[the following unabridged interview was conducted via email by writer Aaron Souppouris for The Verge, which very kindly ran an article about Problem Glyphs based on the (very extensive) answers below. so if you would like to know anything else about the problem glyphs process or materials, read on.]
Q. Firstly, let me say that I love what you and Elias are doing. When and why did you first start Problem Glyphs?
A. Eliza: Thanks very much! It’s so weird to be interviewed about this. I started doing problem glyphs on November 3rd at 9pm. Tumblr has a custom called “ask memes” where a user will solicit anonymous messages from their followers on a certain theme; favorite songs or colors, horrible secrets, and so on. I’m too private to ever participate in them, but that night, Tumblr user “bodyneutral” posted saying “go on anon and tell me a secret or something youre ashamed of.”, which Elias reblogged. I reblogged it from Elias, and added, “do this, except im going to draw you a sigil about your problem and you can use it to focus your horrible powers and destroy your enemies. this is the gauger bogwitch guarantee.” “Bogwitch” is sort of a long running injoke with my friends.
I don’t really know why I did it. I think I felt like I wanted to help, but drawing is the only thing I’m good at. Mythology and symbolism are the only things I’m fluent in. I hadn’t been drawing enough at the time, and felt like we could maybe help each other, the askers and I, by their prompting my drawings and my drawings prompting some sort of comfort. I hoped, anyway.
The first glyph, [I AM STANDING MY GROUND] (above), was published 12 minutes later. The problems kept coming in, and I just kept drawing.
Elias: Hi! Wow! Thank you! After Eliza starting publishing glyphs I began to appreciate more and more what she was trying to accomplish. She and I have a shared history and a shared lexicon of myth that gave the exercise a personal significance. They reassured me. I wanted to help. The idea of offering absolution or benisons to complete strangers made a lot of sense to me.
Eliza: In a lot of ways it actually seems easier than trying to heal your friends, and certainly easier than trying to fix yourself.