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Interview with Heidi Soul Merritt

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Today I’m starting a blog about Heidi Soul Merritt, an artist I’ve admired for years. (I especially love this print) She has diabetes. Her sense of humor is dark and delightfully twisted, and she’s published a new book. The Sweet Taste of Misery: Illustrations for the Discerning Diabetic. Want more? Please scroll.

Kelly: Heidi! I have been a huge fan of your diabetes insights and artwork for many years. For our readers who haven’t had the chance to get to know you or your work yet, can you tell us a little about yourself?

Heidi: Kelly, you were very kind to agree to this interview. Thank you thank you. To think that I have lived long enough to require reintroduction is actually unthinkable–ridiculous. Yet here we are. This is exactly where I am.

I make my home in a small city called Portsmouth, New Hampshire. I have lived in this house for 18 years. I’m sure this number is comparable to the age of new readers. My studio is a 10-minute walk from here in a historic building called the Button Factory. The title is as magical as the name sounds. I consider myself a mixed media artist. Because you can experiment with all kinds of media and techniques. I’m currently working with watercolor and pen + ink, but things can change in an instant.

After having eye surgery in my 20s, I started drawing comics about diabetes. Black and white is easier to see than color, and black ink and white paper were perfect.

Kelly: And you also have diabetes, which adds to your insight into diabetes from lived experience. Can you tell us when you were diagnosed with diabetes and how it has affected your art?

Heidi: I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1974 at the age of three. I’m about to celebrate my 50th anniversary of diabetes. I was misdiagnosed with all sorts of illnesses, including epilepsy. The grand mal seizure I had was actually the result of extreme hypoglycemia. Type 1 wasn’t that common, so doctors were throwing spaghetti at the wall (I love a good carbohydrate reference).

A novelist’s catchphrase is to write what you know. This is the easiest and most accurate way to explain why the diabetes theme started. It’s knowing that I’m bold and a little bit fearless, which means I’m very confident in what I’m going through. I have the freedom to express myself in a way that most other subjects cannot. This is also an appropriate word.

KELLY: Your book, One lump or two lumps?, is a staple in my diabetes library and I recommend it frequently. And a new book has been published! ! What is this about?

Heidi: So glad to hear that, Kelly, it seems like your first book was so long ago.

Yesterday, someone new to my job asked me which book he should buy. Everyone is completely different. I’m into new things because I think each one is an improvement. It’s all self-published, so I think it’s improved with the experience I’ve gained.

Here are a few things I like about The Sweet Taste of Misery: (1) The illustrations are the highlight here, and some have text, but there’s no actual story (this (Compare with Volume 2) Fingerprix™, was lacking in the field of “artistic talent”, but contains messages and information that are worth the sacrifice). (2) The cover is wonderful. I love the color scheme and the design of the pill bottle. (3) Volume 3 covers a fairly long period of my career as a manga artist, so there is variety in style and topical sentiment. (4) Answer your questions at the end. Although this time’s content is not specific, diabetes is the theme throughout.

Kelly: What I love most about your work is the combination of levity and dark humor. Your cartoons make me chuckle because they tap into the gallows humor part of my brain. Being able to laugh at things that scare me helps me overcome my fears. Can you tell us about your emotional approach to creating your work?

Heidi: Lately, I’ve been trying to lighten my workload. Or is it me? I don’t know.

Speaking of which, we’re releasing another new sexy item. It’s a zine (self-printed booklet). insulin surplus, basically a collection of clever things about what to do with insulin if we found a cure for diabetes. It’s a direct response to people I call negative (not anyone in particular, but the general vibe). My rebuttal is always that I’m just a realist. And do you tend to be a little pessimistic? of course. Get her zine on my etsy site or DM me on Instagram. @haideemerritt.

Kelly: Your comics also tackle hot topics like the insulin crisis head-on. How can art help spread messages of advocacy and activism?

Heidi: I resent all medical practices related to diabetes. Insulin certainly keeps us alive, but that’s only the tip of the iceberg. In fact, I have to choose between the insulin pump and her CGM. It’s not a difficult choice, but ultimately I decide to stop pumping. And as you get older, you develop complications and it’s a progressive disease. It’s just so unfair and unjust and it pisses me off to no end.

The good news is that younger generations of people with diabetes, those less exhausted by the problem and more social media-savvy, are just as angry. I was incredibly moved.

Kelly: Beyond diabetes-related art, I’ve seen a lot of bugs — Dragonflies and their friends — on social feeds. What will happen to Bug’s love?

Heidi: Ah, yes, insects. It started because I had the visual of a stained glass wing, and since it’s not a medium I’m familiar with, I chose my own. I love the complexity of the wings and bodies, the endless combinations of colors and shapes. Dragonflies in particular have great meaning to people from diverse cultures to fairy tales and more. There was always a good response, which gave me the inspiration to continue.

Kelly: How can readers find your work? Where can they order The Sweet Taste of Misery: Illustrations for the Diabetes?

Heidi: I’m not going to lie, I’m very confused right now. This new book is available for purchase on Amazon along with his first two books. (Editor’s Addition: As previously mentioned, the new book The Sweet Taste of Misery: Illustrations for the Discerning Diabetic. Click the link to get your copy. )

I also sell prints of my comics and illustrations on Etsy. bird wing press. I also come to buy my zine. It’s worth it: It’s interesting.

my website is www.haideemerritt.com Eventually everything will be available there.

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