Drawing was a creative outlet for artist and activist Meg, popularly known as @megemikoart on Instagram and @megemiko TikTok, throughout most of their youth. As they got older, they wanted to continue to creatively express themselves while also sharing their journey to becoming their most authentic self, which then led them to post a YouTube video about their experience on low-dose testosterone. "I knew how badly I needed and wanted to see someone like me when I was growing up and because I never had that, I wanted to be that person for others," they told POPSUGAR.
Not only has the space to share their journey and experience been freeing and fulfilling for Meg, but they've also had many people reach out to thank them for doing so: "Knowing that I've been able to reach so many people is something I'll cherish forever."
A few years ago, Meg decided to leave their full-time job to pursue art. While it was "scary and extremely risky" because they didn't have anything set in stone when it came to their art and career path as they had also just recently dropped out of college, they decided to follow their heart. "Although I had so many recurring thoughts of self-doubt, I really believed in myself," they said. "I know it sounds cheesy, but there was something in me that felt like pursuing art full-time was going to change my life in a major way. After feeling so much pressure to conform to society's norms and expectations for most of my life, this was the first time where I felt free to build the life that I'd always wanted for myself."
Since then, their platform has only grown. With nearly 20K followers on Instagram, almost 15K followers on TikTok, and over 9K sales of their apparel on Etsy, they continuously empower, educate, and uplift their followers to be exactly who they are.
We sat down with Meg to learn more about the impacts of their art on social media, the power of allies supporting their work, and where they find inspiration.
POPSUGAR: Your Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube accounts have grown a lot over the last few months. What has this growth felt like for you? How does it feel to have your art out in the world?
Meg: Having my Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube grow over the last few months has made me [fee] overwhelmed, excited, and hopeful all at the same time! This journey has really been a wild rollercoaster of emotions and feelings. Ever since the beginning of this pandemic and experiencing quarantine, I've really realized how powerful and widespread social media is. You can really reach so many people and that's something that really motivates me to keep creating content. I know that I now have a platform to create and express myself, while also being able to spread awareness and encourage QTBIPOC allies to step up and take action against all of the racism, discrimination, and unjustified violence.
PS: What impacts, big or small, are you seeing from your art being out in the world?
M: The biggest impact has been being able to reach so many people with my art and apparel. Seeing so many QTBIPOC folks wearing my apparel out in the world has been something so special — especially because so many of them have reached out to me telling me how impactful it's been for them to see themselves represented in apparel. Another big impact has been having so many cisgender folks wearing my apparel and supporting my art. I've so often felt really alone in this fight for trans rights, so seeing so many folks ordering my apparel has felt like such a fulfilling experience — knowing that there are people out there who are fighting with and for us.
PS: You use your art as a form of both self-expression and activism. Why is doing so important to you? How has it impacted you as an artist?
M: My art really represents who I am as a whole. I had always been searching for a safe space to freely express myself and since I never found that, I wanted my art to be that safe space for me and others. I feel greatly impacted as an artist because I've realized how important Asian American and trans representation is, which gives me even more motivation to keep creating art and content that shares my story and educates others. I want to be able to express myself, while also showing the rest of the world what it means for me to live my life as my most authentic self.
PS: You actively use your platforms to advocate and educate, most recently surrounding anti-Asian hate crimes and anti-trans healthcare bills. How do you see this working alongside your art?
M: I feel like having my art and apparel alongside my advocacy is really helpful because I'm hopeful that my passion and motivation to fight for my communities is able to shine through so brightly when folks can tell that I'm committing my time and energy towards my art and advocacy. I've really never believed in myself more than I do now and I hope that everyone who sees my art, apparel, and advocacy efforts knows how much this all means to me. One of my main goals has been to connect my art, apparel, and creative content in order to reach as many people as I can and hopefully make lots of change happen.
PS: So many LGBTQIA+ folks find community online, especially when they are not affirmed in their personal relationships or community. How has this impacted your social media pages?
M: It's always been extremely important for me to create a safe space and community for my QTBIPOC friends. I've tried to make it really clear on social media and especially [in] my YouTube videos that I want everyone to know that they're not alone in this journey of exploring their gender, sexuality, and identity. Knowing that so many people come to my safe space when they're surrounded by unsupportive families and communities makes me feel even more motivated to keep putting content out there in the world.
PS: What is your creative process like? How do you go from an idea to the finished product?
M: Most if not all of my drawings and designs stem from some sort of feeling or emotion surrounding my gender and identity that's been suppressed over time — something that I maybe never felt safe enough to fully express or release. I usually start by doodling, writing down different notes, and allowing myself to freely draw whatever comes to mind when I think of that emotion or feeling. The creative juices usually flow very easily and smoothly because drawing really is my main way of expressing my creativity, identity, and beliefs.
PS: You've talked about how wearing your apparel has felt euphoric, as you finally feel represented in clothing. Can you talk a little bit more about that?
M: I used to walk through the mall searching for clothes that felt like me and I never once walked into a clothing store and felt seen or represented — whether it was in the types of apparel, designs on the clothes, or the mannequins. Wearing the apparel I've designed has made me feel so euphoric because the designs and types of clothing feel like they represent me and the part of my identity that I had suppressed for so long.
PS: What is the power of people, including cisgender folks, wearing your apparel out in public?
M: I feel that it's important for cisgender folks to wear my apparel out in public because the trans and QTBIPOC communities need as much representation as they can get. By wearing my apparel, you're showing a trans person that you're a safe place for them. A trans kid, teenager, or adult may see you wearing this apparel and feel seen, heard, represented, and loved out in the world for the very first time. Most of my apparel designs are also great conversation starters, so if a cisgender person calls themselves a trans ally, wearing my apparel out in in public is way for them to step up and take action — to show everyone that trans folks are here to stay even when there are so many people who don't want us to survive or thrive.
PS: Do you have any advice for non-binary folks who have not come out or who have recently?
M: My advice for any trans non-binary folks who haven't come out yet is that wherever you are on your journey of exploring your gender, there is no rush or timeline that you have to follow in order for your gender identity to feel or be valid. Whether you have plans to come out soon or not, just by exploring your gender, you're living life as your most authentic self, which is really something beautiful that unfortunately, not a lot of people will experience in their entire lifetime. No one will ever walk in your shoes or live your specific life, so you should always follow what feels right for you and no one else.
PS: What is bringing you joy or comfort recently?
M: Spending time with my friends, family, and dogs makes me so happy and brings me the most comfort these days. I'm really at my happiest when I'm outside and enjoying the sun. Something else that has been bringing me a lot of joy has been connecting with so many other artists and activists. I feel so much less alone in this fight for our safety within our communities.
PS: Who do you look to for inspiration?
M: There are so many people who inspire me, but the first person who comes to mind is Schuyler Bailar (@pinkmantaray). Schuyler was one of the first people who made me feel seen, heard, and represented. We are both half Korean and I immediately felt such a strong sense of relatability to him and his story as an Asian American trans person who was also my age. I've now been able to connect with him and send him some of my apparel, but he is still to this day one of my biggest inspirations.