The incomparable Nilah Magruder joins FIYAH’s family of artists as the creator of our Issue #17 cover! We asked her about her craft and some of the other stuff she’s into in an interview below.
1) What inspired you to originally want to be an artist?
ORIGINALLY originally – it’s because I was pretty bad at it, even by kindergartener standards. It felt like a failing that I couldn’t color as well as my classmates, and so I really committed to being the best artist I could be. I was bad at other things as a kid so I don’t know why I committed to this particular thing and nothing else.
2) What advice would you have for people looking to become an artist as a career? What are some of the highs and lows they can expect?
There’s a wide range of roles and experiences in the art industry, so it’s hard to make a pithy statement about what one can expect as an artist. I will say, in general, it’s not just about technique. I advise paying attention to other disciplines and wells of knowledge. Learn history, sciences, languages, play sports, volunteer in your community, talk to people and listen to their stories, travel and experience life – these are the things that will inform your art. Learn about money, saving and investing, managing a small business, and taxes – yes it’s boring and confusing to start, but it will come up and it’s best to get an early start. You can expect a lot of rejections on the road to where you’re trying to go, and maybe you’ll never really feel like you’ve “made it,” and that’s normal. But if you’re lucky, you’ll find some contentment in the work and develop lifelong friendships.
3) What would you say have been the top highlights of your artistic career so far?
I’ve been freelancing full-time for three years now. I keep thinking eventually I’m going to have to shut this down and go back to an office job, but so far it’s working out!
4) Who are some of your favorite artists currently?
I really enjoy the work of Ejiwa Ebenebe, Erin Vest, Aspen (aspen eyes), and nephelomancer.
5) What inspired the FIYAH cover piece? Was it one particular thing or a convergence of different inspirations?
Black love. And I’ve been reading some old Arthurian tales this year and lately I’ve really had the idea of Black knights on the brain.
6) What are some of your favorite animated shows/movies? Past and/or present.
Haikyuu!!, Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
7) What projects do you have coming down the pipeline? Anything you’re particularly excited about?
I’ve got a picture book coming out called Wutaryoo, and a middle-grade graphic novel called Creaky Acres. My next book was recently announced, it’s called Reel Love and it’s my first graphic memoir.
8) Tell us where we can find you. Social media, website etc.?
Twitter: @nilaffle 
Instagram: @nilahmagruder 
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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