Artist Mariama Alizor provided the artwork for our Issue 7: Music issue. We fired off some interview questions to learn more about her work.

Cover of FIYAH #7: Music. Artwork by Mariama Alizor1: Do you remember the moment when you knew you wanted to become an artist?

A: I remember when I was younger comics of my characters and stapling all the papers to a manila folder. It was my first “book” and I couldn’t have been more excited, at that point I wanted to draw and create more.

2:   What is the primary fuel for your work? Where do you draw inspiration?

A: A lot of my work is made from an emotional perspective, and are tied to my nostalgic memories and  love for cute vintage aesthetics. As a kid my abuela would play old fashion cartoons for me, Felix the Cat, Little Lulu, Betty Boop, Pinocchio, and Popeye were a few I loved.  I couldn’t get over the cute designs, the subtle grain, and the soft dreamy colors!Unfortunately, one of the biggest issues I had with the cartoons were seeing how people of color especially black people were portrayed in some of these shows. I want to use the Inspiration I got from those old fashion cartoons and make something better with no terrible racist overtones but all the cute bouncy charm! I guess in the end I just want to share an enjoyable experience through my art.

3: If you could reach back into the past and give advice to yourself when you were just starting out, what would it be?

A: My advice would be to definitely slow down, make tons of mistakes, learn from those mistakes and experiment more. Also to never forget why I started drawing in the first place. Also use more reference, god that would have saved lots of time if I didn’t feel ashamed to do so…

4: What advice would you give to other black artists looking to make a mark?

Don’t let other people turn you into their work horse. Remember your boundaries and that they are meant to keep you emotionally healthy and safe. You won’t be able to help anyone in the long run if you overwork and neglect yourself. There will be times people wont see what makes you special, and will overlook and try to make you feel incompetent, esp as a black artist. Just remember the people that love and support you and your own sense of self love for your work.

5: What elements did you bring into your FIYAH cover and were you trying to make?

My idea was of a magical girl that fights monsters with the power of music, they also have a band and throw concerts. I wish there were more cool scifi/fantasy tv shows with black heroines especially magical girls!! You rarely see it in mainstream media (done properly) and there needs to be way more!!

6: How do you feel about the future of black SFF across media forms and what might its audience look like ten years from now?

With the internet and people being able to share their work, I think it definitely helps open up spaces for diverse voices. As black people, we’re very creative and innovative despite the bullshit we’re given on a daily, it’s almost like the story of spinning hay into gold. We can make some really breathtaking  beautiful things and I really want people to see that beauty, and see what we can create from our experiences, and I think more people are being receptive to that.

7: If you were put in charge of concept art for a movie adaptation of any property what would it be and why?

Oof… thats hard uhhhh… maybe it would be cool to do a betty boop adaption, I feel like there’s a lot you could play with in terms of concept and design. It would be pretty dope to transform that character yet keep her adorable charm. That or I’d reboot Michiko to Hatchin, because I’m still not over how great that show was!!

8: Who is an artist that you’re really feeling at the moment?

@nishiko24 Has always been a real favorite of mine. I love the atmosphere and lighting but not only that, the sense of wonder, gentleness and nostalgia their work gives…It just  takes me to a place in a better time as a young child enjoying nature! Another artists whose work I always go back to is Gustav Teggren! He was one of the concept artists that worked on pinocchio and snow white. My favorite piece of his is the one of Pinocchio stuck in a bird cage. The way it’s executed is so good and gives me chills!  

9: What would be your absolute dream project?

Its always been a real dream to create a 2d point click adventure game, I want to make something that looks like a classic 2D animated film, but also pays homage to all the great adventure games I played as a kid! The Monkey island series, grim fandango, and other LucasArt games were some favorites. I definitely would make a game starring my character Froyo Knight!

10: Tell us where we can find you. Drop some links!

I’m a Color Stylist located in LA working in animation, and am looking for new projects and productions to work on. You can find my portfolio at and as well as Instagram where I post often! I also was the lead colorstylist on Tbs’s Final Space!

L.D. Lewis is an award-winning SF/F writer and editor, and publisher at Fireside Magazine. She serves as a founding creator and Project Manager for the World Fantasy and Hugo Award-winning FIYAH Literary Magazine. She also serves as the founding Director of FIYAHCON, boardmember for Diverse Voices, Inc., Researcher for the LeVar Burton Reads podcast, and pays the bills as the Awards Manager for the Lambda Literary Foundation. She frequently authors studies about the treatment and experiences of racially/ethnically marginalized authors in speculative literature. She is the author of A Ruin of Shadows (Dancing Star Press, 2018) and her published short fiction and poetry includes appearances in FIYAH, PodCastle, Strange Horizons, Anathema: Spec from the Margins, Lightspeed, and Neon Hemlock, among others. She lives in Georgia, on perpetual deadline, with her coffee habit, two very photogenic kittens, and an impressive Funko Pop! collection. Tweet her @ellethevillain.
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