We are teaming up with OKREAL for our interview series, “Pay it Forward.” We spoke with women who we collectively admire to hear what mentorship means to them, the advice that has been most meaningful and the importance of uplifting the women around you. OKREAL is a platform that curates wisdom shared by a range of smart, leading women role models.

Last up in our series is illustrator Malika Favre, most well-known for her New Yorker covers. We spoke with Favre about when and where she does her best work, her definition of a mentor and why she pushes herself.

Over the course of “Pay it Forward,” we’ve spoken to author Roxane Gay, philanthropist Savannah James, comedian Jenny Yang and other inspiring women. Find the full list at the bottom of this article.

Do you have a female mentor or leader you respect? Who is she?

I met many amazing women in my life but if I had to narrow it down there were 3 key women mentors:

  1. My mum, because she taught me how to draw, how to look at things around me and how growing up kind was far better than growing up smart.
  2. My literature teacher from middle school, Mariel Morize, who was a strong and brilliant woman as well as a free spirit. A friend and I used to drop by her house on evenings or weekends to have endless conversations about books, love and life.
  3. Nat Hunter, one of the three founders of Airside, where I worked in my 20s. She is an incredible woman as well as a great creative director, always full of energy and ideas but also just a great person to be around. She wore her heart on her sleeve but wouldn’t take any bullshit from anybody.

I wouldn’t be the same if I hadn’t met every single one of them.

What qualities make a good mentor or leader?

Fairness, intelligence, empathy and a good balance of authority and laxity.

Mentors come in all different forms, and are not always people who we expect. What is your experience with this?

From experience, it usually takes years for someone to realize that a specific person influenced their life in a radical way. As kids, we expect teachers to fill that role but that is unfortunately not always the case. At the end of the day a mentor is someone that understands who you are and what you need at a certain point in time and embraces guiding you through it. It could be for a week, a year or your entire life if you are lucky.

What is something a woman mentor or leader did for you, that you now try and do for other women?

Hearing their life stories is always what inspired me, so I make a point of sharing my experience and my story in order to inspire other women to do the same. I do it through doing conferences but also simply through my daily work by drawing strong and independent women. Or by sharing it with you now.

How did that experience (of what your mentor did for you) change your career/life?

I can’t really identify a single mentor that changed my career or life but rather a succession of meaningful encounters that have a lot to do with who I am now.

What’s one piece of advice that you struggle to put into practice (even though you know you should)?

To be more patient. Definitely not my best quality.

Where and when do you do your best work?

When the emails stop coming in so late at night. I love working from home, surrounded by patterns and block colors and never too far from the coffee machine.

What is your biggest “Aha!” moment or breakthrough?

I have had a few in my career. My biggest one was probably a couple of years ago when I realize that, as an illustrator, you rarely get commissioned to draw something you have never drawn before. Clients tend to be risk averse so the only way to push yourself and your work is to do personal work.

What is once piece of advice that someone can put into action today?

To travel as much as possible, even if only for a weekend. Getting out of your comfort zone and daily routine and exploring somewhere new goes a long way.

What is one thing you want women to keep in mind as they go through life?

That being a woman is ace and definitely not the short straw. The older I get the more impressed I am by the caliber of women I meet. I love being a woman and wouldn’t change it for the world.

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