Get To Know: Venus Libido
We first saw the work of Venus Libido at a recent exhibition entitled Girls, Uninterrupted, where her super honest, often laugh-out-loud-funny work caught our beady little eyes. In her illustrations, Venus has created space for herself to be both self-appreciative and self-deprecating in equal measure. She treads a line between tongue-in-cheek cartoon and super-vulnerable confessional, using her drawings to work through issues with anxiety depression, body image and, ya know, just being a human being trying to make her way through the world. We caught up with Venus to talk inspiration, community, and the effect self-portraiture has had on the way she sees herself.
Hi Venus! Okay, first things first - how would you describe your work?
I would describe it as funny, honest, personal and relatable. I don’t sugar coat anything.
What drives you to make that kind of work?
Everything I draw is a reflection of my own personal experiences or my own darkly weird thoughts. Venus Libido started because I needed a form of release. All my work is about my own experiences as a woman. This can vary from my experiences of sexual harassment to my mental health to my path to body positivity. I started to draw everything that bothered me, or that I just needed to get out of my head - things like being exploited in my career and being paid less than my male counterparts, or being told I’m not capable of doing a job because I’m a woman. It’s made it easier for me to better understand the things I was feeling or thinking and to make light of them. I want to portray all the things that I use to be scared or worried about sharing and just be like fuck it - here it is, world! It’s time that we start talking.
We really admire that you’re taking the time to work through your own experiences and to share a version of them with the world. Are you able to work as an artist full-time right now?
I wish I could do Venus full time. I work part-time as a sculpture technician at an arts University which I really enjoy. I’ve always loved working in 3D and I have a degree in sculpture so that’s kind of why, on my days off, I started the dick candles and the phallic pendants.
Who, if anyone, do you count as influential over your style or your artistic sensibilities?
To be honest my style just came from a year of practice and slowly figuring out what worked for me. I have always loved this not-so-perfect way of drawing so someone like Filthyratbag was an inspiration from the start. I really love her honesty and dark sense of humour, which is something I really relate to. It’s taking something that really fucks you off and making it into something that allows you to put your middle finger up to it.
Have you been able to meet other artists like Filthyratbag through your own work? How helpful is it to be able to reach out to like-minded people for mentorship and support?
I think its been really helpful for me to be apart of a community on Instagram that consists of some amazing people. I have a lot of women who I would now call my friends that I've met through social media. It’s amazing to be able to have engaging conversations with like-minded women and to be able to share our interests and keep a positive energy flowing. I think it’s very important though to be engaging with people who are going to be supportive of you and delete the negativity.
I saw your work at a recent exhibition and ended up talking with my friends afterwards about how we might draw our own bodies. What effect has drawing your own body had on your relationship with your physical self?
Drawing myself has really made me take a step back and look at myself in a different light. I'm finally confident with the way I look and I’m happy to share it and draw and to embrace it. I feel so beautiful which has taken me nearly 26 years to achieve. Its very therapeutic and I really recommend it to everyone.
QUICK FIRE ROUND
The greatest asset to the UK art industry right now is… Young people working their asses off.
The greatest hindrance to the UK art industry right now is… exploitation.
Favourite podcast? The Guilty Feminist
Pen or pencil? Pen
Twitter or Instagram? Instagram
Favourite snack? Ready salted crisps
Cats or dogs? DOGSSSS always and forever but I do love cats also.
Top illustration: Venus Libido, 'Medusa'