Mari Lena (Marietta Williams) has been a member of WiC for a little over a year, but has been an artist for much longer! I was excited to learn more about Marietta, and can't wait for you to get to know her as well.

Q: Where did you get your start, and how long have you been a caricature artist?
A: I’ve been a caricature artist for, oh gosh, nearly 20 years now! I started at 15 at Worlds of Fun in Kansas City. I remember my best friend in high school pushing me to respond to this ad in the paper looking for artists at our local theme park because I liked to draw in my spare time. I was timid and absolutely terrified, but it was one of the best things that happened to me; I know I certainly wouldn’t be where I am without it. I worked there for about 8 years before leaving to do event work.
Q: Where do you currently work, and what work are you doing?
A: I do live traditional, digital, and virtual events full-time both locally and nationwide, which was really the end-goal for me. I own my own business, Caricatures by Marietta, and am also currently the Marketing Manager for The Fine Tooners, a Kansas City based event entertainment agency. I’ve partnered with the Mid-Continent Public Library where I offer a Teens Draw Caricatures class around 10-15 times a semester at various branches to encourage kids to look into art and event entertainment, both for fun and as a potential career. Finally, I’m on the artist advisory committee with The Superhero Project, a volunteer organization that pairs professional artists with children with disabilities, terminal illness, or other life challenges to create their own superhero illustration (PS: They’re always looking for more artists! You can find out more about them at
Q: What is it about caricature that you’re passionate about?
A: I have two main goals with caricature: Uniqueness and accessibility. When I’m teaching my Teens Draw Caricatures classes, I emphasize that caricature is a celebration of our individuality, that everyone’s face is a unique formula that honors their heritage, culture, and experiences. The other side of my job is my desire to make art accessible to all, regardless of income, class, or background. Caricature is a form of art that is both easy to engage with and relatively affordable. My coworkers joke that I tell almost everyone they should get drawn at least once – that it’s a life requirement - but I fully believe it!
Q: Where do you find inspiration from? What influences your caricature style?
A: Oh goodness, everywhere and everything! I think my style is heavily an amalgamation of all the amazing artists I’ve worked with, from those who trained me to those I work with in a professional capacity to all the kids that I’ve taught. I feel like I learn something new with every new person I meet! I also think my style is heavily influenced by the late 80s/early 90s girl power animation movement - everything from She-Ra to Sailor Moon. I see a lot of that in my style.
Q: What advice would you give to someone starting out as a caricature artist?
A: Talent is just a combination of practice plus interest. If you’re interested in something enough, you’ll practice it over and over and over again just for the sheer love of it, even if you’re not great at the beginning. I was once just a 15-year-old with a bunch of study sheets on the floor of her bedroom trying desperately to get a z-stroke out of a marker I didn’t even know existed the night before. Everyone has to start somewhere.
Q: How do you define success as an artist or as a person, and what do you hope to accomplish?
A: The concept of success is highly individualized, so I can really only talk about what it means for me. If I can be comfortable (pay my bills and keep a roof over my head) and happy (enjoy my life, slow down, and take breaks as I need to while doing what I want to do for a living) then I’m golden. It meant setting some boundaries with the job, accepting the ups and downs of the income, particularly during COVID, and being confident enough with my skillset to know that more work is coming eventually. It also means that if I’m not taking appropriate breaks or slowing down because I’m working too much, then I’m not really doing what I want to do. It’s harder, post-COVID, to meet the latter part, but I’m working on it.
Q: How do you overcome creative blocks?
A: I love a blanket, a fan, a dark room, and a good TV show. Most of my creative blocks tend to be some sort of overwhelm, so walking away and taking a break lets me come back refreshed. Bonus points if I can snuggle up to a four-legged fuzzball or two... or four.
Q: What’s the most valuable piece of art or object that you have, and what does it mean to you?
A: I collect drawings kids have given me over the years. One of my favorites is a drawing one did on a post-it of me that said “I bet you never had anyone draw you before!” I frame them and put them in my office. Those are by far the most valuable pieces of art I have.
Q: What is your favorite type of work to do (retail, commission/studio/events, etc.)? Why is that your favorite?
A: I love events! Everyone’s so happy and engaging. I don’t have to worry about upselling what I do like with retail, and I don’t have to worry about whether the client will need changes to what I see like with commissions. I’m in my freest form of expression.
Q: Do you have any favorite tools or mediums that you love to use?
A: For live, it’s Crayola markers and Neocolors, though I deeply miss the Prismacolor Color Stix as I’m sure we all do. Digital is an iPad with Procreate these days. I also do my Power Posters for The Superhero Project with Procreate as well.
Q: What hobbies or passions do you have outside of caricature?
A: I’m married to my high school sweetheart and we have a small zoo of one dog, three cats, and a parrot at home. Our little makeshift family on the Isle of Misfit Pets is everything to me. When I’m not working, you can usually find me either curled up with an animal and/or my husband, or doing some sort of cleaning/organizing/renovation project around the house. I also love me some original NES (I still have mine from my childhood), 2D indie shooter strategy games, supernatural horror movies or psychological thrillers, finding little-known coffee shops, antique browsing, and anything Sailor Moon. My car is actually SuperS Princess Serenity themed!
Q: How do you manage your work-life balance? What are some tips you can offer, or something that you struggle with?
A: For me, choosing one type of caricature work – events – allowed me to set the boundaries I needed for that work/life balance. I do some retail very, very occasionally, and I might sneak in a commission or two a year, but focusing mainly on events allows me to separate work from home a bit. Even then, I still haven’t solved the whole taking on too many gigs thing. I’m currently in the midst of 3 weeks straight with no days off. Saying no to money is hard with the uncertainty of everything moving forward post-COVID, but I’m working on it.
Q: Who are your favorite women artists in caricature or in related industries?
A: So many! I love how bright and playful Sam Gorrie’s digital caricatures are ( @samartypants ). Celestia Ward ( @celestiaward ), Kelly O’Brien ( @komakes ) , Kiko Yamada ( @ninjasketch ), Lindsey Olivares ( @lindseyolivares ), and Katie Green ( @cartoonkatiedraws ) are all fav caricature artists (and I’m leaving so, so many out). Taryn Cozzy, the creative director of The Superhero Project, has a very crisp and clean style with a dash of whimsy that I greatly enjoy ( @ _ptaryndactyl_ ). Heather Hitchman ( @heatherhitchman ) and Megan Hetrick ( @megan_hetrick ) are some fantastic people and their art is amazing. Loish and Rachel Smythe are some of my favorite artists. I could go on and on.
Q: Thanks again for participating in WIC's Artist Spotlight! Where can we follow your work?
A: Thank you!! My socials are @caricaturesbymarietta for Instagram, for Facebook, and my website is I’m working on getting Tiktok ready soon!

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