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The City Journals

Murray-born illustrator pays homage to the pandemic way of life

May 21, 2020 10:46AM ● By Shaun Delliskave

Susan Fitch’s illustration pays tribute to all medical professionals engaged in the fight against COVID-19. (Illustration courtesy of Susan Fitch)

By Shaun Delliskave | [email protected]

For years, Murray-born-and-raised illustrator Susan Meeks Fitch has drawn children’s book characters set in colorful and sometimes playful scenes. But one day during the coronavirus lockdown, she felt compelled to draw something different, something more present.

“The whole thing concerns me. I guess maybe I’m afraid that we won’t take it seriously enough,” said Fitch. “We are hearing all these things in the news about people suffering and dying, but here at home, tucked away safely in my little house in Kaysville with my family, it doesn’t seem real.”

Fitch has illustrated the “What If” book series (www.whatifbookseries.com) written by her friend Tim Brown. She has also created Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-themed art for a variety of outlets. She is presently illustrating a book based on a poem written by her third great-grandfather about the story of Saint Patrick.

“I studied illustration at Salt Lake Community College and Utah State University. I haven’t ever truly pursued working professionally as an artist because I’m busy being a mom right now,” the Murray High grad said. “I have a child with special needs, which makes it hard to commit to things outside the home. I end up doing most of my drawing while sitting on the couch in front of the TV after the kids have gone to bed.”

After college, Fitch made connections with various authors through friends and family. When she isn’t engaged in a book project, she posts her creativity on social media. She sells many of her drawings through her Etsy shop. However, after seeing her son’s workplace during the coronavirus quarantine, she changed her artistic direction.

“My son works as a bagger at a grocery store. He wears gloves and a mask—mostly because I make him. I’m alarmed at how many people, workers and the general public alike, don’t seem to take any precautions at all,” Fitch said.

Fitch dropped everything else and started sketching the first in a new gallery: life in social distancing.

“We are all in quarantine, but I haven’t seen any actual evidence of the virus around me, so I think it would be easy, especially now that we’re all getting tired of being at home, to get a false sense of security. That could be really dangerous. I think it’s probably harder to do the right thing and follow the safety guidelines without seeing it around us rather than if we were in the thick of it,” Fitch said. “I don’t want our complacency to allow us to make poor choices and create more of a problem here. We might not have a problem in our neighborhood, but we aren’t immune to it, and prevention is the way we have to stay safe. I don’t think it makes you paranoid or an alarmist if you want to be careful.”

While Fitch looks forward to depicting less stressful times in her artwork, her perspective still is to convey the message that small actions matter to get the pandemic behind us.

“I’m not sure what made me start posting them on social media. I think maybe I did that just because that’s the only way we can connect with others right now. I had no idea they would mean anything to anybody,” Fitch said.

One group of illustrations focuses on wearing a mask, while another group show parents who are frazzled with task of distance learning. She has been encouraged to collect these drawings in a book.

According to Fitch, “If my little drawings can help another person in any small way—well, isn’t that what it’s all about—helping each other? We’re all in this together, so we all do what we can. I just feel blessed that something I love doing so much can help others. It feels good to be able to do that.

“I’m glad that others are enjoying them. I keep getting messages from my family and friends saying how much they enjoy seeing them every day and what a light they have been. It makes my day to hear that.”

Susan Fitch’s drawings can be found online at www.Etsy.com/shop/SusanFitchDesign