An Empathetic Writer After graduating with a double degree in English and studio art, Gabriela Gomez-Misserian ’21 took her talents to Garden & Gun Magazine.
“My classes at W&L helped me think more empathetically and carefully about language and history.”
~ Gabriela Gomez-Misserian ’21
Gabriela Gomez-Misserian ’21 may be living in South Carolina these days, but the Shenandoah Valley is not far from her heart. Or, far from her work — as seen in one of her recent articles for Garden & Gun Magazine: “An Insider’s Guide to Lexington, Virginia.”
Gomez-Misserian, who is the digital editorial producer at the renowned lifestyle magazine, has quickly established herself in the world of media. But when she was a senior — double majoring in English and studio art — she had no idea what her life would look like after graduation.
“All my friends in finance already had their jobs lined up by the time we started school senior year,” she said. “And we were still dealing with COVID, so things were very confusing. I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my degrees and wasn’t sure about the options.”
During her time at W&L, she spent a summer interning at a small children’s literary startup in Charleston, South Carolina. It was there that she established a contact who worked at the Charleston-based Garden & Gun and learned more about the magazine’s post-graduate internship program.
Founded in 2007, Garden & Gun focuses on all aspects of Southern life: food and drink, home and garden, arts and culture, travel, music, sporting activities and more. Content ranges from in-depth travel guides to thoughtful interviews with artists to playful photo contests.
As graduation approached, Gomez-Misserian was still unsure about her career path but decided to take a chance and apply for the internship at Garden & Gun. She scored an interview — and then received some help from the Office of Career and Professional Development.
“I get really nervous with interviews and talking to people,” she said. “They did a mock interview with me, and it was just what I needed.”
She landed the internship in September 2021, then secured a full-time job four months later. In her current role as digital editorial producer, she is responsible for managing the magazine’s story calendars—for both daily online content and for the bimonthly print issue. She also helps maintain the website and works with the marketing department on brand partnerships and collaborations.
Though her producer role keeps her busy, Gomez-Misserian also finds time to write about content she’s passionate about for Garden & Gun. She’s always down for a fun travel article—such as her guides to Lexington and Staunton, which were written for a Shenandoah Valley-specific newsletter and utilized her own photos.
But one of her favorite topics to cover is art — specifically, Southern art. She’s written about various Southern artists, including Ida Floreak, Thornton Dial and Lonnie Holley.
“Those were like some of my favorite stories because I feel like it was something G&G hadn’t had on the website before, and it is really important,” she said.
Her interest in Southern art developed in her college years, through coursework and conversations. In fact, while Gomez-Misserian was at W&L, Floreak visited the Lenfest Center for the Arts and held a tutorial with Gomez-Misserian’s drawing class.
“My Black literature class and my poverty classes also put a lot of things into perspective about these really rural areas, where artists are using things in their environment,” Gomez-Misserian said. “I think art, especially in the South, historically can be an inaccessible thing. My classes at W&L helped me think more empathetically and carefully about language and history.”
“I took so many courses that inform what I do now,” she continued. “So even if it seems like they may not have any place for what I’m writing about, I feel like these classes have made me a more informed writer.”
In addition to her 9-5 job in journalism, she also continues her artistic practice. Though some of her illustration work has been in Garden & Gun, she likes to keep the two separate. Instead, she creates original artwork and commissioned pieces through her own business, Misserian Art. Inspired by the tie between storytelling and visual art, her studio work “imbues daily life with whimsy, familiarity and warmth,” and embraces imperfection.
Gomez-Misserian notes her W&L art professors—among them Leigh Ann Beavers and Kathleen Olson—were invaluable to her creative journey. She credits the department for giving her the confidence to start her own professional practice.
“I took a drawing class with Professor Beavers, and she just was so supportive and so confident in me,” she said. “I hadn’t really had anyone like that before — someone that was seeing something that I wasn’t necessarily seeing in myself.”
And, of course, the setting didn’t hurt. “I don’t think I’ll ever have a studio that nice to work in again,” she laughed, remembering the beautiful art department classrooms.
From inspiring spaces to supportive professors to thought-provoking coursework, her time at W&L set a strong foundation for both her journalistic and artistic practices. Every year, she and her college friends make an effort to visit their old stomping grounds, hitting up spots from her own Lexington guide.
But if she only had an hour back in town, what would she do?
“That’s a hard question,” she said. “But probably Red Hen and Goshen Pass.”