For our first interview we spoke to Ambivalently yours, an artist who focuses on building women up, speaking the truth about what is really going through our minds and reminding us that we aren’t alone, we are very much going through the same stuff. We love how she uses a romantic look using light pinks and simple drawings to create seriously strong messages. You go grrrl! ❤
Why did you start ‘Ambivalently yours’ and what inspired you artistically?
I first started Ambivalently Yours in 2012, when I was studying feminist art and working in the fashion industry, which seemed like a huge contradiction. At work, I was the feminist killjoy every time I raised a concern about the sexist undertones in our campaigns, and in art school I was the fashion girl who many assumed was duped by the patriarchy just because I liked cute clothes and girly colours. I felt caught somewhere in-between two worlds that I both loved and hated at times, in other words I felt ambivalent. Eventually, I decided to stop worrying about what others thought of me and embrace my contradictions. Ambivalently Yours became my fierce alter ego, giving me a way of exploring my feminist questions from this in-between place where things are undefined and pink can be powerful.
What is your artistic process when creating any of the pieces be it street art, online illustrations etc or is it the same for all?
Drawing has always been the easiest way for me to communicate with people, so when I have something important to say, I usually draw it. I often start a piece by playing around with words, and then I make drawings to go along with the text. Everything I do has feminist undertones and is inspired by my personal struggles and experiences. Many of my drawings are made in response to the messages and questions that people send me on Tumblr. So my work partially inspired by the stories of others, but of course there is always a little bit of my own life experience influencing everything that I do. It is a sort of collaboration between the people who write to me online and myself.
What is your favorite medium to work with overall and why?
I usually use cheap ballpoint pens, colour pencils, markers and watercolours. I’ve tried several different mediums, but for some reason these are the tools that allow me to get the results I’m the happiest with. Then I scan my drawings and clean them up and make them all the same shade of pink using Adobe Photoshop. I also use Photoshop to create the animated GIFs.
I like how you have kept your identity a secret but how you have summed up yourself in one phrase. I’m guessing this was done on purpose? If so why?
My online anonymity is a form of self-preservation and a way to let Ambivalently Yours becomes less of a reflection of my personal self and more of a representation of the ideas behind the work. In other words, Ambivalently Yours isn’t really me, she is my more daring and open alter ego.
Do you think if you had used your actual identity instead of being anonymous it would have changed the vibe of the project? Perhaps affecting the meaning?
As I mentioned above, my online anonymity is about self-preservation. When I began this project, I was mainly being critical of the fashion industry, which also employed me and gave me the wage I needed to live. I decided to make my work anonymous to ensure that my artistic work would not affect my ability to make a living. The Internet can be a volatile place and my work is always inspired by personal experiences, so I found that the only way I could be honest without making myself too vulnerable was to be anonymous. So to answer your question, I think that if I hadn’t started off as an anonymous artist, I would have self-censored myself too much and the work wouldn’t have been as honest and relatable.
Your project has really helped women feel connected, but has doing the project helped you?
Definitely. Having the opportunity to communicate online with other people about feminism and a wide range of messy human emotions has helped me realize that while my experiences are not universal, many of my struggles are relatable. This empathy and support has made me feel less alone, has helped me to deal with a lot of my own issues and has encouraged me to keep pushing my practice further.
What advice would you give to anyone who wants to create thought-provoking art, especially to do with subjects such as feminism?
Making art that causes people to think more critically is important, so if you have something to say, find a medium or a way to say it. It’s really terrifying at first, and you may make mistakes and people will call you on them, but a lot can come out of those small failures. What doesn’t kill you makes you a stronger feminist, and chances are you will find a lot of allies and empathy along the way.
Ambivalently Yours ❤