Ever since she burst onto the Instagram scene with @butlikemaybe– a nameless and virtually faceless (more on that later) female cartoon character who seamlessly blends of the peaks and pits of millennial living- Arianna Margulis’ character has made a name for herself as the caricature of the modern-day adult. Here, she talks expanding from single frame Instagram posts to full-blown comic books, where the brand is heading and answers our Highbrow Questionnaire.
THE @BUTLIKEMAYBE ORIGIN STORY:
“I always drew and doodled. I definitely drew more than class than I paid attention [laughs]. After college, I had been working in the fashion industry designing store windows here in New York, and drawing was my way to decompress. I was dating a guy who worked with me at Ralph [Lauren] at the time, and after we had got back from visiting his parents one weekend, he dumped me out of the blue. I was so angry, but I was also kind of able to laugh about it considering one of the reasons he gave for dumping me was that I ‘threw off his meditation schedule.’
I took out all of my anger on my drawings, and in that process, created this character who is sort of a version of me, but more like an alter-ego. I initially just put the drawings on my personal Instagram until a friend told me to get a second Instagram just for the doodles, so that’s when I started @butlikemaybe.
It’s always so funny to see people tag their friends on @butlikemaybe’s Instagram photos and say things like “OMG, she looks so much like ‘so and so’!” or even when people say she looks like me because she’s basically just eyes and a mouth [laughs]. I purposefully drew her that way, colorless, and pretty much face-less, so that people can project themselves onto her. She can be any of us!”
HOW THE OG COMICS LIKE THE SIMPSONS AND POWER PUFF GIRLS SERVE AS CREATIVE INSPIRATION FOR @BUTLIKEMAYBE:
“In the same way that I’m a little scared to grow up, I’m scared for @butlikemaybe to grow up, too! I envision her being like the Simpsons or Power Puff Girls, so even though her story evolves, she’ll always cater to this ‘young adult’ time in your life and won’t age out of it. That phase is an experience everyone goes through with so many storylines to tell. There’s something so cool about a relatable character who is going through all the stuff that you are to help laugh at yourself; you feel less alone.
HOW THE @BUTLIKEMAYBE BRAND HAS EXPANDED OFF OF INSTAGRAM:
“A friend of a friend knew someone at Cosmopolitan [Magazine], and when they featured @butlikemaybe on their Snapchat, we got a huge amount of followers, and from there it took off.
Six months after the account started, I got a Facebook message from this girl named Dru from L.A. who I met once in a hip hop class. She said she loved the account and had a friend at her work who could help us turn @butlikemaybe into a real, physical comic book. We had one phone call and immediately decided to go for it, so through Google Docs and Facetime, we bicoastally created the drawings, script, and book. So now, the Instagram account is where I do New Yorker-style, one frame drawings, and a lot of the content is based on ‘universal truths,’ and the comic books are where Dru and I get to flush out @butlikemaybe as a character. It’s like an ongoing saga where we introduce new friends, new places, new challenges and you get to see her whole world!”
ON THE EVOLUTION OF @BUTLIKEMAYBE AS A CHARACTER:
“I see myself and @butlikemaybe both growing a lot together. She’s starting to learn from her mistakes, like now that she’s been dumped a few times, she’s getting smarter, kind of like I did after my relationships ended. Even though she’s a millennial, and we as a generation get a bad rep, what’s so fun about @butlikemaybe is you want her to win. Even when she makes mistakes, you’re still rooting for her because you see a little bit of yourself in her. I think her repeating mistakes is a little endearing, but mainly it’s realistic. We all do it! We go back to the guy we know we’re not supposed to be with; we drink too much tequila on Fridays, it happens [laughs].”
OCCUPATION Creator and illustrator of @butlikemaybe.
FIRST THING YOU DO WHEN YOU WAKE UP Eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich with orange juice! I’m such a child.
WORKOUT I’m an Equinox girl. I’m always the one doing those crazy ab moves that look like you’re thrusting.
HERO BEAUTY PRODUCT Lancome Artliner Precision Felt Tip Liquid Liner. I am so bad at doing my own makeup, but I like to do baby cat eyes when I go out, and this pen makes it so easy.
CELEBRITY BEAUTY MUSE Cara Delevingne for eyebrows, Charlize Theron for skin.
WEEKDAY WARDROBE High waisted vintage Levi’s, or the Saint Laurent Jeans I splurged on that I’ve never washed, with a cropped white Brandy Melville tee.
NIGHTLY RITUAL I had such a bad acne problem growing up, to the point where I would ask my Mom to let me stay home from school, and I learned to use Photoshop just to edit my photos and see what I would look like without acne. The only thing that cleared it up was ProActiv. It changed my life, and I still use it every night before I go to bed. It’d be a dream to work with them or be some sort of spokesperson.
STRESS RELIEVER Drawing, for sure. I do all my drawings in the moment, but I do have a running list of different ideas or scenarios that inspire me on my phone. I get asked all the time if I do my drawings on a computer, but it’s really just me in my little apartment with a sharpie.
GUILTY PLEASURE Margaritas! I’m obsessed with margaritas and fish tacos, and every Friday I go to Rosie’s on 2nd Street. I know everyone there, it’s my haven.
29 EAST 2ND STREET
NEW YORK CITY 10003
VACATION SPOT Soho House Hotel in Miami. It’s a magical place that’s only a couple hours away but still feels totally tropical.
HIDDEN GEM IN NEW YORK There’s this crappy bodega that sells cigarettes and soft serve ice cream on Avenue A between 8th and 9th. Their Pistachio Soft Serve is the best thing in the entire world.