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Detailed, colorful, filled with narrative (and gorgeous plus-sized bodies), Taylor McManus navigates friendships, relationships, and adulthood in her stunning artwork.
According to her mom, Taylor McManus has been drawing since the age of three! “My first drawing was of all the members of the Addams Family. I would draw all through elementary and middle school, but I did not really begin to take it seriously until I reached high school where my art teacher frequently made it known that you can pursue art as a career.” Taylor’s art teacher helped her get into two residential summer art programs in high school which ultimately led her to attending school at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD.
Her work focuses on lifestyle, primarily featuring black people and other people of color. “When I was in college, I felt like I did not see enough black women or women of color in lifestyle pieces. It is my goal to try to create work that black women and other women of color can see themselves in.” Taylor hopes to create work with narratives that are relatable and affirm people’s experiences. “Representation confirms that your existence and identity is just as valid as everyone else.” We asked Taylor what changes would she like to see in the art community. “I want to see more people of color recognized in the illustration community because of their work, not because it fits a specific trend.”
Although Taylor has a strong foundation in drawing through her formal art training, she believes that her education will never stop. Taylor continues to learn and grow through observing her favorite artists, watching Instagram lives, story highlights, and YouTube. “I do not think that educating yourself always has to be ‘formal,’ but you can learn by observation and experimentation.”
It seems like Taylor’s art teacher left an impression because Taylor now works as a full-time high school art teacher. She just finished a very strange second year of teaching (thanks to COVID-19). She loves getting to have a positive impact on her student’s lives. “I find it satisfying when students really exceed their own expectations when learning a new skill and are able to make artwork they are proud of.” Even if a student’s artistic skills are not very strong, Taylor says it is still a fantastic opportunity to connect with them and understand what is going on in their world. High school is challenging, complicated, and overwhelming, and Taylor loves having the ability to become a resource to her students when they need her.
How Taylor uses Procreate
Taylor remembers how things changed when a friend introduced her to drawing on the iPad. “I could never have imagined working totally digitally. Now that I have an iPad and Procreate, I cannot imagine not having those resources!” She has been using Procreate for a little under a year. Procreate has allowed Taylor to preserve a lot of fine details that she would lose when scanning in her ink drawings and working on them on illustrator. Taylor enjoys experimenting with different brushes. Lately, Taylor has implemented adding more texture to her work which Procreates allows her to experiment with a variety of textured brushes without having to commit. “I like Procreate because it is easier for me to make minor edits if I do not like something. I can easily select certain parts of an illustration and make adjustments or get rid of things. Procreate enables my art making experience to be really flexible and fun.”
Taylor is inspired by a variety of things, including photography, color, culture, tv/film, and personal experiences. As a 25-year-old, Taylor says she is still adjusting and learning how to become an “adult.” “It really tests my mental fortitude some days. I usually create artwork, sometimes based on an experience that I am having. I have one piece with a girl sitting on her bed with her dog calling a friend, and I captioned the piece about checking in on your friends. At the time I created this, I was living by myself for the first time, paying all my bills myself, and learning how to navigate adult friendships and a long-distance relationships.” Taylor mentions the substance of her pieces are inspired by personal life experiences while color, photography, and tv/film inspires the framework and structure of her pieces.
One of Taylor’s favorite artists is Laura Callaghan. “When I saw her work for the first time, I felt like I had found the artist identity I wanted to have. The level of detail in her work is…stunning! I am in awe of the patterns, characters, fashion, and the substance behind her work. She is truly an amazing illustrator and will always be an inspiration.” Taylor is interested in how illustrations address or confront contemporary issues. Some of her favorite artists include Bodil Jane, Robin Eisenberg, Cannaday Chapman, Grow Mija, Alex Cabal, Manjit Thapp, Bijou Karman, and so many more!
Every artist comes across some struggles during their journey. For Taylor, it’s imposter syndrome. Taylor fears that she would not satisfy the expectations of her clients. “I have to continue to remind myself that the opportunities I am given are not a mistake, and I have worked hard to get to where I am. I am by no means perfect, but all I can do is try my best and take things one step at a time.”
Taylor’s advice to other artists is, “Create art you believe in, and find content you care about.”