BY ANGELINA PERINO
“Don’t be scared to change as you grow, and when you do change, don’t be ashamed to return to things you’ve always loved.” –Melanie Loon
Writer, illustrator, graphic designer, and ‘second brain’ to the Editor-in-Chief & CEO of the beloved Darling Magazine — Melanie Loon is an essential creative element to the quickly-expanding, multilayered company. She has extended a talented hand to many different areas of the magazine over the past several years; now, working closely each day with CEO Sarah Dubbeldam, Melanie oversees the behind-the-scenes action that is necessary for Darling to produce its visually stunning and intellectually stimulating content. The women behind Darling Magazine seem to take a fierce pride in the work they are doing, and it was a joy to gain Melanie’s experienced perspective on the light that Darling represents for women in today’s culture.
Possessing innate enthusiasm in many areas can be a simultaneously beautiful and challenging thing. The artist, by nature, lives in a constant state of unrest. There is struggle in giving due attention to all sides of oneself while feeling pulled in various directions at once. This idea of attaining a balance within it all is the permeating question of my conversation, below, with the multi-talented Melanie Loon.
Angelina Perino: Where are you originally from?
Melanie Loon: Los Angeles! I’m from the San Fernando Valley.
AP: Growing up, what did you want to be?
ML: I changed what I wanted to be almost every year in grade school, but overall I’ve always wanted to be an artist. I’ve also loved writing for a long time, and graphic design and communications seemed to be the way to best make sense of my loves, so that’s what I studied in college.
AP: How do you feel your focus on graphic design and communications in college has served you thus far in your career path?
ML: I majored in Communications with a concentration in Multimedia at the University of La Verne. It encompassed graphic design, web design, general media studies in law and ethics under an umbrella of journalism.
I think it did prepare me well for the range of roles I’ve had at Darling. One of the most valuable things I took away from La Verne was a small-community mindset, learning to to work together in a close-knit environment where you have to be accountable and humble.
AP: You describe yourself as “the right hand to Sarah” — the CEO & Editor-in-Chief of Darling media. I would love to hear more about your role in the company and how you found yourself in your current position.
ML: It’s kind of been a long journey– long, but quick! I began as an Online Editorial Intern working for Ziza Bauer in 2014 and spent my junior year of college learning under her for the Darling blog.
In the Fall of 2015, when I began my senior year, I was asked to come back to assist our then-Online Visuals Editor/Operations Manager. When she moved to another company, we were working on some restructuring and our General Manager at the time saw a need for a dedicated assistant role for Sarah.
I began working directly for Sarah after I graduated in 2016, and working in multiple departments here really prepared me to be a ‘second brain’ for her.
AP: Obviously adding to your variety of roles within the company is your work as an illustrator, which has been featured within the magazine. Would you say Darling has had an influence on how your art has evolved?
ML: Yeah, definitely! Artistically, being next to Sarah has influenced my taste and my way of chasing and expressing it. I have to say — Sarah usually has a much more open mind than I do when it comes to what she likes, and it’s really widened my perspective, giving [me] a lot of freedom.
I’ve found Darling to be such special ground for building a culture of women who encourage and push other women to their deepest, best potential. Working amidst a team that is so richly talented and supportive has really stretched me to keep up.
It’s pushed me to better communicate ideas and reasons as to why I gravitate towards certain concepts, artists or mediums. It makes me excited to mature in what I want to express [in my] art.
AP: Describe your creative process. What does it feel like to start with a vague concept or idea, and mold it into a tangible work of art?
ML: It feels like searching for an answer to a question and putting shape to a feeling. It feels like giving respect to mystery and naming something that needs to be recognized.
I’s also been a lot of fun to work [collaboratively] on art for Darling. There’s a really satisfying sense of closure when, as a team, we feel like the art really expresses the thoughts and people behind stories.
AP: Describe the essence of Darling Magazine. Why do you feel our current culture needs its beautiful and intellectually stimulating content?
ML: My hope is that Darling, by its existence, hearkens to the fact that there is more to every person than what measurements [this] culture so immediately puts on you — in regards to your value, potential and overall joy in living.
AP: What is one of the greatest artistic or professional challenges you face each day? How do you rise above it?
ML: It’s probably in [wondering] whether I’m pushing myself enough on the creative side. Should I be writing more? Should I be selling prints? How should I be pricing my work?
The bulk of my job isn’t specifically creative, but it definitely helps that I come from that mindset. I have really [come to know] that every side of you is worth growing, and not just the artistic side when you have that creative stirring in you.
AP: What do you cherish most, regarding your work or otherwise?
ML: I really treasure that I get to live my life surrounded by some really amazing people that I’m grateful to love and be loved by.
AP: What are three things you cannot live without?
ML: A cup of water first thing in the morning, family (and friends who are like family), and probably sunlight — I’m a summer baby.
AP: Is there a quote you turn to for inspiration or when in need of grounding?
ML: There isn’t really one. But in regards to my faith and to how I face the good and bad of the day, I really look for gratefulness and think to myself, “I have all that I need.”
AP: What scares you?
ML: Overall, it probably scares me most to not live up to my potential — to leave something unsaid or undone that I was meant to do. But, to be honest, right now my first thought was dating!
AP: Given the opportunity, what advice would you offer to a younger Melanie?
ML: A little cliché, but accept love sooner and deeper. Don’t be scared to change as you grow, and when you do change, don’t be ashamed to return to things you’ve always loved.
WRITTEN BY ANGELINA PERINO
PHOTOS & ILLUSTRATIONS BY MELANIE LOON
Check out this recent piece Melanie wrote for the Darling blog.
See more of Melanie’s work via her website | melanieloon.com
Follow The Artists’ Cove on Instagram for daily photos, updates and behind the scenes content | @theartistscove
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