Written by Sophie Wyatt
Venus Libido is the 27-year-old artist challenging the patriarchy with her bold, truthful artwork. Her work expresses her own thoughts in a way that is self-confessional whilst at the same time allowing so many women (and men) to enjoy and relate to it. We got the chance to ask Venus about her work, her inspiration and what feminism means to her.
Venus Libido’s work is strong and vibrant to say the least. Her brilliant feminist art takes a unique take on modern-day women’s everyday problems and thoughts. She explained to us how it started for her and how her mental health influenced her decision to create art.
‘So it started at the beginning of 2017. I was living in London and I had really bad mental health problems, and I decided to move out of London back home with my parents in South Hampton and I was really struggling with trying to fill my time in the day and figure out what to do with myself. So I started drawing one day about all the things that were in my mind basically, and my partner said maybe you should share these, because they’re quite interesting and they’re helping you so they might help other people. I hand draw everything first. I did that from the beginning and I still do that now. I just find it easier for me to draw it on paper first and then scan it in. Then I can edit it digitally and colour it as well.
I find it really hard to talk or articulate my feelings verbally, so I found it much easier to draw the things I was feeling. So it was mainly around mental health, or the way I was treated as a woman in the workplace, which was a really big factor as to why my mental health deteriorated so quickly, because of sexual harassment and things like that and being underpaid as a woman.’
The modern and free-willed art that Venus Libido produces definitely stands out, and you only have to look at the comments on her Instagram posts to see how much the drawings inspire and encourage people to embrace themselves and the world around them. However, like every artist, she has had her fair share of negative responses to her work. She explained that especially with her genitalia sculptures, some people really liked it and some found it offensive, and went on to describe her work like marmite.
‘I think at the beginning I kind of just posted whatever I wanted, but now I realise that certain things that I was drawing would upset a certain category of people, especially when it came to drawing penis related art. That’s always difficult because of Instagram guidelines. So I do find that really hard when it comes to deciding what to draw and what I do put out to the world and what I keep to myself.’
Venus also explained the extent to which social media has helped with her success. Although social media creates a platform for artists, there is a lot of negative content which plays a big part in many people’s mental health issues. Venus also discussed the opportunity for progression within these social media apps.
‘I think social media is the only reason that I am as big as I am. I did it for a couple of years without it with my sculptural work, and I didn’t get the recognition that I do now. Because it’s harder to put your work out there and get into galleries, it’s harder to get noticed, especially as a female artist. So Instagram does play a huge part in meeting people and getting companies to see you and your work. It is a big factor.
I mean obviously there is a lot of content that doesn’t represent all women of all shapes and sizes and races and sexualities and everything else. But I think that over the last couple of years it has become very progressive. I guess it depends on who you choose to follow and what you choose to follow. I mean, I only follow people who draw women of all shapes and sizes, and are empowering everybody not just a certain type of person or shape. But I think that it is getting better. More than anything I think that you just need to promote that everybody is beautiful, and that it doesn’t matter if you make changes to your body, or you don’t make changes to your body, we should just be accepting of everything.’
Venus’ work exudes feminism in it’s visual celebration of not only equality within genders, sexualities and races, but also female empowerment. So we asked her to define what feminism means to her.
‘I always find this question really funny because, to me, it changes every day. Narrowing it down does just mean empowering everybody, you know. It’s not just about women, it’s about men, it’s about non-binary people, it’s about everybody. It’s about making everyone feel safe and comfortable and happy within their own skin.’
You can check out more of Venus Libido’s work at https://www.instagram.com/venuslibido/.