I want to tell you about the Girl from LA Although I don't really know her, there's a link between us. And actually, that same link might also exist between you - who are reading this - and I.
July 2014. I am in Portland, Oregon, for an illustration conference that brings together people from all over the world. Me, the girl from Montreal, arrive with my suitcase, my books and a dream in mind: to find a publisher for my latest book, Thin Slices of Anxiety. I am an anxious person. And with this book, I chose to share my experience by turning my anxiety problems into images.
Thursday evening. I am ready. I am at my table. Sixty illustrators came to showcase their work to people from all around who wish to discover new talents, new inspirations and meet new people. I am nervous. There are hundreds of people walking around. Some of them simply glance and then continue to walk. The crowd is dense. A person stops, looks at the books laid on my table, leafs through my portfolio. She smiles politely and resumes her walk. I also smile at people. I feel a little silly, standing behind that table on which my work is displayed. I am subject to their judgment; I want them so much to like my work. If they do not like it, I feel that it will be me as a whole that they reject. And all these people who pass me by without looking only increase my insecurity. I wonder if my work can move these people whose reality is so different from mine. Will my work reach a broader audience or will it only meet success within the confines of the province of Quebec?
A young woman arrives. Like many others, she stops, takes the iPad that serves to showcase Thin Slices of Anxiety. She starts scrolling. Looking at every image. Reading the short sentences. "Oh my God! This is me" ... she exclaims with wide eyes. She keeps going. And from page to page, she recognizes herself and expresses it out loud. She gives me confused looks. I watch her reaction closely because I am intrigued. She laughs, she is amazed that I managed to put in pictures what she feels deep down in her guts. She reads the book to the last page with the same emotional intensity. A question burns my lips: "Where are you from?" "I'm from L.A.", she replies. I feel transported right on the spot. It is as if the thousands of miles that separate Los Angeles from Montreal had just been erased. Someone on the other end of the continent feels exactly like I do. My torments, my deep concerns, my character traits, all of which I once believed so intimate have something universal in the end. Something that transcends geographical and cultural boundaries. And that takes a crazy load off me. It is as if the burden had been spread on many shoulders. It makes it feel lighter. Anxiety is not just "me and my problems"; it is all of U.S, all over the world. And this is something so utterly comforting to know that deep down, it is just part of human nature.
The Girl from LA resumes her walk. My eyes fall on a woman who stands right before me. Her nametag reads "Chronicle Books". I greet her with my best smile and hold out my hand: "Hi! Would you like to see my book?"
Thin Slices of Anxiety published by Chronicle Books is out now. Find more information about the book here.