Geneva Bowers is a self-taught illustrator based in Western North Carolina. She loves manipulating color and adding whimsy with a touch of realism and calm. You can check out her art at gdbee.store.
Black Girls Create: What do you create?
I create illustrations, character designs, and occasionally some comics. My main focus is on Black women in a fantasy/reality mixed setting.
BGC: How did you get into illustrating?
I grew up loving to draw, so it seemed like a natural progression. I’m very thankful for my parents letting me foster that growth, as the concept of the “starving artist” is very real.
BGC: What was the inspiration behind HoverGirls?
HoverGirls was a labor of love! I love when cliches are subverted in media. However, when the magical girl theme is subverted, it’s always grim, like Madoka Magica. Well, what if the genre was subverted, but not grim?? And the main character(s) were actual adults just trying to live? And there were spooky fish involved? And thus the HoverGirls’ plot was pulled from the ether and brought out for readers who are looking for that—and representation.
BGC: Who is your audience?
I believe my audience are both people who have grown up wanting to see the same things I wanted to as a kid — more Black and POC women in fantasy — and the kids of those people.
BGC: Who or what inspires you to keep creating?
Cliche, but general life. I love nature and nature-watching, and little instances of something being beautiful make me want to recreate that feeling. Like for instance, on my way home I saw some birds playing around in front of a scenic hilltop with some cute houses in the distance at sunset. That’s my aesthetic in a nutshell. I feel the urge to make something as idyllic as that.
BGC: Why is it important as a Black person to create?
Like I’ve mentioned before, there wasn’t a lot of media in mainstream portraying us. It’s changing now (yay!), but with there being more Black people creating the things they love and care about, we’ll start seeing more inclusive changes in larger industries.
BGC: How do you balance creating with the rest of your life?
For better or worse, drawing is my life. My work is drawing and my main hobby is drawing. I’m aware that other hobbies are healthy to have but I have too much fun with this one!
BGC: Any advice for new creators?
The biggest thing I learned is it’s not a race. You don’t have to be X amount of “good” by next year or have Y completed to be validated as an artist. The internet is a wonderful boon, but the constant flow of people making things can make us feel like we need to rush to put stuff out there. I would say relax, chill, have fun with your work! It’ll be reflected in the outcome.
BGC: What is a project you would want to do if you had unlimited resources?
I would just make comics all day. HoverGirls was extremely fun to work on, but I was working on it in the corner hours of the night, sacrificing sleep and self-care, to try to keep to its posting schedule (this comic is the only time I’ve gone against the “chill” advice above; I just really wanted to get it drawn out, ha). I couldn’t work on it during working hours. There’s a long-running idea for a serious graphic novel series I’ve had for years, but it would be impossible to pull it off without having to worry about bills!
BGC: Any future projects coming up?
Lots of zines and art collections! And maybe one comedic 4-panel short comic series if I can shovel out some time to work on it properly. I would also love to turn HoverGirls into a physical graphic novel at some point.
You can follow Geneva on Twitter @gdbeeart, learn more about her work on her website, and buy her art at her store!