most time?
It depends on the size. I usually spend days and days on proper drawings. I have some 18x24 stuff in my draft room now that I've already invested over 24 hours in. I have a little tendonitis, so if I draw for too long my hand starts to seize.

Do you set out to create album artwork specifically for the albums or were they pieces you had already been working on?

When it comes time to make a Screaming Females album cover, I usually just look at my most recent drawings and pull ideas and imagery from those. I often draw figures separately then create composite images in Photoshop. It gives me a lot more freedom. So every album is a snapshot of that era, the music and the visuals. All of the content is representative of our collective experience.

Do you consider yourself a musician foremost and an artist second, or vice versa?
I mean, the two go hand-in-hand for me, I guess. I couldn't possible have one without the other, so it'd be silly for me to rank them.

Do you find that music influences your art? Or the other way around? Or both?
Like I said before, the two things are intrinsically intertwined. I was drawing long before I knew anything about punk, but I need both to keep me going.

Can you describe, in your own words, what Doodledrag is? How did it come into being?
Doodledrag is a drawing collective I began with my friend LNY. He's a fantastic artist and we've been friends for a really long time. LNY and I had always wanted to make work together, and I was griping to him one day about how the folks at punk shows have this sensational sense of camaraderie, and how I wish independent artists gathered in that same fashion making art with one another. The "purpose" behind Doodledrag is to encourage all people—of any shape, color, or form—to participate in an act of creativity that has no means to an end. To create for the sheer joy of making, which is a distinctly human act that goes back to the dawn of civilization. Sadly, we haven't done much in a while, since LNY and I travel so often.

Tell me about your contribution to the Death By Audio mural.

I used to have this ridiculous Mickey Mouse painting up at DBA, and when I got sick of it, I ran into Edan (who runs DBA) and asked if I could paint over it. I painted the giant white figures with the dogs, then LNY came in and added a huge portrait of Edan and some pretty neat fart clouds.

Do you participate in many art shows, or do Screaming Females and your other projects not allow time for that? Any art shows coming up?

I don't really participate in the art world too much. Sometimes I'll submit some stuff to small shows when people ask. I'd love dip my foot in more, but I just haven't got the time or a proper portfolio.

You can find more of Marissa's work on her blog.

@teedunc