The Cliffs Community: Connie

She may be known as “Cartoon Connie” online, but everywhere else, she’s just Connie: artist, writer, climber. The truth is, when you meet Connie in person, her personality won’t clue you in to her online audience of over 18k. She’s kind, sincere, usually sporting a sweet smile, and exceedingly humble. At the gym, you’ll catch her crushing on routes and boulders or working out on the fitness mezz.

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Connie’s comics stand out for the same reasons she’s so lovely in person: they’re thoughtful and personal, often dealing with themes like self-esteem, loneliness, and fear, but always featuring a bit of her slightly self-deprecating humor.

Connie: I moved to New York from California with a lot of bottled up dreams—and for grad school to pursue a career in education. In the process of finding my way and uncorking those bottled up creative ambitions, I needed to first learn to become a cartoonist. Then I needed to learn to become a climber.

For the past 7 years, Connie has been drawing a daily journal comic strip and posting it in the morning before going to her full-time job in higher education management. That’s a lot of comics, and a lot of work! In 2015, she started climbing, and just recently, she left her job to pursue her artwork full time.

Connie: I was super shy, self-conscious, and out of shape, but there was something about the activity that was humbling and ego-crushing in the best way. I struggled, but was drawn to the challenge. And my ego definitely needed crushing.
Connie: Climbing has become a big part of my life and it goes hand-in-hand with my cartooning practice as a touchstone for how I'm feeling and anything I'm working through. Cartooning is a solitary activity for me, whereas climbing is social—I'm always learning from and leaning on the people around me. Climbing socialized me. I went from being uber self-conscious and afraid to talk to people to realizing how important community is and how much we all need each other, especially when it's darkest and we feel the most alone. Through both [climbing and cartooning], I'm reconnecting mind, body, and creative spirit.

It’s a huge leap to leave a secure career path to pursue something creative, but with Connie’s talent and her dedication, we’re sure she’ll find the beta.

Connie: As for climbing goals, I want to get outdoors as much as possible and start to learn trad skills, the art of which is creating your own path up the mountain. I'd say they are definitely related :).
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We asked Connie if she had any advice for artists at the start of their careers and climbers just getting into it. Her advice to both is almost identical - which makes sense. To quote her comic: “In climbing as in life: one side of climbing is holding on with all of your strength, the other side, just as essential, is learning to let go.”

For artists: Keep making work. It's okay if it sucks. Forgive yourself. As long as you keep moving, you'll get where you need to go.

For new climbers: It's okay to suck! Forgive yourself. Find your try-hard happy place and keep moving. Make friends with climbers.

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To summarize: It’s okay to suck, practice forgiveness, and keep moving.

You can follow Connie’s work on her instagram @cartoonconnie or on her website Thank you to Andres Burgos for taking these photos and to Connie for laying on her artistic flair!

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