Interview of Ambivalently Yours by Freya Bennett
As you know, we are huge fans of your art, and now it’s safe to say we are huge fans of your podcast– Rebelliously Tiny–where did this idea come from?
Thank you! I am huge fan of Ramona too! Especially since you were one of the first publications to support me when I was starting out, which means a lot.
When I decided to start a podcast, I had been answering the messages that people sent me on Tumblr with drawings for about five years. The process has been amazing but my work was also starting to feel isolating and a little overwhelming, since there were so many questions I felt I couldn’t answer properly on my own with my limited life experience as a white cis woman. I was starting to feel like I was letting people down, so I decided to start asking people for help answering these messages.
I had also been listening to podcasts at that time and fell in love with them as a medium for conversations. So despite my lack of any real technical experience, I decided to give podcasting a try. I then sent out a call for an intern to help me with this project, which is how I met Hannah McCasland, who I speak to in the first episode, and who became my co-producer. Hannah is a recent University graduate with a passion of social justice and media, who has been a huge help on this project.
Being an anonymous artist, did it feel strange to have your voice out there in the world?
The more I grow into my work as Ambivalently Yours, the less scary it is to share more personal parts of myself. For example, when I host live drawing events, I don’t hide behind a mask or try to protect my identity too much, because I feel like it would get in the way of meaningful interactions with others, or it could become too gimmicky which is not what I want. So I felt ready to share my voice in podcast form. I guess I’m still trying to figure out how exactly the anonymity works in my practice now, as I am slowly but surely getting braver about what I do.
I’ve listened to a few episodes and your podcast makes me feel like I am in a soft cocoon of loveliness, what was your aim with this project?
Yes, absolutely! I’m happy you felt that way! I started listening to podcasts a couple of years ago at a time when I was feeling a great deal of anxiety. There was something about listening to people talking in those soothing radio voices that felt really calming. It is that calm and comforting feeling that I wanted to recreate with Rebelliously Tiny.
My favourite episode is where you spoke to your mum, it’s really interesting to hear you felt like the emotional one of the family, how do you think that has influenced your art?
So much of my art is a celebration of emotions, which is a direct response to my family life. It’s not that I wasn’t allowed to feel emotions, but I often felt like I was the only one feeling things out loud, which made me feel like there was something wrong with me. The more I learned about feminism, the more I understood that sensitivity is related to weakness because it is associated to femininity, and in a patriarchal society anything feminine is seen as inferior. Once I understood that, I realized that feeling emotions could be a radical act of feminist defiance.
How can we all harness our emotions and put it into positive projects like you’re doing?
I think that the best art is the art that comes from a personal and honest place, but the tricky part is sharing that personal side without making yourself feel too vulnerable. It is important to find the right medium, the right audience, or the right collaborators. It can also be useful to start off by making art only for yourself. Then if it feels right later on, when things are less close to you and less raw, that is when you share it with the world.
When we feel overwhelmed, sometimes it’s hard to be creative. Do you have any tips?
This is something I have been struggling with a lot. I struggle with depression and anxiety, both of which often make me feel overwhelmed, and completely block my creativity. I realized that I have to start taking better care of myself if I ever want to be able to take care of anyone else. I decided that the summer of 2017 was going to be my summer of self-care and I started exercising more, eating better, reading more, sleeping more, drinking more water, and asking for help. It is a process, but it is important to remind yourself that you deserve the kind things you do for yourself. The kinder you are to yourself, the more the creative ideas will flow.
What are you hoping for in regards to Rebelliously Tiny?
Right now Hannah and I are trying to figure out how to fund our second season. We already have a lot of ideas for new episodes, but we just have to figure out the logistics of making it happen! It is the classic struggle of any creative endeavour!
How does your art and podcast intersect? And do you want them to intersect?
I see all of my work as one big practice with several little sub-projects and the podcast is an extension of what I have been doing online for years. In a nutshell my work aims to confront, comfort and encourage conversations. The drawing and the visual aspect of my work will always be important to me, but the conversation and interactions are what interest me the most, which is why the podcast was a great way to emphasize that more. Of all of my work, this is probably the most collaborative, which also made it the most terrifying, since it is a huge responsibility to edit the words of others. All of the guests on our podcast were so generous and insightful, and I feel really grateful that they trusted me with their words.
What is your favourite podcast?
There are too many to pick just one!
Here are my current top 5:
You can listen to Rebelliously Tiny here.[share]