Based out of New York, Margalit Cutler‘s artwork struck us as totally bold, totally honest, and totally refreshing. From her animations, sculptures, illustrations and mini-comics, Cutler has created commissioned pieces for Rookie Mag and Protocols and updates her Instagram regularly with original and eye-catching work. She took some time out of her schedule to answer questions we had about her creative process, her stance on female sexuality and tips for other artists.
ANON: How long have you been making art for?
Margalit Cutler: I’ve been making art for as long as I can remember. I recently went home for Passover, and my mom was showing off an illustrated book I made when I was eight about the story of Passover. She’s not the most objective viewer, but I have to say, it is a beautifully crafted book.
ANON: Where do you draw your inspiration from? When you’re stuck in a creative rut, is there anything that helps to pull you out of it?
MC: I draw a lot of inspiration from comedy. I love surrealist, visual-heavy comedy like Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy as well as straight up stand up comedians like Kate Berlant and Sarah Silverman. I like to have a kind of punch line or interrupted expectation in my work the way comedy does.
When I’m in a creative rut, I like to move my body. I love to dance. I think the world would be a better place if more adults leaped and shaked with all their might, regularly. Also, passive physical activities are where I have my best ideas: while brushing my teeth, chopping garlic, mowing a lawn (when I didn’t live in a city) – lawn ideas are lit.
ANON: Can you tell us about your process of getting your ideas onto paper?
MC: Once I have an idea, I start collecting reference images to draw from. This means googling images of bears or putting my roommate in leotard and taking pics of her in the fetal position. Then I draw from these pictures and adapt the piece accordingly. It’s very rare that I have an exact image in my head; everything develops loosely.
ANON: Do you have a favorite medium you prefer to work in?
MC: Lately, I’ve been working exclusively with micron pens and coloring digitally, but I also love sculpture. I’ve made stop motion animations from all kinds of material. The characters are armature wire, tin foil, clay, and fabric, but the sets are made of anything I can find. Also, I’ve worked for Chloe Wise since 2015, creating hyper realistic food sculptures out of urethane plastic. I love the process of mold making and casting.
ANON: The themes of body image and sexual expression really stand out in your work. What in particular gravitates you towards these topics? What else do you hope to convey through your artwork?
MC: I worked as an erotic dancer in college and the experience taught me a lot about objectification. There’s nothing wrong with objectification when it’s mutual and consensual. In fact, we often crave being sexualized (hence – unsolicited dick pics). The problem is that our culture almost exclusively sexualizes the cis female body. When I’m walking on the street, I can’t control the sleazy men that call out, but when I’m dancing, I’m TELLING you to objectify me; I’m in control and I like it. In erotic dancing, the dancers’ bodies are objectified, while viewers are equally objectified for their money- this superficial exchange is mutual and kosher. Some might say this reinforces damaging gender stereotypes, but I would argue we need to change our understanding on what is shameful and what is gender. If we respect female sexuality instead of demonize it, we realize that these women are making a living off of their own skill and charisma, and their sexual power is beautiful.
This was also the first place I could be as provocative as a wanted without being shamed. I remember the first time I was slut shamed was in 8th grade. A Dean almost kicked me and my friends out of a dance for grinding. Even then, I knew my body was powerful, not shameful, and that’s why it made him nervous. That understanding at a young age was a privilege and now, I want to shout from the rooftops, “SEX IS FOR PLEASURE.” Sex is only dirty when it’s not safe or consensual. Sex shouldn’t fill a void or be transactional. It’s. For. Yummy. Pleasure. And sometimes babies. I hope that this playful, healthy, female relationship to sex pervades my work and stands up to some misconceptions.
Sexual harassment and the idea that straight men should be non-monogamous Dan Bilzerians put men on the sexual offensive and therefore, women on the sexual defensive. I know woke, liberal men that still treat vaginas like puzzles to unlock. And inversely, I know boss bitch ladies who feel that they won’t be respected after “putting out” too soon. Basically, I urge all bodies to enjoy their sexuality free of shame because we are all beautiful and gross and deserving of delicious intimacy.
ANON: What advice would you give to budding artists?
MC: The advice I give myself as a budding artist is to try to figure out what is so unbelievably me. What do I really have to offer? The best work I’ve made is always the most me on a page because that’s the most genuine, and the most genuine is usually the most universal.