Aurora Campbell is an artist based in Melbourne who’s work is heavily inspired by female experience. Covering topics such as body image, revenge porn and female sexuality, she hopes to re-frame how young women view their bodies and sex. Often touching on ‘taboo’ topics, Aurora’s uncensored drawings are real and thought provoking.
1. You’ve previously described your work as erotic, personal and raw. In an age where the topic of feminism is all the rage, why do you think so many people are still so uncomfortable with images like yours the depict sex and the human body to freely?
I’m sure we all have our reasons. We get hammered with such curated images of bodies by the media that honest and raw depictions are harder to digest- they are real, flawed, imperfect. People aren’t used to seeing the human body in its truer form, and it can be confronting compared to what we get fed by mainstream media. Then there’s of course the taboo of female sexuality – it’s threatening. We will accept the male expectations and sexualisation of the female body happily in advertising, no one bats an eyelid. As soon as it switches around and gets reclaimed, it becomes ‘confronting’.
2. Where does the inspiration for your work come from?
It changes a lot. It has been based on sexuality and technology for a while now, but I can feel it steering towards female empowerment and body image lately. When I was a bit younger and struggling with depersonalisation, my work really showed that. I drew a lot of intense, jaded and detached looking characters which were really embodiments of my mental health. My inspiration is usually a pretty direct response to whatever personal demons I am working through at the time.
3. Have you had any formal training or does your talent come quite naturally?
Yep, I studied Illustration at uni. It helped my technical skills a lot, but I felt totally restricted with my style and content. I was often discouraged for making my more challenging work. I still am not convinced that talent comes naturally. I have been crazy about drawing ever since I can remember, so I have had a lot of practice. I think if you are passionate enough about something to put in the hours and practice you will get somewhere. Maybe it’s a matter of having a little bit of natural talent to feel inspired enough to keep working hard and therefore obtaining skills through trial and error, or maybe it’s about being passionate enough to not give a fuck about being good or not and just working away until you get good. I still don’t know.
4. Your works have included everything from black and white sketches, all the way through to colour pop paintings. What’s been your favourite collection to date?
I don’t know! I have always felt so overwhelmed by mediums. I love them all. I suppose my black and white ink drawings have been my most extensive body so far, but my favourite little collection is a little series of gouache portraits I did of all my friend’s boobs. It was really fun and the paintings are so cute.
5. You recently did some work for feminist fashion and culture publication Polyesterzine. Can you tell us a bit about that piece and how you came to be part of that project?
I got in touch with them because I felt there was a link between their audience and my work. They put me in their illustrator database and contacted me about an article they needed editorial work for. The article was about how people are capitalising on social issues through merchandise and products – often with none of the profit going to the cause itself, but to street side vendors. It was actually a really challenging job for me to translate into a visual image! It was good though, it forced me to think outside my usual box.
And just for fun…
6. Where does your self-worth come from?
Being able to draw and make art.
7. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read or seen this week?
My friend was showing me videos of these parasites that climb inside spiders and basically mind control the host. They control the host’s behaviour by making it eat more/act in ways that provide a better home for the parasite to survive in. We watched videos of when the host gets killed and this awesome, terrifying worm (the parasite) emerges out of the body and wriggles off.
8. What do you think is the most important goal that every person should have?
I think to find a passion that doesn’t revolve around anyone else, that is all yours, which is only for you.
9. What’s the dumbest thing someone has ever talked you into?
Wagging school in high school to take Horny Goat Weed. We got caught for both those things and it was the most embarrassing conversation to have with your teachers and parents in one room at 14. The Horny Goat Weed didn’t even do anything either, tbh.
10. What was the most unsettling film you’ve seen?
I recently saw American Animals. For some reason it had me feeling the most tense I had felt in a film in a really long time.
You can find Aurora’s full body of work and more on her website.
Love our interviews with artists? Check out our interview with pole artist Kristy Sellars.