Bloomfield Hills native Arianna Margulis recalls that her high school years at Cranbrook Kingswood are an inspiration for her recent successes in New York City – even if she did spend part of her time doodling in class.
"I feel Cranbrook prepared me more than anything. It's a crazy unique place. We were sitting in Saarinen rooms with Eames chairs. I didn't realize how cool it was. Now my apartment has an Ikea coffee table and mice.
"It was a really awesome place to feel like you were learning, but also inspired at the same time, even though I was partially doodling during class. Maybe it was an environment that smiled on me that more than others that were more rigid."
Margulis still spends a good part of her day doodling, posting her sketches online to her Instagram account, webpage and comic books under the name "But Like Maybe?" She also signed with a top talent agency based in Los Angeles with the goal of turning the comics into a television series.
Based on "real-life experiences and questions about life, boys and stuff," But Like Maybe features Margulis's imaginary best friend. Taking on the struggles of the millennial woman, But Like Maybe addresses issues like constant over-analyzing, love and rejection, selfies and hangovers. Or, as described by The New Yorker, "a 'Cathy' for our device driven times.”
"It's past me, it's present me, it's future me. It's all these issues," Margulis said. "There are girls who are 13 who write me, and some who are 65. But it's not just women. Everyone has insecurities, and pain and emotion. It's all over the board. It's refreshing to almost overshare in a way. I've enjoyed doing it and I think it's cool to relate on all sorts of levels.”
Margulis credits her inspiration for But Like Maybe stemming from a bad breakup with a boyfriend. At the time, both she and her former beau were working for Ralph Lauren.
"I thought we would be this amazing couple. One day we went for a walk in Central Park, and I thought he was going to tell me he loved me or proclaim something," she said. "He sat me down on a park bench and said, 'you're an amazing girl, but...'"
The main reason for the break-up that Margulis remembers: "He was telling me I was getting in the way of his meditation schedule."
From there, she began doodling and making jokes about getting dumped, transferring the doodles to her Instagram account. Soon, she started gaining a following. When a friend of a friend who worked at Cosmopolitan wrote a short on But Like Maybe on Snapchat, she gained 20,000 new followers overnight. Today, she has more than 160,000 followers to her Instagram account.
Margulis also teamed up with her West Coast friend Dru Radovich who collaborated on two comic books under the But Like Maybe name, with Margulis doing the art and Radovich the words. The two are now working together with Creative Artists Agency for a possible television show.
While the comics are opening new paths for Margulis, she continues to balance it with her freelance work in design and social media. The balance provides more time for her own work than working in corporate New York.
"I was still drawing them every day when I got home from work, and I still do," she said. "I don't like the excuse that 'I don't have enough time.' If you want something, you'll figure out a way to do it."
Photo: Caroline Owens