Artist of the Month: Louise Pomeroy

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If you're the type to take your social commentary with a healthy dose of fetish wear, body mods and dark humour then Louise Pomeroy's clear-cut creations are just the thing for you. A queer focus with a remarkably straight hand, the London based Illustrator has gained clients from the XX to the New York Times. We got hold of Louise to find out what inspires her work.

Interview by: Rhiannon Thornton

Hi Louise, I'm wondering when you first became interested in illustration, and at what point did you realise you could make it your job?

I focussed on art at school, but it wasn't until I started an Art Foundation course that I really understood what being an illustrator meant. We got to try out loads of different creative paths and then choose which one we wanted to specialise in. I instantly loved the illustration process, being set a brief and communicating an idea through images. Its somewhere between graphic design and fine art.

Your accuracy with line is so striking, would you say your immaculate style is a good reflection of your personality?

Haha in a word, no. My girlfriend just said 'the only time I see you worry about details is when it comes to your work'... not sure if that's a compliment. I think my work kind of looks like me in the ideas and characters but the line is a lot neater than I am in general.

You often depict subjects and situations that are seen as quite taboo, is it ever a worry that the subject of your work would scare possible clients who are of a more prudish nature?

I keep my portfolio website pretty neutral because I want to appeal to a wide range of clients. My instagram features more of my personal work and I lost a job recently because someone was upset that I drew a dildo on Mike Pences face (lol). If I totally filtered out personal interests and my sense of humour, I wouldn't be enjoying myself. I just hope that people can see I'm capable of drawing pretty much anything. Just because I occasionally choose to draw a gimp mask, doesn't mean I can't draw a smiling corporate business executive too.

It seems common to see technical ability snubbed for impulsive work, in art schools. I can imagine being asked to draw with your opposite hand isn't your slice of cake, am I wrong?

We did a lot of loosening up and 'blind drawing' at my art school. I enjoy it and love looking at other peoples expressive mark making, but I just always come back to the style I have. I find technically accurate drawings really aesthetically pleasing, as long as there's an interesting twist to them.

Your work seems to largely celebrate hidden cultures with focus on fetishism and queerness, how much of this is a natural leaning for you and how much is a political or social agency? Do you enjoy the shock factor of your work for people who may not get it?

If I was able to purely focus on personal work it would be focussed on that. Most of it is a natural leaning, the queer theme is just part of my everyday life. I'm quite a curious person by nature so I often find myself in pockets of the internet reading forums of people sharing pictures and stories of (what some people might consider) bizarre fetishes. I do find the idea of shocking people quite funny but I also find it strange how easily people are shocked by human sexuality. It's always the most boring looking people who have the weirdest fetishes, I like the juxtaposition of mundane with bizarre in imagery.

I know you are a zealous comic fan (if you haven't read The Unfunnies, get on it!) what are some of your recent favourites?

I haven't, I'll check it out! I just bought Skim by Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamaki. It looks amazing. Otherwise I recently read Fun Home by Alison Bechdel, its autobiographical and about her childhood relationship with her closeted gay father.

What life lessons have you learnt since working full time as a freelancer?

I work on my own in a studio so to keep sane I listen to a lot of podcasts, make a lot of playlists and make sure I go outside and socialise regularly.

I feel like art which would be considered tame in comparison to yours, when still depicting queer lives can strike with such power. For me specifically your focus on sex toys is something that feels very combative against heteronormative sex, can you speak a bit about this?

Yeah I think sometimes just living your life openly and visibly can be political in a way, and the same goes for art. When I was a teenager I barely saw any lesbians on TV or film or in the art I was studying. I remember finding a book of photography by Catherine Opie in the university library and being blown away, her portraits of the LA leather dyke community circa 1990's look like they could have been taken today, but it was a totally different time. Combating heteronormativity isn't something I usually do intentionally, however if I'm living my life openly, a part of that is queer sex and I enjoy drawing scenes/ objects that represent that.

If you could have a chat with any artist who would it be?

Catherine Opie would be interesting, Phoebe Gloeckner, John Waters because I always find him hilarious.

What are you working on at the moment and have you got any exciting projects on the horizon?

I've designed some T-shirts for The Illustrated Mind in Brighton coming out soon. I'm not allowed to mention names of the most recent projects but one is a campaign against online trolling. Other than that I'm looking forward to concentrating on more personal work!

Keep up with Louise on her website or follow her on Instagram.