Bad-Ass Babe Workbook

Love books about strong women and love activities – this book is a bit of a both – it keeps your mind working !! I really recommend this for under $25.00 you can bring a lot of joy to yourself or someone else – it is a great gift !!

Unleash your creativity and unearth your inner badass during Women’s History Month in March, with the Badass Babe Workbook. Part history lesson, part writing primer, and part art instruction, author and artist Julie van Grol’s goal for this book is to help everyone recognize powerful women who have come before them…and become powerful themselves.

The BADASS BABE WORKBOOK Features profiles of over 100 strong, empowered women from history and today who contributed to a variety of fields, including:

Ada Lovelace · Katherine Johnson · Leslie Jones · Kathrine Switzer · Simone de Beauvoir · Sojourner Truth · bell hooks · Marsha P. Johnson · Selena Quintanilla · Ursula K. Leguin · Tilda Swinton · Shirley Chisholm · Wilma Mankiller · Vivienne Westwood · Billie Jean King · Simone Biles · Lili’uokalani ·
and many, many more

Ada Lovelace · Katherine Johnson · Leslie Jones · Kathrine Switzer · Simone de Beauvoir · Sojourner Truth · bell hooks · Marsha P. Johnson · Selena Quintanilla · Ursula K. Leguin · Tilda Swinton · Shirley Chisholm · Wilma Mankiller · Vivienne Westwood · Billie Jean King · Simone Biles · Lili’uokalani ·
and many, many more

100 profiles of trailblazing women accompany dozens of prompts, art activities, and writing exercises that encourage you to cultivate your creative voice.


What is your background ?

I’m from McHenry, Illinois, which is a northwest suburb of Chicago. I always loved to draw and paint, and when it came time to apply for college, I knew I would eventually major in art, but didn’t know how I would use it.


I went to a liberal arts college (St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN)  for undergrad and got my bachelor’s in studio art. I had heard of illustration but didn’t know much about it, so I sought out every book and resource on the subject between undergrad and my eventual pursuit of an MFA. I eventually got my MFA in illustration from Minneapolis  College of Art and Design, where I now teach. Since earning my MFA, my life has been a mixture of teaching, freelance, and other side gigs to help pay the bills!


In the past year or so, my illustration practice has picked up quite a bit and my teaching career is going well, too!


Why a Badass Babe Workbook ?

In the summer of 2016, I wanted to embark on a 100-day personal project in order to get myself to not only draw every day, but to share it on Instagram (I’m not super savvy with social media). I decided to find a subject that aligned as many of my interests/goals as possible, so the idea of doing a portrait of a badass woman/femme was the first idea that came to me.


The project was really great for me. It connected me with lots of new people, increased my following, and even got some press. Completely coincidentally, the 100th day of the project was the day after the presidential election. It turned out to be super inspiring and reassuring to have 100 stories in recent memory of women who overcame difficult circumstances and still persisted.


Somewhere along the journey of the Instagram project, an editor from Quarto Books got in contact with me about putting together a book that could combine my project with an activity book. We worked together to put together a book that would illuminate inspiring stories and also connect those stories to something within the reader to drive a creative drawing or writing activity.


Who are some of the women that readers will learn about and why did you pick them ?

The book’s list of women is a lot of the folks I included in the original Instagram project, but also lots of new ones too! I tried to keep the group as diverse and inclusive as I could– our only limit was the number of pages in the book!


The women includes range from athletes (like Serena Williams and Kathrine Switzer) to scientists (like Marie Curie and Ada Lovelace) to artists (like Kara Walker and Georgia O’Keeffe). There are comedians, writers, activists, and journalists. I had a lot of help compiling the list, so I could reach beyond the scope of my own experience and blind spots, and I’m proud of the group that we ended up with. They all exemplify the drive to rise above circumstance and limitation and achieve greatness despite obstacles along the way.


How do readers tap into their ideas?

The prompts are meant to make you think, but I also give constant reminders that nothing has to be perfect or a masterpiece. It’s a workbook, not a gallery wall. The hope is that the reader can tap into their own method of working and find ways of getting their ideas down in a way that works for them. There are a lot of questions and prompts to help that happen.




What is your hope with this book ?

I hope for the reader to find connection with and inspiration from the stories in the book. I want the reader, through the prompts and activities, to own their own story and hold it in the same esteem as those of the other women in the pages. Hopefully that can help show how capable and badass each of us is.


What is next ?

 That’s a great question! I’m looking to help connect with organizations and movers-and-shakers in my community (Minneapolis/St. Paul) to see how we can lift up and connect with amazing people on a local level.


What age demo is this for ?

 Generally speaking, we aimed for “millenial age” and up. Hopefully, depending on the story or activity, younger folks can benefit from the workbook too.


I also get asked if this book is for men/male-identifying folks. The answer is YES! There’s no reason why a male wouldn’t be able to get inspired from these stories.


I love that Serena Williams is in the book. I get to work with this amazing women for her fashion shows for her fashion collection with HSN – she is someone to admire – so talented ! Why did you include her — I see you have a whole sports section ?

Serena Williams is amazing! She was a clear choice for looking into inspiring female athletes. I wanted to make sure that sports and athletics were reflected in the book, since there tends to be such a sharp drop of girls’ participation in sports around middle school or high school. I think making stories like Serena’s visible will help encourage girls to stick with what they love.


What is the drawing portrait part ?

Because many of the prompts ask the reader to draw people (often themselves), I wanted to give some basic tips on how to draw portraits and figures. Not everyone has had  formal art training, and some of us need a refresher on the basics! That way, folks can have someplace to start. But again, this workbook is meant to be somewhat messy, so imperfection is not only inevitable, it’s encouraged!


How did you choose what exercises to include in this book ?

I tried to think of open, accessible activities that could forge a connection between the preceding stories in the book with the capabilities and characteristics of the reader. I wanted to keep the questions open, but thought-provoking, so that the reader could address their own experience and their own strengths.


I like the term badassery you used – where is that from ?

Haha, thanks! I essentially just needed a noun to encompass badass-ness. Badassery was the most fun option. Spellcheck didn’t like it, but luckily my editors did!


Anyone in the book you hope to be our next President ?

Oh man, I don’t know. I know that Oprah has been getting a lot of press lately about potentially running. Obviously I’m curious about our next President, but I also love how the women in the book represent all the other important facets of society where we need strong leaders. So I’m not too concerned about these women being president. We need them where they are!


My favorite section was those that challenge body and beauty …. Why that section and who are some of those advocates and why is this so important

Oh yeah, that section is important, and we all struggle with it. We’re raised to have an extremely narrow definition of beauty and physical attractiveness, and I think women/femmes get fed the idea that that’s the most valuable part of themselves: their looks. Which is [pardon me] horseshit. There are millions of ways someone can be beautiful. And it’s not the only asset we have. I loved folks like Lizzo and Lindy West have started the conversation about body image and have shown how confidence looks in bodies that are a departure from the narrow vision of the past. Sometimes with confidence, you gotta see it to be it, and seeing someone who has a similar body shape, skin color, hair type, or style as you can help empower you to be comfortable in your skin.


What didn’t make it in the book that you wish you could focus on more

I just wish we could have had more pages for more babes! The size of the book turned out great for a workbook (who wants to carry around a dictionary-sized workbook?) but obviously we had to curate to cover the bases we wanted to cover. I would love to cover and learn more about contemporary women in science, politics, and activism.


Are there any writers / bloggers / activists that you didn’t include that you want to give shout outs to?

Too many to name! I find so many folks inspiring from nationally-recognized leaders to personal friends and local community members.

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