On the 27th of October 2020, a stone’s throw away from London’s Kew Gardens,
we visited Tatiana and her foulmouthed dog Ja’Crispy.
An Inspired Comic Artist and Her Potty Mouthed Dog
Tatiana is a hilarious comic artist and the owner of a possessed dog – Ja’Crispy, a star of her most recent creation, through which she shares her unique voice.
Tell me how it all started. What inspired you to choose your dog for your new comic’s main role?
It all started on the day we picked him up. I started taking loads and loads of photos, like a proper first-time dog mummy would, and decided to create an Instagram account to share these first few days with our friends. It was intuitive and just natural for me to start writing the posts like it was Ja’Crispy talking. In my mind, I would imagine all the dialogues and thoughts he must had been having. The words just flowed out of my hands! It was my voice being heard for the first time in a long time, without thinking about what others would think about me or my opinions. I had Ja’Crispy as my shield between my silenced self and the world. I was brave because I had him. Poor thing, was just a poo machine in these first few days but he was already changing my life, being my guardian and best friend.
After a while I stopped writing on Instagram. Maybe fear, maybe self-doubt. Whatever that was, I knew something was missing. I missed having a voice and yet again I had silenced it.
“It was like the biggest switch had been turned on. Everything was so clear. For the first time, I understood what flow is.”
After a few months on dwelling on what would my business approach be in life and finding what I needed to do, I heard a voice. A voice from my dearest friend. Guiding me to my real self. Making me unleash the “beast” inside me. Making me feel like my truest self had something to give to the world. And yet again, comics and having Ja’Crispy as its main character just popped in my chaotic mind naturally. It was like the biggest switch had been turned on. Everything was so clear. For the first time, I understood what flow is. The water was flowing naturally and going its own way without any dam in its way. I have been putting many dams in my path, diverting myself and my voice, and hitting my head hard against those walls, making me divert my course. It was like trying to squeeze a square in a circle mould. And now this square has found its square mould!
Where does your inspiration come from? Can you walk us through your creation process?
I read somewhere that Einstein had its best ideas when he was showering (sorry about this mental image; this does not, in any way, shape or form, turn me on, trust me). And it does happen to me as well! Not calling myself the next Einstein though! And these crazy ideas also erupt in my mind when I am out in nature on my long runs. All the most absurd and strange things pop into my head. Sometimes I forget them. Carrying a notebook showering and running isn’t exactly practical. I know people, I can wear intelligent watches and voice to text apps. I am not an Einstein, but I am an Electrical Engineer (no, I will not change your light bulbs; if there’s chocolate cake though, I will reconsider it). It’s just that I am more of a pen and paper girl. But if forgotten, the ideas that are truly meant to be written usually pop again and again. It is like they are on snooze until I do something with them.
My ideas are usually shaped by my childhood and teenager memories. All the movies and books and music artists that were around. My country’s identity. My hometown traditions (the best place to travel to, Madeira; not sponsored, just proud). What is happening right now in the world. What I love the most to do. My dog’s park adventures with his friends. And my daily routine moments with Ja’Crispy. There’s nothing like not having a poo bag when a fresh poo has landed to make those inspiration muscles move (people, just kidding; I’ve never let my dog’s poo unattended; he poos, me cleans)!
And I am also influenced by my parents (I plan to tell some dad jokes; brace yourselves)! My parents always made me laugh even when things got tough. I cannot remember a day in my life without having a proper laugh (unfortunately, no abs to show up for this). Smiling and laughing, that’s part of my DNA. Hence my need to spread the laughter. I hope I am a little bit funnier than my dad jokes though!
And then, when the “victim” idea has been chosen, I usually create a draft with the general drawing positions and perspectives and a rough guide on the dialogues. I usually start my drawings first and then I create the text. Visualizing always helps me to untangle my brain to find the right words for what I am feeling and thinking.
Your comics are clearly directed towards adult audience with a good grasp of the 90s pop culture. What goal would you like to achieve with it?
One of my goals is to pass on what my parents gave me and still give me daily. Joy. Laughter. Smiles. And excitement farts (these are real people; if needed, just wear a diaper; no shame there). I want to make people feel like what I felt as kid and as a teenager (not so much as a teenager as by this stage I was embarrassed about everything my parents did). A way to disconnect of all worries and fears. Maybe a place where people hopefully forget a little bit about what is happening in their lives at that moment. To feel lifted and transported to a place in the past where all was simpler. I want to offer a place free of judgment and real and free of society pressure. That’s why I swear and I talk about awkward stuff. I never had a filter as a kid and growing up it was if I was being thrown filters from everywhere and everyone. No more. Back to one of my favourite things to do, to make people feel uncomfortable and thrown away from their safe place. I want them to let go of the shackles and just be themselves.
But I must share that my main goal is to help myself. I am being honest here. And selfish too, you can call me that. I created this world to lead me back to who I truly am. These pages are the subwoofers to my inner self’s voice. This is what I have been running away my whole life. To live life like I want to. To live life being honest with myself. To prove to myself that I matter. My voice matters. That I have a place in this world. And to make sure my parents’ legacy is not forgotten. And this is an amazing way to embarrass my husband, let’s not forget that! If I had to describe him as an emoji, it would be the facepalm one. That’s how he reacts to my work. That’s job well done in my books!
Before this interview, you mentioned going through a battle with anxiety. How, if at all, does the creative process interact with your mental health?
Say hello to one of my inner voices, anxiety! It is part of me, and I have made truce with it. Anxiety is an emotion like love or fear or wanting to shop (that’s a real emotion; tell that to my credit card) or wanting to scream to the guy in the car in front of you (you know you have signal lights, right?). You just need to listen to it. It is there for a reason and the more you push it away, the bigger it gets. Sometimes it wants to protect you (yes, better not to drive that fast in the motorway). Sometimes it wants to screw you over (no, I am staying in this plane because I love flying and because I want to have a margarita by the beach and have a sunburn on my snowy white legs and because I love the gift bags from the business seats; working class, I know). Decide on what that is and have a conversation with it. Explain how you decide if it is real or not. You have all the answers inside of you. You just need help to find your weapons and to start slaying those walkers (just started to watch the “Walking Dead”; when is Daryl hooking up with Carol?)
Writing my comics has really helped me to find my strength. And also running. Being aware that I can make people laugh, that I can run a half-marathon. That makes me believe in myself, in my capacity to fight. To come through storms feeling stronger. To believe that my voice is strong enough to decide if the anxiety is real or not. Slowly, it will fade in the background. And it has.
I also have to thank anxiety because it made me be comfortable with being uncomfortable. The only way to conquer it was to go to the most uncomfortable place I have ever been. And I got through it. Once I had done that, feeling uncomfortable by sharing my work and my ideas and my voice, fearful of being judged and criticized and to be seen, just felt like a small hurdle to jump over.
What a blessing to have an outlet where you can truly throw unfiltered thoughts and let out all of the unruly ideas! Tatiana created one, and it works.