Laura Wilson is a recent graduate who runs a collaborative creative blog and illustrates for online feminist magazine Bitchtopia. She has a deep interest in neo-Paganism and ancient symbols of the divine feminine. Fortuna was inspired by the use of tarot cards for divination, and the Pagan triple Goddess of the Moon. ‘I wanted to depict the ways in which opening our minds to mystery can enhance our souls and enable us to embrace a fuller spiritual life. As a feminist, womanhood and matriarchal ideas have a big influence on my life and my art.’
Where did you source the imagery used in Fortuna, and what inspired your choice of what to include?
I was inspired by divination, particularly tarot cards, and had a look through my own deck for some ideas. The artwork on tarot cards is always so beautiful, even if you don’t believe they hold any kind of power, they’re still a gorgeous collector’s item. I wanted to illustrate the idea of divination opening a person’s ‘third eye’ to the possibility of magic, and allowing them to access their spiritual intuition. I was also inspired by images of Hindu deities such as Vishnu and Kali, which prompted the many-armed character.
How do you create your illustrations? What processes do you use?
I like to use both traditional and digital methods in my work – for Fortuna, I started with an ink and watercolour painting, which I then added more colour to digitally. I tend to use a lot of pencil, inks and watercolours in most of my illustrations, but recently have been pushing myself to create more work just digitally, as it can be a lost less time consuming! I think I’m still in a phase of experimentation with my art; I haven’t found the process that works best for me yet, so I’m still trying out new things and finding my feet.
You describe yourself as a Neo-Pagan, how would you define this?
I’m not sure if I would really call myself a Neo-Pagan, but I am definitely very interested in and inspired by the culture of Paganism. It was something that I was very involved in for a while, but over time I’ve moved away from believing in one thing and I’m now in a state of just being very open to the possibilities of spirituality while at the same time being aware that we can’t really be sure of much in this world. That’s one of the things I admire most about Paganism; it acknowledges the mystery and mysticism of the universe and never tries to claim that it has the one right way of thinking; Paganism accepts all beliefs and understands that there’s no single right path through life. Generally speaking, it just believes in the importance of Nature and our ties to the earth, and that everything in the universe is connected.
What do you most like to illustrate and why?
One thing that shows up a lot in my work is mermaids; I think of them as sort of my creative muse. I’ve always loved the idea of these beautiful, terrifying creatures, who can be so alluring but use their appeal to cause shipwrecks and drown sailors. The femme fatale is a very interesting concept to me. I also tend to work with fashion illustration; but in a way that is body positive and inclusive. I think that fashion has got stuck in this rut of only representing this tiny demographic of skinny white people, when that doesn’t accurately represent society at all. I want to push for more diversity in fashion illustration, and depict more variety in body shapes and sizes, skin colours, disabilities and people outside of the gender binary.
As a recent graduate of illustration what is the biggest thing you have learnt since leaving university?
That you have to keep pushing yourself to create new work and keep looking for opportunities. And that you have to force yourself to make time for art! It’s been a bit of a shock suddenly being away from art school and not having the support of my tutors and classmates anymore, and having to fit creating work around a job. But I’m very lucky to live with two of my ex classmates, and share a studio together, which helps keep me motivated. The three of us also run a blog together, theonethreethree.com, to keep us creating new work every week.
What kind of work do you contribute to Bitchtopia?
Bitchtopia is an awesome feminist culture magazine which covers current events, art, music, fashion… and loads more. It’s written by an amazing community of women from around the globe, and I’m really honoured to be a part of it. I create feminist artwork for them to post, as well as illustrations to go alongside their articles, and have recently designed some prints for them which will be going up for sale in their store.
What are your hopes for the future?
I’m looking forward to hopefully more collaboration with Bitchtopia and other feminist collectives, as well as working on some personal projects. I’ve also been meaning to create a zine for a while, so will hopefully get that moving forward soon – it will be a visual mash-up of feminist fashion illustration, alternative culture and Neo-Paganism.
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