Often, the art world is filled with patriarchal paragons, rigid concepts, and repetitive storylines. However, artist and creator Arevik d'Or is breaking and shifting this paradigm by shedding light on social issues and taboos from both a humorous and feminist viewpoint.
This Belgium-based freelance illustrator, animator, and animation film director's work has been featured in The New York Times, De Standaard, and Times Square. Her work is engaging, humorous, insightful, and, while witty, it's keenly socially aware and sometimes pokes fun at feminist tropes.
So, in this often stubborn world of art, it's refreshing to find an artist who's willing to make a statement about what she believes in, and Arevik d'Or sees a world filled with self-confidence, independence, and self-acceptance. We spoke with the artist about where she began, how she developed her style and aesthetic, and what inspires her.
Can you break down your creative journey thus far? How did it begin, and where would you describe it now?
Everything began with my first animation experiment with a woman whose breasts dance up and down. It was just a simple idea, but it made me laugh a lot. This trial opened my eyes. I saw how a female body could express freedom and joy as a result of renewed self-awareness. So my illustrations are a kind of collected notes of how I try to get a grip on what I observe, and in my case, that is mainly female identity. What fascinates me is how women live in detail. This refinement is in stark contrast to the sturdy, bony bodies of the women I draw. That is an intuitive choice: through the voluminous, the fragile, the small, the fine is much more expressed.
You often create illustrations that touch on taboo topics such as female nudity and masturbation. Can you speak more about the reason why you began creating these?
I grew up in a conservative, patriarchal society, where female freedom and pleasure are pushed away and dominated by social rules and obligations. For me, those were frozen formulas which I've questioned a lot to understand how we can improve female happiness. Nudity plays an important role in this: it is an expression of self-confidence, independence, and self-acceptance. Masturbation is the sexual equivalent of this. I would be happy if my illustrations could inspire women to experiment and be aware of their sexuality from an early age.
What is your favorite illustration you've created and why?
My most successful and favorite series is ANNAtomy, about the three women An, Ann, and Anna. The concept grew out of my fascination for "the three graces," a classic theme in art history. What charms me is the solidarity between women. Competition is old-fashioned. Only by working together will we be able, as women, to eliminate stereotypes.
While your illustrations are different in concept or theme, they all consistently stick to the same aesthetic. How did you come to develop your style?
I try to keep my images simple and linear to avoid overwhelming content. With less redundancy, the detail comes out better. Meanwhile, I'm freeing myself from perfectionism. That is my approach for my personal projects, but when I work on commissions, I adapt to what the text or the assignment demands.
What or who is your biggest inspiration?
If I have to mention one name, I think of Saul Steinberg. His work is twofold: it is near and easily accessible, but at the same time, it is also extremely high-leveled and sophisticated. He is the kind of hero who came off his pedestal. I also see the influence of his work in contemporary illustrations. His work keeps multiplying incessantly, as it were, so universal is his oeuvre.
Aside from experimenting with different techniques such as sculpture, textile design, mosaic, and ceramic, what else do you enjoy doing?
I am fascinated by vintage furniture. That is not directly related to my work as an illustrator or animator, but the combination of functionality and aesthetics and the interaction of an object in space fascinates me. What I also find extraordinary is how furniture is a mirror of the zeitgeist. In a search for the right seat, one travels through the history of humanity and art. Sooner or later, I would like to learn how to upholster canapés and armchairs.