Every Friday, BULLETT’s introducing our favorite Instagram profiles and getting to know the people behind the posts.
Venus Libido hopes to change the way society treats women, mental health, and women who struggle with their mental health, all by illustrating darkly poppy cartoons that depict her own difficult moments. A few years ago, the English-born artist sought help after struggling with anxiety and depression, but was placed on an eight-month long waiting list. Scared for her safety, she turned to illustration as an outlet for all her fucked up thoughts.
Having taken to illustration in an effort just to keep herself going, Libido says it’s surprisingly become the most connective medium she’s ever worked with. The 25-year-old artist studied sculpture in college, where she mostly made dildo-filled installations that pissed off her male lecturers. And while she explored similar subject matter then, she feels her drawings enable her to better communicate the supportive messages she wishes she could have seen in art growing up. So, she draws women with stretch marks, wrinkles and drinking problems––just like the rest of us. That’s part of what makes her work so appealing––the other part, how relatable the commentary. Looking at her Instagram, I don’t feel so bad about my own escapist tendencies and deceptive selfies. And that’s Libido’s goal––she draws from the darkness in her own life to make other people feel better about theirs.
Name: Venus Libido
Occupation: Sculpture Technician
Favorite Profiles to Follow: @shuturp, @filthyratbag, @mirandajillmillen, @florencegivenart
When did you start illustrating?
I only started illustrating this year. I felt inclined to illustrate things that I found pressing in my life, and that I realized were really affecting other women, and people with mental health issues.
What were those pressing issues?
I was working in London for three years within the arts, lots of different jobs. And I was constantly being sexually harassed, not to mention underpaid for the work I did. And mental health issues like anxiety and depression stemmed from there for me. So I’d had enough of putting up with it, and I decided to draw my problems.
What else inspires your work?
I grew up in quite a strong family. My mother’s really strong––she always taught me not to have my life dictated by a man, and to pursue the things I want to pursue in my life. I feel really inspired looking at other artists that are putting work out there. I never look at magazines and models.
Why do you place importance on depicting women with real features, like wrinkles and stretch marks?
I think a lot of people distance themselves from drawing the reality of things, which is sad because it really detaches us from what’s true. Women in art should portray everything about us, whether it’s our weaknesses or our strengths, and just not give a shit, because otherwise we’re going to keep being put down.
Was your sculpture work received differently from your illustrations?
My personal work was always being undermined by men. My tutors and all my lecturers all hated my work. They hated the fact that I was a complete feminist and I was making loads of penis sculptures and putting loads of dildos everywhere. They just disapproved of it because they’re 50 or 60 year-old-men in the wrong era. Illustration seems more present and people seem to relate to it a lot easier, because within conceptual art, especially sculpture, it’s very subjective.
Is that why you draw mostly women?
I want my work to portray that life is not easy for women, but we can look around and see that there are women and men fighting for us and our rights. I don’t hate men, I don’t think all men are assholes. But there are men that are. I don’t actually want to put dicks in a blender––it’s all about creating something lighthearted but still important for me.
How do you choose your subjects?
I look at myself, to be honest. I’m a short, stumpy woman. I’m not tall and gorgeous and thin. I’m really interested in other artists who draw women in a way that isn’t sexy or cute. I’m so addicted to looking at those images––I find it so empowering. It’s amazing that we can appreciate our bodies and what we look like nowadays. Younger and older women don’t need to look like what we see in the media.
What do you want people to take away from your work?
I hope they have a feeling of being more secure with their thoughts and feeling happier about the way they look. I wish there was someone like me, experiencing the things I was, and drawing it when I was going through hard times, so I could’ve known there was someone out there who understood.