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A mixture of acid and innocence.
Ask Liana Finck how she got started as an artist and she’ll offer you a hilariously frank answer: “I started drawing when I was a baby and I’ve been drawing since then.”
The response embodies what’s so compelling about Finck’s cartoons. Both acid and innocent, Finck’s words and drawings are unflinchingly honest.
“Whenever something really bothers me, I’ll try to really think about it and get at its essence and turn it into a cartoon,” Finck told the Daily Dot.
Finck, who is a frequent contributor to the New Yorker, has been posting her sketches and cartoons to Instagram for over a year. More than 40,000 followers are drawn to her unique brand of introspective wit.
Finck said she started sharing her drawings on Instagram when she was seeking something we all crave: the attention of someone who wasn’t giving her enough attention.
“I was dating someone who was Insta-famous and he was very shy,” said Finck. “So, I started using Instagram to get him to like my posts. That was sometimes the only communication we had.”
Finck quickly discovered her love for the medium: “I really liked it. I hate Facebook and most social media. It makes me feel invaded, but Instagram feels the opposite.”
When the Insta-famous paramour who inspired Finck to start her account withdrew his affections, Finck turned to Instagram as an outlet for her intense feelings.
“When we broke up I had all this anger and, for some reason, for the first time I turned it outward instead of inward… I turned it into drawings and I started posting them on there,” explained Finck.
“I think putting something into a drawing is even more to the point than putting it into words,” Finck reflected.
Finck’s drawings explore themes that are deeply human and familiar: love, disillusionment, hope, and melancholy. The subject matter renders her cartoons accessible, but Finck explores this oft-tread territory with piercing vulnerability. Her drawings are ruthlessly honest.
Looking at them can feel like an embrace from an old friend, one with an acerbic wit and rough hands.
Finck’s keen understanding of the perils of intimacy doesn’t always go down easy, but she infuses the ugly truths she presents with a refreshing sense of whimsy and play.
And while there’s no shortage of melancholy, Finck’s cartoons often land the viewer squarely in a happy upside-down place where we can smile as we grimace.
It’s easy to see that while her art largely expresses moments of pain and sorrow, Finck takes great pleasure in her work.
“It’s so much fun, I love it,” said Finck. “I think of [Instagram as] a public sketchbook, which is the perfect portfolio. I don’t know if it’s helping my career but it’s helping my work a lot. I do it so I don’t have writer’s block with stuff that I would pick apart in my head. Instead I just start drawing.”
But when we asked Finck to pick favorites from her own work, she told us plainly, “I prefer other people’s cartoons.” Some of Finck’s favorites are popular Instagram cartoonists like Mari Andrew and Lord Birthday. “I like them a lot,” said Finck.
Ever humble, Finck isn’t sure exactly what alchemy has brought followers her way, but she has some ideas about attracting intelligent audiences while weeding out trolls.
“I did notice that I think I tried to post enough good things that good people follow me and enough bad things that bad people unfollow me,” mused Finck.
“When I post really likable stuff I start getting trolled, but then I post stuff that isn’t as likable and the people who like it and comment are really smart.”
Nayomi Reghay is a frequent contributor to the Daily Dot, covering body positivity, feminism, sex, relationships, and gender. She is also the author of the advice column “Swipe This!” A former New York Teaching Fellow, her writing has been featured in Reductress, Rolling Stone, Mic, Someecards, and more.