If you don’t know her by now, we’re not sure where you’ve been! Tillie Walden – creator of one of the inaugural titles in our Mini Meditations series, Mini Meditations on Creativity – is the breakout star of the comics world, now with an Eisner Award under her belt for her graphic memoir Spinning.
Tillie is a bold, prolific and fascinating storyteller whose ideas and words carry even weight with her phenomenal illustrations. We highly recommend you get up to speed with her previous titles and her gorgeous webcomic, On a Sunbeam, which will be out in hardcover from Avery Hill this autumn!
We were thrilled when Tillie agreed to create Mini Meditations on Creativity with us, especially because her view on the subject is so nuanced. She writes in the introduction to the book, “What I think gets forgotten about in the conversation around creativity is the part of the equation where you have to work.” Ideas are one thing, but the willpower to see them through is equally important! We feel that Tillie is an artist with plenty to say and the endurance to get the message across.
We’ve asked Tillie a few questions to help you get to know this wonderful creator better:
Hi Tillie, how’s it going? To start things off, we’re curious about your daily routine. How do you get the work done?
Good morning! My routine changes somewhat. I really crave to be the kind of person that has a religious routine, but because I travel so much for work that has yet to happen for me. My mornings start off pretty simple lately, coffee, books, shower. And then I start working around 8, and I go to a coworking space near my house so it actually feels like I’m going to the office. When I’m there, I get everything done. I end up ‘clocking out’ around 4, go home and work on my jigsaw puzzle and watch TV. It’s a good life.
As a young, prolific creator, I imagine people assume that ideas ‘just come to you’, although we know there’s more to it than that! How do you incubate an idea into a fuller concept? Does the story come before the art, or vice versa, or does it vary for you?
The art tends to come first. Then emotions tend to come. I start to ask myself how the emotions and art collide, and what the questions are in this story (ex. What does this person want?) But this isn’t really something I do a lot! I come up with an idea and then I end up working on the project for ages. The majority of my time is spent executing ideas, not coming up with them. It’s a big misconception about being a working creative.
You’ve accomplished so much already, but we can’t help but wonder… are you getting sick of people referring to your age yet?
YES. Good lord.
After quite a few nominations already, how does it feel to have won an Eisner? Does this feel more prestigious than the other awards you’ve won thus far?
It felt really good, especially since I was at the ceremony with my publishers, my agent, and a lot of friends in the industry. It felt good to win as a 22 year old. It felt good to win as a woman. It felt good to win as a lesbian.
Spinning was a truly fantastic and eye-opening memoir – and it seemed to be a lot more personal than some of your other projects. How did that affect you as a writer and artist? Was it more difficult to tell your own life story rather than one that you created?
Memoirs are much harder than fiction, though, I say that, and the fiction I’m working on now is quite difficult. Maybe it’s all hard? I feel like being vulnerable in any capacity is scary and challenging, and it required a lot of growth for me to make Spinning and the book I’m working on now.
What’s next for Tillie Walden? Any sketchbook pages we can peek at?!
Gah! What’s next. Many things that I can’t talk about yet! I’m busy working on a book. And another book. And I have some other things in the works. Sigh, who knows. If I had time to sketch right now I’d share some sketches, but I’m in graphic novel crunch mode so I got nothing!
* * *