There’s little we love more than snacking in the Marketing department here at UncommonGoods. We even have a weekly rotating snack schedule, which means that Wednesdays are everyone’s favorite days—days to gorge on bagels, cookies, fruit, or soft pretzels with a variety of vegan dipping sauces. (Ugh, this content creator’s mouth is watering now.) It was only natural, then, that we’d all go positively loco for artist Meghan Cochran’s Doughnut Art Portraits, which celebrate twelve different types of everyone’s favorite pastry. Decked out with frosting, sprinkles, and glazes of all types, they look good enough to gobble up. And yes, if you’re wondering, that is a French cruller.
We spoke with Meghan about her background, her career as an artist, and her inspiration—that is, her two daughters, Eva and Elle. Read on for our Q&A session with Meghan, complete with sneak peeks at new paintings and pictures of smiling kiddos with real live doughnuts. Hungry yet? Don’t worry; you will be soon.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
To be honest, I never experienced that one lightbulb moment when I suddenly decided that one day I would be an artist any more than I never decided I would have freckles or an innate need to eat chocolate every night before bed. The need to creatively express myself has been a lifelong requirement—I am very sensitive and seem to experience the range of emotions a bit more intensely than a lot of people I know. I always turned to drawing or painting when I didn’t have anywhere else to go with my big feelings; it’s just what I naturally did. I remember sitting in my backyard with crayons as a little girl trying to match the exact blue of the sky while processing my sadness over the loss of our pet kitty. It’s something that I’ve never grown out of—and I don’t think I could if I tried! I’m trying to teach my girls that being sensitive is OK and that creatively expressing yourself is a great outlet when you don’t know what to do with your big emotions.
Describe a typical day at work in your studio, assuming such a thing exists.
I typically get to the studio after my daughters go to sleep. After tucking them in, I try to sneak off to my studio for an hour or two every night. Although it might not seem like much, the hours really do add up. I used to think that because I wasn’t dedicating significant chunks of time to painting every day that I might as well not do anything (I tend to be an all or nothing type of person). But after having kids and not having that kind of time, I decided I needed to do something creative even if it wasn’t going to be a masterpiece. I realized that if I am kind with myself and set achievable goals, I can do a lot of really cool stuff. An hour a night is seven hours a week; it really adds up! That’s seven more hours than if I had waited for an epic painting session. This gives me my much needed me time; as a classic introvert, I desperately crave and am recharged by my solitude. I have a specific ritual: I light a candle, pour a cup of tea, and turn on my painting playlist. I’m just like a Pavlovian dog; as soon as I hear that first song on my playlist, it signals to my brain that it’s time to relax and just have fun with my paints.
What’s been the most exciting thing about becoming a professional artist? What about the most challenging thing?
I find it so magical when a stranger tells me they enjoy my work. That stranger and I are linked by something that came to life through my imagination! It all feels so intimate and vulnerable and wonderful. As people, our most basic need is connection—we are literally hard-wired for it. It’s such a profoundly connecting experience when someone else resonates with a painting that I’ve created.
The most challenging thing has been juggling it all: my family, full-time career, and painting. However, it is necessary to take the time for myself and fill my cup, or I won’t have anything to give.
Your Doughnut Art Portraits are 100% delectable (seriously, we’re getting hungry just looking at them). How’d you decide to paint a series of desserts?
My daughters were my inspiration! I had been looking for a way to authentically include them in my creative practice. As a mother, you devote all of your love and energy towards your family and there doesn’t always seem to be a whole lot left over. I just wasn’t interested in anything else as my entire worldview had changed, my whole purpose and reason for being. They became my sun and I revolved around them. As my whole life changed, so inevitably did my priorities and, as a result, my art. I love viewing the world through their eyes and being excited about the things that they’re excited about. There is something so sacred and genuine about the delight that they find in the seeming simplest things. Their appreciation for a single item that I otherwise would have blown off is so inspiring and wonderful: the way they look deeply for the most minute details that give something character, their all-consuming pleasure in the present moment. I remember being a kid playing in the woods and the reverence I had for things that today I would never notice. Studying an object to paint and becoming intimately familiar with it—noticing the subtle change in hues, exploring the texture with my hands—brings me back to this magical, childlike awe and wonder of the world.
Is there a special trinket or talisman you keep nearby while you work? If so, what is it and what does it mean to you?
I have a small jade figurine of a cicada that I keep in my studio. My aunt gifted it to me during a time in my life that had a lot of change and instability. It reminds me that I am capable of doing hard things, and that transformation isn’t always sweet or fun. Sometimes it’s murky and painful, but occasionally it’s necessary to completely uproot yourself in order to become who you were meant to be.
If you showed one of your paintings—doughnut or no—to a kindergartner, what do you think they would say?
Funny you should ask, as I have one of those at home. She loves the paintings and is quite the artist herself. She is always asking me to take her to her favorite cafe that sells the most delicious doughnuts under the guise of researching to continue my series.