I Am Anxious... Liz Montague
The author, illustrator, and cartoonist discusses being overwhelmed, respecting her limits, and her first picture book.
Liz Montague is an author, illustrator, and cartoonist whose work focuses on the intersection of self and social awareness. She began contributing to The New Yorker in 2019 as a cartoonist and has illustrated for the U.S. Open, Food Network, and Google.
Her first book, Maybe an Artist, came out in October of 2022 and she is currently working on a three book series for Scholastic. Liz fundamentally believes in representation, accessible information, and drawing your feelings.
Her first picture book, Jackie Ormes Draws the Future, is now available wherever books are sold.
“I'm just super honored and excited to tell the story of an artist who has inspired me so much during my career!”
How long have you been an anxious person?
I feel like I remember feeling anxious very vividly starting in Middle School.
What is your earliest memory of being anxious?
When I was a kid my parents worked full-time and I was in a million sports and had to coordinate my own rides to practice—it was the most stressful thing ever to me!
Have you ever experienced a panic attack?
Yes! What immediately comes to mind is at the beginning of the pandemic at a Target in Philadelphia when I realized things were truly about to change forever and literally forgot how to breathe.
What are some of your anxiety triggers? What makes you most anxious?
Things outside of my control.
How do you feel physically and emotionally when you’re anxious?
My shoulders feel tight and my heart races.
What do you do when you feel anxious? How do you take care of yourself in those situations? Do you have any anxiety management tips or tricks?
I make a lot of lists, even for simple things (it makes things feel much more manageable).
How do you feel your anxiety affects your family, friends, and overall social life?
When I'm overwhelmed, I'm not the best communicator.
When you're not feeling anxious (simply in your day-to-day life), what do you do for self care?
I just respect my limits. A seemingly simple thing, like responding to emails, could honestly take me an hour (per email). But I could sit and edit a manuscript or do sketches for six hours straight and be perfectly happy.
I feel like I spent a lot of my early 20's really resisting what was hard for me and trying to force myself to adapt to an unrealistic ideal. Letting that go has honestly been amazing.
How do you feel about the portrayal of mental health and anxiety in Pop Culture (books, movies, music, etc)? Do you feel it's accurate?
I feel like there are a lot of extremes shown and it's often centered on teenagers/high school demographic.
What are some of your favorite examples of Pop Culture that gets anxiety and mental health right?
The movie Frances Ha. I saw that just after college and was like OMG, THEY GET IT! It just really captures navigating life as a twenty-something (my current reality) really well.
What is the best advice you've ever received?
Nothing is wasted 😁
Editor’s Note: This interview was edited slightly for length and clarity.
Thank you so much, Liz! I loved Liz’s graphic memoir Maybe an Artist, so I’m very excited to read and share her first picture book Jackie Ormes Draws the Future with 7-year-old daughter. Thank you, Liz!
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Be well and keep talking.
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