September Cover Artist: Offbrand Gumby

Thursday Sep. 1st, 2022

Offbrand Gumby is the fictitious name chosen by this month’s local cover artist. Currently a Junior at Gallatin High School, Offbrand Gumby has lived in Montana for five years, having relocated from Long Island, NY. The young artist has created traditional art their entire life (mostly working with plain pencils or pens), but around two years ago began to create digital art, which sparked a new interest in different mediums. Since then, they have focused on digital art, but still draws traditionally, and has even taken up painting.

The cover illustration, which won first place in The Bozeman Teen Book Fest’s Creativity Challenge earlier this year, means quite a bit to Offbrand Gumby. It takes on subjects such as self-expression, anxiety, and the feeling of not belonging.

“For most of my life I felt that I was just weird. I had no words to put to the way I felt but it always felt like there was a barrier between me and my peers, and I had no idea why. I would keep up looks and try to appear as normal and feminine as possible. I caked my face with blush and mascara and put on short skirts and tight shirts, flaunting the features people claimed made me beautiful, but really made me feel so far from myself (there is no problem with dressing or presenting this way, it just wasn’t really for me). I couldn’t put my finger on what felt wrong exactly; I didn’t know why I didn’t feel myself in how I looked. I was conventionally attractive and had a lot of friends; what more should my brain want?

As I got older, I started to discover more about myself, and began to feel more comfortable in who I was. I finally felt like I wasn’t hiding in a closet from the rest of the world—but every good thing has a downside. Once I started to express the way I felt, the more people didn’t really want to talk to me, and the more people felt that the way I felt was unnatural and bad. I have never been bullied, but I’d be lying if I said I haven’t been picked on a little by some of my peers because of how I look and present myself. Honestly, though, I don’t really mind that; I feel good in my own skin and genuinely happy—and that’s what truly matters.”

The illustration depicts the artist as a ghost, covered in rainbow lighting with many others around them. The ghost represents the feeling of not being seen, while the rainbow lighting represents true identity and self-expression.

“I am proud of this piece and I hope it can help others to know that although they feel alone in who they are, they really aren’t. It’s very nice to know some people will be enjoying seeing things I am genuinely proud of.” If you like OG’s art, please follow on Instagram @Offbrand_gumby!