Laura Berger’s Tips for Staying Sane During the Trump Presidency

We talked to the American illustrator about travel, activism and the benefits of tuning out orange-faced idiots.

You’ve probably stumbled upon American artist Laura Berger’s pastel-toned and softly feminine illustrations on Instagram, or perhaps through her work for The New York Times. But don’t mistake artistic palatability for personal complacency. As the American election progressed last year, seemingly so did her work: she began to increasingly depict self-loving, diverse women, happily flaunting their nude lumps and bumps and joining hands in weightless universes full of organic motifs.

Altogether, the work she’s produced over the past year seems like a statement supporting diversity, feminism and climate change awareness. With that in mind, we thought we’d ask her how she’s dealing with the Trump Presidency, as well as touch on what she has planned for her upcoming trip to Peru, courtesy of The Jaunt.

GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hey, Laura. You’re a pretty strong advocate against Trump. We are over 100 days in now. How are you coping?

Laura Berger: It feels like some kind of endless, surreal, bad dream and it has honestly been extremely draining. As far as coping, I’m finding as with any traumatic or very upsetting event, our brains and bodies eventually step up to protect us from losing our minds. I was almost obsessed with the news and pretty much freaking out all of the time at the beginning. Now I feel just as engaged as ever, and I’m doing my diligence as issues arise, but I have also adapted. I tune his voice, presence and idiotic words out as much as I can and focus on getting my news from reputable sources. But also, I’ve learned to turn it off when I have learned enough for the day. And I focus hoping to get him out of there as quickly as possible.

So do you see some light at the end of this dark tunnel?

I do. I feel a deep confidence that he will be impeached and I’m trusting that. The resistance movement against him has also been working quite effectively on many levels and has blocked the majority of his destructive efforts thus far. Those things comfort me. Beyond that, it is also exciting and hopeful that so many of us are learning for the first time to be activists and show up for what we believe in. I hope this encourages people to remain politically involved into the next election and beyond. This whole situation reminds me of when you are in a terrible relationship or you go through something traumatic. It is awful but when you finally get through it, you are so much wiser and stronger and carry all of that with you going forward. And I do believe that good prevails.

The most beautiful thing I have seen during this Trump administration is the unity that artists have shown. How have you been involved personally?

I agree, it has been an uplifting thing and I feel like the energy around the community effort is palpable. I have been going to the protests, staying very engaged with any political or humanitarian actions I can on a grassroots level, and donating portions of proceeds from my website shop to organizations that protect us from this threatening administration.

When I get back from Peru, I plan to start volunteering to help advocate for the immigrant and refugee communities here in Chicago. Our country was founded on open doors and we would be nothing without the diversity that is here. It is what I love about the US, and my heart breaks for what people are experiencing and the enormous impact this administration is having on their well-being. I also plan to do more political work on the ground for the elections in 2018 and 2020.

Does it help for you to go and travel and clear your head for a while? 

Yes, more than anything. It is pretty much the answer to everything for me.

What is your next trip that you have planned?

First off I’m going to Lima, Peru, for The Jaunt project, which I’m thankful to be a part of. Beyond the Lima trip, I’d love to get to Japan this year. I want to go back to Tokyo for a bit and also visit the island of Naoshima; I didn’t get there last time I went and it looks incredible.

The Jaunt project is where you travel to a new destination with the express purpose of finding inspiration. Do you know what you want to do and see in Lima already?

Yes, I have lots of ideas and I always want to do so much. We will see what I can fit in! The museums look amazing; the Museo Larco is the museum of pre-Columbian art and has a huge collection of pottery and sculpture which I know will be really inspiring. I also love visiting ruins, so I’ll see Huaca Pullanca, which still exists right in the middle of the city (so cool) and also possibly check out some nearby ruins if I can grab a bus out for a day.

There are some good mercados that I’m excited about and the food scene in Lima is world-renowned so I’m all over that; I have a list of recommended spots to check out. My partner is in the restaurant industry so we get really into eating, and there is so much to be learned about a culture from the food. And since I have been feeling pretty depleted lately, I’m also looking forward to some time to just be by the ocean and wander around with no agenda.

Finally; Any suggestions for what we can all do to clear our minds every once in a while from all the crazy stuff happening these days?

I think I need help with this myself as well! Things that usually work for me are meditation, making things, going for a walk or run, being in nature, travelling, and when all else fails: a decent amount of really nice red wine.

Thanks, Laura.