#WCW - Ailie Banks
It’s your favourite time of the week again (don’t @ me if it’s not). This week we’re talking to a girl I’ve been legit stalking on the gram for a while now. Will she take out an AVO against me? Maybe. But in the meantime enjoy this little chat we had and then go and check out her awesome art - she’s amazing and we adore how she depicts womanhood, mental health and all the mess in between. Also, I hate mangoes too.
- So, give us the 25 words or less version of you
My name is Ailie, I’m an Illustrator from Australia. I draw women and femme identifying folk, I use a lot of pink and I live with mental illness.
- One of the reasons your insta is one of my favourite places on the internet, aside from all the pink, is how open you are about your mental health. It's inspiring and challenging at times - what made you decide to share in that way on that platform?
Well, my mental illness is derived from childhood trauma so I've lived with the symptoms most of my life. However before I sought a formal diagnosis I would try to hide what I was experiencing and carried a lot of shame and internalised stigma about what is meant to be 'mentally ill'. Once I received a diagnosis in my mid twenties I starting working with a therapist and began to realise the shame I was carrying was in fact making issues worse for me. I was really invested in my mental health and saw it was only logical for me to alleviate some of that shame if I wanted to work on recovery. The reason I decided to speak openly about my experiences with my mental health was because I didn't want to live a double life. My instagram is a personal space but it's also the modern day art portfolio where clients are often finding me and one of the issues I had in more 'mainstream' employment was that I usually had to hide my symptoms in order to be seen as competent. Since my illustration work has allowed me to become self employed it was really important I didn't carry that same mentality into the job where I was the boss. I also thought it was important I didn't gloss over the realities of my life to seem more 'flawless' on social media, I don't judge anyone who decides to keep their condition private but for me it made me more comfortable disclosing. Being open about my mental health has also opened the doors for others to feel like its okay for them to do the same and also that success and mental illness don't have to be mutually exclusive. I could go one for hours about why we need to open up the dialogue about mental health, but that's just a snippet of why I talk about it.
- Your work shows so many unique expressions of womanhood - where on earth do you come up with them all?
Well I always describe my work as being both extremely personal and universal at the same time. The majority of my illos are usually my way of working through emotions or experiences but I also have an understanding that they may be relatable to others also. I spend a lot of time reading and listening to other people talking about their experiences in the world and spend a lot of my time reflecting on my own experience and kinda try to merge the two to inform my conceptual practice. I have realised that we all have a lot more in common than we think and a feeling of connection is always important for me when drawing. But with saying that sometimes I just need to get an idea out of my head so I draw it.
- Can you tell us a little bit about your enduring love of pink?
My love of pink is actually just pure rebellion. I always found pink fascinating because of all it represents, the way it has been deemed 'feminine' soft, girly, silly, unthreatening. So when I was studying I had a lot of male teachers that, while they were great teachers, would always push me to move away from that colour palette probably because of what pink represented for them. Naturally I assumed they knew best so I stopped using it constantly but then came out of school with a portfolio that was more them than it was me. So after I graduated I just went back to making what I wanted to make, and the rest is history.
- And what about the importance of art as therapy?
When I was a kid I didn't have the language to discuss what I was feeling or going through so I often found other outlets to express myself. Art has always been an amazing tool to help me process situations or feelings I'm struggling with, so for me it has been extremely important. I think that human creativity has an ability to transcend the barriers of language and we should never under-estimate that.
- BOOK DEAL! Congratulations - having worked in publishing for a lot years I know exactly the kind of years of sweat and tears that go into that. What can we look forward to?
YES! It's a huge huge deal and I’m so grateful but also very exhausted. The book is a series of new illustrations and writings and will be released mid 2019 so stay tuned to my insta @ailiebanks for all the updates!
- What's one thing your insta family might not know about you?
That my name is pronounced 'Ay-lee' like Hayley but without the H and I hate mangos *loses 10k followers*