We had the good fortune of connecting with Megan Fowler and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Megan , can you tell us about a book that has had a meaningful impact on you?
If I am being honest, I don’t sit down and read books very often, but I do binge listen to different E-books several times a week while painting. I really enjoy art history novels and artists’ biographies. A recent book I devoured that has really stuck with me is Trainwreck: The Women We Love to Hate, Mock, and Fear, and Why. It presented very interesting issues, some of which I had previously experienced and some that I had never considered. It really encouraged me to take a look at all the ways I might be contributing to the problem with how women are valued and presented in society. I found myself reflecting on notions I just accepted without any attempt to understand the context, something I was especially guilty of when I was younger. At the same time it never crosses the line into blame or biases against any particular group of individuals. Even if you aren’t generally into that kind of thing, I think it’s at least a book many millennials could appreciate, as it reflects on many of the idols we grew up listening to, watching or reading about.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Unlike many of my schoolmates I didn’t love to sketch. I think I really had a lot to say and it was difficult for me to just start sketching anything and everything. I found I was best able to get what I wanted across by writing what I was trying to say first; not that I’m a good writer, but I had to get the words down first to help unscramble all of the intense thoughts and feelings I had for any particular subject. I would write pages to get a concept across then try to condense it down to the real “meat” of what I meant. From there I would have a clear enough direction to make sketches and create the final image. Even when I was creating works much lighter in conceptual meaning, the concept is what has always motivated me, and my images come directly from the concepts. I’m not sure whether it is a “good or bad thing”, but it is something that I’ve always appreciated about my work. I’m definitely most proud of where my art has taken me in the last year or so. I have almost exclusively focused on the subject matter I am most passionate about, the figure, and have experienced what I can only described as intense growth spirts in my technical and conceptual ability. Some years you work endless hours and see very little progress from painting to painting and I think as artists, the moments we live for are those when we can see the hard work paying off in some way. I just try to make each new painting the best I’ve done and it has helped me grow a lot. I don’t think any career path is easy but I do think they all present different challenges. Going into any creative field can be both liberating and anxiety inducing. There are very little “knowns” and it comes with technical and emotional challenges. Contrary to the stereotype artists sometimes get, making a career of art takes extreme dedication, and the ability to manage all of the positions in any typical small business. You are responsible for every role from concept, production, logistics, marketing, and beyond. Its invigorating and often humbling. I think the pressure does broaden your perspective and appreciation though. It’s easy to have the understanding that people in creative fields are sort of floating through life without a care in the world. It could be true in some cases, but on a deeper spectrum creating is intense. It is getting to know yourself in ways you might not be ready for. Its learning to open yourself up to every type of culture and opinion, and deeply reflecting on your own. It is putting your whole self out there, in concept and physicality, which requires vulnerability and being open to criticism. On a simpler level, it is learning to see things around you as they actually are in space, rather than how you interpret them, which in itself is challenging. I certainly got here thanks to a strong support system and hard work. I find the strength to keep pushing on the hard days by reminding myself of why I am doing this. I believe that life is so complicated and controversial, but also beautiful. Art is the only thing that has ever made me feel comfortable enough to say what I think to an audience. Although art can be interpreted in different ways, I have more control of the narrative. Language comes so easy, often we all say things we don’t mean; or we don’t have the knowledge to understand how we come across to others. My artwork is a labor of love that is deliberate and thoughtful. I often catch myself second guessing something I’ve said but I’m never compelled to second guess something I’ve painted, even though I’m usually “saying” a lot more in my paintings than I ever would in words. What I’ve learned and am honestly still trying to implement is not to take myself so seriously. I believe you have to work really hard and learn to accept a broader understanding of what success means, then really relish in those moments of success. I think you also have to develop the ability to recognize and appreciate your experiences, negative and positive, without becoming complacent, falling into the role of a victim, or allowing yourself to be consumed with resentment. What I strive to present in Megan Fowler ART is the story of real people. My brand is a very personal one that was built around my own issues, experiences, and opinions but I think it has grown into something bigger. The most beautiful people with the most amazing stories are all around us but for a million different reasons, we don’t give ourselves the opportunity to know them. I find true completion when I find someone who’s story can relate to the darkest pages of mine and possibly open my mind to injustices I’ve never had to face. If you can bring just the right moment to life, you can stand in front of your own painting and become overwhelmed with emotion. I believe that is when you have something that has the potential to captivate an audience. I think, because when you are trying to tell a story that resonates with you but is bigger than just your own, you feel some semblance of unity and truth. That’s what these paintings are all about. Presenting something that resonates with us all and simultaneously touches something a little different in everyone, based on their experiences.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
My absolute favorite place to spend a Friday night is FreeMarket Gallery. I have met so many interesting and diverse groups of people there. The artwork displayed is some of the best in Atlanta; very upscale but affordable, and you aren’t confronted with the intimidating atmosphere found in some high-end galleries. It’s really a place for people of all walks of life to socialize and experience great work from local artists. The owners, too, are really interesting people who have an inspiring outlook on art and it’s potential to fit into the business world. We would also have to visit a few of Atlanta’s great arts festivals, Monday Night Garage, the beltline, and The Painted Duck. For dinner we would have to finish up each day eating at some of my favorite restaurants like, Box car, TWO Urban Licks, Barcelona Wine Bar, and Corner Tavern.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Hands down I have to dedicate this shoutout to my incredible models. Their willingness to be vulnerable, physically and emotionally, is inspiring; especially through the brief interview I start with, which isn’t meant to be intrusive, but can get deep. We then jump straight into the actual photoshoot, where I begin by encouraging them to pose in specific ways related to a particular concept I have in mind, which typically leads to their own personality, feelings and general “way of being” coming forth in the poses. In that way I believe it is personal for both of us. I like to think that by the end we have created something new together. Something bigger than any one individual’s perspective. It’s a collaborative truth, and therefore, hopefully, a “greater truth”. Beyond that I am genuinely grateful for their willingness just to show up. The reality is that my concepts cannot be effectively brought to life without my models. Who they are, their aesthetics, the entire life of knowledge and experience they bring, are all imperative to the process. They are the concept in many ways. They are all “normal” people, none of them professional models, which is also critical to the work. They bring the soul and expression to each piece and help present, in a very authentic way, what feminine means; not in a contrived, superficial magazine or movie type of representation, but a genuine, whole and respectful representation. I have created my best work in the last year, thanks in large part to them. As far as getting me where I am today, I can’t say enough about the support of my entire family. My grandparents were always my biggest fans growing up, especially my grandfather. I honestly felt like an artist at age eight due purely to his enthusiasm over my Looney Toons doodles. Without theirs and my parent’s encouragement I’m not sure I would have developed the confidence to go for a career as risky as art. I would also be doing a major disservice if I did not mention the mentors that, in many ways, taught me much of what I know technique-wise. I had a pivotal moment in my artwork in high school, fostered primarily by two faculty members, Grayson Day and Cedric Corse. Then another in college, influenced largely by Hatidza Mulic, a faculty member at The University of Georgia. She not only broadened my understanding of materials and techniques, but also truly opened the floodgates to my conceptual abilities. She asked me questions I’d never been asked. She had firm, confident opinions and somehow maintained the ability to create an environment where the students knew they could say exactly what they think and feel about any subject, controversial or not, and regardless of whether they were in line with her own views. Nothing was wrong and nothing was unspeakable. She is still the most brilliant person I’ve met. I also can’t thank my patrons enough. I could paint from morning to night until I’m dead but without those willing patrons that really understand and appreciate the work I wouldn’t be able to dedicate my life to creating.

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