After months of releasing mostly male-centric editions, we’re taking the testosterone way down to focus on one of life’s most puzzling enigmas—Girls. Chapter 59’s recent release features some of our favorite female personalities, all of whom we believe embody the idea of ‘modern feminism’— in other words, women who do exactly what they want, how they want, and make no excuses for it.
But why stop at the book? We want to continue the celebration of women making an impact, so we’re introducing you a new segment: Femme of the Month, where we’ll be highlighting women who deserve the spotlight.
High school was a painful time. Any part of your life, for that matter, devoured by hormones and crushes can be especially painful to remember, where you find yourself closing your eyes so tight that your face will cave in and you think you might swallow your eyes. High school represents years spent crawling out of the skin you’re now starting to shed, with your childhood running away. Kids are being replaced with teenagers; these sexual deviants with a long list of characteristics reading like Santa’s naughty list: nicorette habits, eating drugs, and playing hooky with the person you once were.
All these awkward memories came flooding back after coming into contact with Polly Nor’s Instagram—a slideshow of nakedness at its core. Her body of work tackles the double edged sword of the human id—am I a bad person with good intentions, or a good person with a deviant side? And who can tell I’m lying? It’s this very reason why we love Polly—her illustrations force us to sit in self-reflection, and for just a moment, we start to think we matter and that our existence isn’t fundamentally trash. Then we remember that awkward hook-up in 9th grade.
It’s no question that we’ve chosen Polly Nor as our FRANK Femme of the Month. Apart from illustrating some of our inner demons, she also uses her work to hint at some of the designers and artists we look up to, like Supreme, Wu Tang, and Keith Haring. Take a look at the artist’s interview below, and the brilliant work that coincides.
Tell us a bit about yourself
I am 26 years old. I was born and raised in London.
How has your hometown played a part in your illustrations?
I have never really thought about that before. Well, a lot of my work has been influenced by conversations with girls that I have grown up with here in London. So I guess my environment will have subconsciously played some part in my illustrations. I’m also lucky enough to have grown up in a place like London with a decent art scene. There is always new stuff going on.
The major theme in your recent work is directed at ‘sexuality, instability, and relationships’ where there’s a woman partnered up with a devil—is the devil our partner or our reflection/id? Does the devil signify the hidden deviant behavior we see in ourselves or in our partners?
I enjoy using the devil characters to represent different ideas and narratives, so the role of the devil switches a lot. Generally, I intend them to be a figment of the female’s imagination; a devilish manifestation of her frustrations, desires and emotions. But I like to mix it up a bit sometimes, so they are also boyfriends, friends, or memories. Often people read into the relationships differently from me, but I like that. I want people to take what they want from the work.
Does everyone have deviant behavior?
Yes, I think we all have some deviant behavior in us. I hope so anyway.
How does social media and the internet play into the satirical work you do?
Social media definitely plays a big part in my work. I have always spent a very unhealthy amount of time on the Internet. My phone is full of screen shots of funny statuses and tweets that I want to remember when I’m drawing.
We also noticed the theme of hands, cacti, and lava lamps—anything symbolic there?
They in part represent sexual desire and frustration but I also enjoy drawing cactuses and lava lamps, objects that as a child I found very peculiar and mysterious. I hope they add a sense of nostalgia and excitement.
Who are some of the people you look up to?
Although it is not very original, as a child I was obsessed with Frida Kahlo and her very uncompromising representation of her private life and female experiences. Her paintings got me interested in art and definitely left a great impression on me. I have also always admired Yayoi Kusama and her use of repetition, which I think has influenced my work as well.
I also really like Jeff Jank. He does a lot of the Stones Throw cover art, the Quasimoto character, and MF Doom artwork. His stuff is really cool. And the moment I’m really in to Juno Calypso’s photography, Alaina Varrone’s embroidery and Nina Chanel’s paintings.
You just had your show ‘Sorry Grandma’—a well-aimed and poignant title—how did that go?
Ha thanks! Yeah it went really well. It was my first solo show and I had only ever really created work for the web so it was a totally new experience having people there seeing it in real life. It’s definitely something I’m going to do more often.
Have you ever shown your work in the US?
No, I’ve assisted on shows in NY but I haven’t had my own show out there yet. I’d really like to though if anybody wants to have me 😉
Do you have a favorite piece?
I like different things about each one. Visually I like the more recent ones with lots of color and detail like ‘It Never Happened.’ But I think I connect most with ‘Don’t Care What They Think,’ (the girl sat on the edge of her bed with the devil on her lap). The image actually makes me feel quite uncomfortable looking at it, it really reminds me of my awkward teenage years. Depression, sexual frustration, and days spent in alone in my room wallowing over my terrible boyfriends.
We found you on Instagram after seeing your piece “Cba 2 Pretend No More” show up multiple times on the explore page. Would you say “Cba 2 Pretend No More” is your most trending pic?
Ha yeah it’s definitely been my most trending pic. I’ve actually been having a bit of a social media nightmare with that one recently. Someone made a meme out of the illustration with ‘After a long day of being nice’ written over the top of it. This guy then posted the meme on facebook, which by the time I saw it had over 80,000 shares on just that one post. Then almost instantly it was all over Twitter and Instagram and on all those comedy accounts like Boywithnojob, Girlposts and 9gag.com, which of course would have been great if I had been credited – but I hadn’t.
But yeah, on the whole Instagram has been a very crucial tool in getting my work seen and coming across other artists. It’s just a shame people aren’t a little more conscientious about crediting when they are screen-shotting and regramming.
Define the current social media landscape in three words.
Entertaining, narcissistic, fictitious.
Would you ever consider illustrating a children’s book? Or any book for that matter…
Yes actually! I recently illustrated a teaching book for Bloomsbury Publishing, which was totally different from my usual work. Since then I have been thinking I’d really like to illustrate a picture book for adults and bad kids. I love Where The Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. It would be really cool to do something like that with all my devils and girls.
Lastly, what does the next year look like for you? Any new projects you’re working on that we should be on the lookout for?
I am currently setting up an online shop so I can start selling my prints. That’s the next big thing. I’m interested in developing some home furnishings and textiles too at some point. But I’m mainly just exited about spending more time in my studio and getting some new illustrations done.