Woman of Environmental Arts

Meg Lemieur

Meg is an artist and activist whose work juxtaposes nature with the human experience while exploring the themes of social and environmental justice. For over a decade, Meg’s dedication to this passion has shaped her art, which is used to aid the health of the earth, humans, and all who dwell here. Meg's work is unique in that it celebrates the amazing feats of the natural world while uplifting the viewer through encouraging messages and acknowledging the complexity of our world. 

Graduating from the University of the Arts with a Bachelor’s degree in Illustration, Meg launched her creative career in the toy industry. After a few years, she shifted into sculpture, puppets and prop building. After joining the Beehive Design Collective in 2013, Meg solidified her career as an illustrator, entwining her skills with advocacy and social justice campaigns while building a career as a freelance illustrator.

In 2017, Meg teamed up with New Jersey Illustrator Bri Barton to create Water Ways, a highly detailed mural sized illustration that tells the multi-faceted story of the impacts of the fracking industry in the Mid-Atlantic region. In 2018, they created a role-playing game using the characters within the illustration to actively engage audience members in the storytelling. The goal of these events is to base-build, educate, and cross-pollinate activist campaign circles, emboldening participants to act and protect the Earth and all life on it. 

More recently, Meg collaborated with Trinity Norwood of the Nanticoke Lenape Nation to illustrate a map of the Delaware River Watershed, highlighting local flora, fauna, Lenape-specific place names and historic Lenape plant uses.

We asked Meg some questions for our profile (This interview has been edited for length and clarity):

Water Ways

Have you always thought of yourself as an artist?

Ever since I was a small child, I had a need for creative expression. I drew a lot and took it seriously, so people called me an artist. But I don’t think I thought of myself as an “Artist” until I was in my 20’s, getting commissions to create art regularly. 

Where does your passion for nature come from?

I’ve always enjoyed outdoor adventures  hiking, kayaking, biking, etc. But I think that I took nature for granted until 2008 when I started supporting people in rural Pennsylvania whose land was being destroyed by the fracking industry. Poisoned water, fish die-offs, air pollution, withered crops, and subsequent disease and illness. It was horrifying. Learning about the harm coming to the land and animals (including humans) was a catalyst for me to illustrate and vocalize what I love about it all and why and how we need to protect it. The passion that comes out through my work today is an embodiment of the love I have always had. 

Besides the role-playing game, what other toys or games have you worked on?

Fun fact: my first job out of college was in the toy and game industry. I love illustrating and designing fun, educational games. In the last couple years, I co-illustrated the nature-based game Aqua Marooned! which is a card game that encourages people to interact with their natural environment in creative ways while out on a hike with friends. Right now, I am co-illustrating a board game called Defenders of the Wild. More on that below. And, next year, I will start illustrating another tabletop game based on water that I can’t talk about quite yet.

Can you tell us more about the process you go through in creating an illustration?

When I first get an illustration assignment, I want to get excited about the project. Having an emotional connection to the piece I’m creating makes a huge difference on how it comes out. Once I’m all pumped up about the project, I do a bunch of research to make sure that every part of my illustration will be accurate. Then I start pulling my pencil across the pages of my sketchbook. It is helpful to do lots of sketching to brainstorm the best compositions, character poses, perspectives, and page layouts. Once I have some solid sketches, I send them to my client, if I have one, or creative friends for feedback. After incorporating that feedback into final sketches, I then get a fresh piece of high-quality paper and ink my drawing. I love this process the most because I’m able to refine the shapes I’m drawing with varied line weights while adding character and energy to the whole piece. I then scan in my inked drawing and color everything digitally, which gives me the flexibility to play with color options before landing on the final version. I print my illustrations locally at a print shop that I used to work at. 

Can you tell us what you’re working on now?

I recently came out with an illustrated map of Lenapehoking, or “The Land of the Lenape”, which is a very similar geographic area as the Delaware River Watershed. I worked with a Nanticoke Lenni-Lenape consultant on the map, which contains over 60 species of flora and fauna along with indigenous place names, important animals, and uses for plants.

Right now my big project is co-illustrating a board game called Defenders of the Wild. It is a game where animals are fighting machines to protect their habitats from industrialization and destruction. It seems like this is a common theme for my work, which I love. And with this game, I get to put a magical, witchy twist to the illustrations. We are going to be crowdfunding the game in the spring of 2023, so keep a look out!

What’s something about you we probably don’t know?

Well, I found a bunch of dinosaur bone fossils this summer! That was kind of mind blowing for me. I went on a paleontological dig in Montana with an organization called Elevation Science. One day, I decided to go prospecting for new fossils with a friend, while everyone else was digging at the established quarries. We stumbled across some 150-million-year-old therapod bones in the middle of the high desert that no one had ever seen before. There were even some really large bones sticking out of the ground when we brushed away the top layer of dirt. We’re going back next year to dig them up. Very exciting!

 

If you would like information on being a sponsor of the 2023 Celebrating Women in Conservation Awards event, please contact Travis DiNicola at dinicola@pennfuture.org or 717-214-7924.

Thanks to our sponsors!

Jaimie and David Field