Hi Venus, could you tell us a bit about yourself and how you began illustrating?
My name is Venus Libido, I’m 25 years old, female, feminist and drawing dicks in blenders brings me great joy! I took to illustration the start of this year in an effort to just keep myself sane. Drawing has been a great outlet for me and a better way for me to express myself. I used to make sculptures focusing on the female gaze, but it seems drawing is a better way for me to communicate the messages I want to portray. These messages being things that have affected me over the years and that effect women on a daily basis such as sexual harassment, mental health issues, equality and being body positive.
A common theme throughout your work is mental health issues. Do you use your art to help yourself with those struggles?
Yeah, definitely. Drawing issues concerning mental health is really important to me. When I was living in London I really struggled with my mental health, I found it very hard to get the right help and there was an eight month waiting list I was put on. I had developed unhealthy patterns such as drinking excessive amounts and isolating myself from the world. So drawing became like my medicine, if I had a troubling thought or experienced something that made me feel shit then drawing helped me to better understand that feeling.
Do you still think there is a stigma surrounding women and mental health problems?
I think there is a lot of stigma around mental health as a whole, for all genders. As a generation I think its on the rise and from experience its something that isn’t understood by those who it doesn’t effect. People who don’t experience bad mental health on daily basis can sometimes misconceive how it really affects peoples lives. Its not about just feeling sad or down or upset and I think that people need to be more educated on the subject. My parents for example come from a generation where mental health wasn’t really a thing that people talked about. At first they thought I was just sad and told me to try make myself happy, then as they witnessed it first hand they realised its a lot more complex.
How do you want women to feel when looking at your art?
I want them to feel safe and confident. Safe in the sense that my work is a place for women to talk about their problems, whether this be in my comments section or even in my DM’s. I’m always happy to talk to people when they are feeling down or need someone to talk to. I love to give advice and comfort others. I also want to educate people on feeling empowered about situations they may find themselves in and help them realise they have a voice. I want them to know they are not alone in a world that feels like your always stepping out into a predatory environment.
"I want to educate people on feeling empowered about situations they may find themselves in and help them realise they have a voice. I want them to know they are not alone in a world that feels like your always stepping out into a predatory environment."
You portray real women with real body issues, which we love. Where did this stem from?
I'm just soooo tired of seeing the same models, the same body shape, the same look everywhere. I just want people to see that every shape, size and imperfection is beautiful. I like food, I like booze and that’s that. It would be a great world to live in if it were free of ‘THE MALE GAZE.’
How do you decide on each of your subjects?
Everything I draw is a depiction of my own life, the things I see or witness or experience. I use to draw a lot around how I was feeling on certain days, like scrubbing my face so hard it changes to someone else’s or having a guy whistle at me from a van and then me wanting to put his male ego (penis) in a blender. Although it’s getting a little harder now I’m in a better mind set and my mental health has improved, to think of the more sinister things to draw.
Your illustrations were featured in one of our favourite exhibitions 'I Didn’t Ask For This: A Lifetime Of Dick Pics' with Kidd Bell. How was that experience?
It was the first exhibition I was invited to be in since starting illustration. To be a part of something so important like standing up to sexual harassment was a dream come true for me. I dealt with a lot of sexual harassment while I was working in London and sometimes really serious stuff was happening that got brushed under the carpet. Girls being photographed in toilets through holes, men photographing me as I was bent over doing my work, men asking if I worked out because I looked so flexible up that ladder. There are endless stories, and endless accounts of harassment. The worst part of it for me was that my boss (a man) would just tell me to just ignore it! WELL NO MORE WILL I SIT BACK AND IGNORE IT! Also on a funny note, I sent the images to all the men I worked with that sexually harassed me.
If you could have your illustrations featured anywhere where would they be?
I really want to continue being invited into exhibitions around female empowerment or mental health. I also would love to work with charities and have my work feature in events or fundraising benefits. Maybe even being asked to draw for book covers would be pretty sick. I'm always reading books on feminism and thinking how my work would look great on the front of it.
If you could collaborate with anyone who would it be and why?
Oh god, there are so many amazing artists that I love at the moment in terms of illustrative work. I could name a whole list of people but I would love to continue working with Whitney Bell. I would also love to work on album covers for my favourite artist like Jorja Smith, I Am Tayla and Jadu Heart.
Do you have any upcoming projects we need to keep an eye out for?
I have a lot of small projects in the pipeline. I am focusing on getting work with companies that excite me and develop my drawing skills.
Whose work are you loving at the moment?
I'm really interested in all forms of artistic feminism so I’m really loving an American writer called Roxanne Gay and her book ‘Bad Feminist’ and I’m just starting another one of her books called ‘Hungry.’ Im really loving people like Polly Nor, Filthy Rat Bag, Laura Callaghan and Alex Jenkins. Oh, and I'm really into female comedians who address similar issues, my favourite being Sarah Pascoe.
As our new issue theme is Space, what is your favourite Space?
My favourite place to be in the whole world is anywhere with plants and greenery. I just love to be surrounded by them. I felt so low all the time when I lived in London, never having any open space to escape to. I grew up in the countryside, so not being able to reach the sea in less then 20 minutes, or going on a long wood walk really disorientated me. Oh and not having enough money to own a garden was a real heartache.
Finally, wheres the best place for our readers to keep up to date with your work?