We recently met with Aussie illustrator and all around lovely human, Ailie Banks. Her work celebrates women and their beauty in all their many forms. Ailie is not only extremely talented, she is also the artist behind a series of new illustrations to help celebrate our latest Join the Queendom campaign, which was shot on location in the Blue Mountains of NSW, a.k.a. her home.
You’ve only recently moved back to the Blue Mountains. How was it being commissioned to create work inspired by your home?
It was incredibly serendipitous! I only recently moved back to the Blue Mountains after growing up here to embrace the quiet and focus on what I really need. This project for Bonds was just a wonderful way to pay tribute to this gorgeous place.
What or who else inspires you in life and your career?
I am forever inspired by the women around me. I always like to explore the relationship between feminine strength and vulnerability and the way they both intertwine. The women around me always lift me up so I like to channel that sentiment into my work. I also use my own experiences and sometimes the experiences of my friends to inform my creative narratives.
All your muses are female. Was that a conscious decision or just a natural thing for you?
They aren’t all necessarily ‘female’ but I think they all identify as women, yes. This is a conscious choice. I want my audience to feel empowered by their femininity and to see that femininity is whatever YOU want it to look like. It can be angry, it can be sad, it comes in all shapes and its defined by you and only you. I think for a long time women were expected to see themselves in the narratives of men and I’m just trying to shift that in my own way. We too often associate feminine traits with weakness regardless of what sex is presenting them. I think femininity is just as powerful as masculinity so I’m trying to challenge an outdated opinion.
What’s your process like?
My conceptual process is never ending, I have notebooks, open documents and apps where I constantly jot down ideas. Sometimes I look back on my notes and have no clue what I was trying to say, it’s pretty funny how nonsensical they are out of the context of my brain. Everyday there is a new experience, story or issue I can comment on. I often use my work as a tool to process personal feelings but sometimes it comes from an external experience or something a friend has discussed with me. I currently work digitally just because its a great medium for posting to a wide audience but I occasionally play around with things like clay and canvas for funzies.
You’re well-known for art that represents women and the world as it is right now in a very real way. Why do you think work like this is important?
I think representation in general is important in all sectors. I just make art that is a reflection of my experience in the world as a women and I think that’s why is resonates with others. People have described it as somewhat ‘political’ but really I just put body hair on my characters, because most women grow body hair, I discuss mental illness because I live with mental illness, I show my characters being multi dimensional because that’s reality. It’s only seen as something ‘new’ or ‘trending’ because we have only ever been fed such a limited idea of what womanhood is actually like.
You touch on many important themes - from the female experience and creativity to mental health. What’s your fave to explore at the moment?
At the moment I’m really into exploring anger and rage, just because they are emotions that women are often discouraged from showing externally but we all experience them. I am into the motivating factor behind these emotions and I’m having some fun exploring those themes right now.
What did you find interesting about working on the Join the Queendom campaign?
Well, I don’t know if you know this but the life of an illustrator is a pretty lonely one, so dealing with other humans was a nice change! I was introduced to a group of amazingly talented, professional women and having the opportunity to collaborate with them all was a dream. Usually it’s just me running the show and making all the decisions so It was great to have some external input!
It’s a pretty incredible job! Any words of wisdom for girls who might want to enter the art world?
Do it and do it now! The art world wants you and NEEDS you and your unique perspective. Don’t be afraid of people saying no to you or feeling like you’re not ‘good’ enough. Do it anyway and find an accessible platform to let your audience find you, whether it’s social media, galleries, YouTube or the streets of your suburb. There’s so much unavoidable criticism in the creative arts but if you believe in what you are doing just put it out there regardless. There’s no such thing as too much art.