This month, Chelsea Beck left us for the big tube after nearly four years of illustrating for over half a dozen sites. Here’s how we’ll remember her.
When Chelsea joined the team she brought with her the kind of energy. enthusiasm, talent, and professionalism that every team would be lucky to have. Her work had been stellar since she arrived and yet it continued to develop, grow, and become more versatile over time. Full of ideas and game to try anything, her artwork on a blog made the blog better every time. This one on public tantrums is a personal favorite of mine, and this one on the pets that get left behind after a disaster is stunning.
She was also not shy about requesting any blogs about animals we ever published, and I was happy to oblige. This one still makes me laugh every time. She even got to make a zine about birds.
Okay but this is supposed to be a roast so I have an important warning to anyone working with her in the future. Chelsea has had a funny blindspot where she might draw the wrong hands and feet on the wrong limbs. You’re going to want to keep an eye on that.
When I found out my new coworker lived down the block from me I was immediately filled with dread at the thought that my commute, normally spent dissociative, was going to become a daily, 40-minute struggle to maintain a conversation. Fortunately for me, Chelsea has no problem filling a silence. I’ve never heard stranger noises come out of a person’s mouth. I’ll miss each and every one of them.
Those 40 minutes spilled into weeknights, weekends, dinners, trips. She peeled me off the floor when I was hopelessly immobile, she guided me through the 12 layers of product needed to make my skin immaculate, we laid our souls bare over innumerable hours in the Union Square McDonald’s. It was the fastest-growing friendship I’ve experienced to date.
I’ve met few people as talented, vivacious, and quick-witted as Chelsea. From the clever to the delicate to the impossibly dumb, she can handle whatever you throw at her at a moment’s notice. As someone I respect deeply and love dearly, I’m lucky to have worked with her, and luckier to have her in my life still.
I remember Chelsea’s first day at GMG: Her seat was next to mine, and management at the time was giving all new hires swag bags. The bags came with typical company-branded stuff, a little moleskin notebook, a pen, and a mug. Chelsea’s bag, though, only had one jagged piece of a broken mug in it. I knew we were gonna be friends when she decided to save the broken piece of the mug and had it on display above her desk for the entire time we worked at that office (RIP 2W 17th). Like her broken mug shard, Chelsea was the missing piece to our team. Through everything Chelsea just being there made it all more bearable. I can hear her nervously laughing now :) hahaha This is Fine hahaha (:
Chelsea is someone you want on your team not only because she’s really smart or insanely talented or because she’s funny as hell but because she’s a damn good person. She can also draw Sailor Moon better with her LEFT FOOT than most of us could draw with our dominant hand. I’m gonna miss her so much.
One morning Chelsea came running into the office (remember those?) out of breath and apologizing for being late. She explained it was because she was helping sort out a situation with that guy—you know, the one who always had all the animals on the corner with him? The guinea pig was always the star of the show for me. Actually, now that I think about it there were multiple incidences of Chelsea running late because she was helping someone or someone’s dog. But that’s just Chelsea. She’s one of the good ones.
As a parting gift to our dear Chelsea Beck (not the singer), I’m answering her call from 2017 to draw Shrek *from memory*, you can really tell I didn’t cheat. Deepest apologies to Shrek and his family.
I’ll be rooting for ya my little hash brown loving, dog crazy, pal. Those YouTubers are so lucky to have you. <3 xxxxxx
Chelsea Beck is the only person I know that can create a masterpiece with one hand while eating copious amounts of chicken nuggets in the other. I’m proud to call you a friend.
My relationship with Chelsea more or less goes as follows: I send Chelsea extremely blurry selfies, she sends me drawings of birds, we chat for a while classifying our coworkers into “dads” and “fathers” or something, and then we don’t talk for a long time, growing increasingly stressed that the other one is angry for not having sent a bird drawing or blurry selfie. One time Chelsea even drew me as a bird!! This working relationship functions perfectly to me, because Chelsea’s work is utterly amazing while she also remains extremely chill and easy to work with. I feel so privileged that I’ve gotten to work with someone as talented as Chelsea and that I’ll get to keep working with her on projects in the future. Have fun being Captain Content YouTube!!
One day at G/O media, back when Chelsea and I were colleagues, we took a very long lunch and walked over to a Japanese bookstore in Times Square to browse the manga. Chelsea appears quite put together and can easily out-makeup any Sephora salesperson, but please know that she has the anime taste of a 12-year-old Midwestern boy. This was confirmed for me when, in the bookstore, Chelsea’s eyes wandered over to some smutty anime figurines. I say this without judgment, but I thought I saw a globule of drool escape her mouth as she stood before a figurine of Inuyasha (or was it Rurouni Kenshin?), shirt opened.
Chelsea was conflicted. She needed the figurine. But she is also an exceptionally talented and dependable professional who worked on the 666th floor of some glassy Times Square skyscraper. And it was expensive. With some encouragement, though, Chelsea bought the figurine. Eventually, she would proudly display it on her desk.
There are few more satisfying feelings for a writer than to get our point across as best we can. For a lot of reasons, we can’t always do that. (I promise I’m going somewhere with this.) The world is complicated and writing is hard. That’s where Chelsea came in. Chelsea’s rare skill is synthesizing a 5,000-word draft into a beautiful, conceptually tight image that not only conveyed but furthered the point of our writing. She made dumb things feel smart and smart things feel smarter. I once wrote an overwrought feature about a never-aired American Sailor Moon. Chelsea stayed up really late and fucking drew this:
Chelsea has this power because she treats other people’s passions (and her own) with dignity. Kids’ anime and all. That’s one reason why G/O’s gotten so much goddamn great art from her—like everyone else, she loves what others might consider weird or smutty or niche, but unlike everyone else, she owns it and respects it. Her illustrations ask others to respect it, too. It is amazing to feel seen by somebody so skilled at their craft!
Chelsea’s not dead, she just went to work for the man. And if they aren’t letting her draw Obama yaoi, their loss!!!