Florence Given is a UK-based, feminist, designer and illustrator that has capture our admiration on instagram, under the name @florencegiven (not: “Florence givin’ art” as she recently clarified). You may also recognize Florence from her recent collab with Rita Ora! We had the luxury of interviewing this up-and-coming, powerful, artist about feminism, inspiration and reclamation of the word “frigid”.
MOTHERSHIP: Tell us how you came into feminism.
Florence Given: When I was fourteen I made the decision to stop wearing a bra (because they are just such a pain in the ass), I realised that everyone around me, mostly girls at my high school, would either stare or actually discuss the fact that you could see the shape of my nipple from my shirt. I realised that men didn’t experience this, even when they’re shirtless. I started googling about female nipples, and realised that the female body is heavily sexualised – at fourteen. It was something I grew to really care about, and free the nipple was my introduction into feminism, I think that it’s a good introduction for western women to start at the small wedge of the problems, if they’re perhaps less aware about issues that women face in the rest of the world. I have been on a mission to empower women since. I learned something new every single day.
MOTHERSHIP: How do you define feminism?
Florence Given: To believe and to be active in the equal treatment of men and women. In our attitudes towards women, how we pay them, in the way they are allowed to express themselves etc. Everything has to change. It can’t carry on being one thing for a man, and one thing for a woman.
MOTHERSHIP: Your art has a special sass and flavor, how did you find your style?
Florence Given: Thank you so much! I started drawing properly when I was 15 where I found a fashion illustration book that I became obsessed with. I developed my style through my exams until the age of 16 when I joined art school to do a diploma in fashion, which is where I really picked up my illustration skills. Looking back at just a year ago when I was 17, the quality of my drawings has seen a vast improvement – because it’s something I do every day religiously now.I never like to depict women looking vulnerable with bulging doll-eyes, I like to make them look like they’re in control. I am fed up with seeing women represented as passive/submissive objects in the media and in art.
“I never like to depict women looking vulnerable with bulging doll-eyes, I like to make them look like they’re in control.”
MOTHERSHIP: Do you write your own phrases and captions? The writing on your art is soooo concise and to the point. We love it!
Florence Given: Oh god yeah, I write everything myself. It takes me so long to write a caption because I have so much to say I often find myself condensing it. The punchy phrases that I put into my drawings can come to me in an instant, or it could take weeks. But everything comes from me, I like to sound exactly how I sound in person, to keep everything original and personal to me. People like a voice that says it as it is.
MOTHERSHIP: What/who inspires you?
Florence Given: Women. I fucking LOVE women. I think they are incredible. A lot of the time I’m not even inspired by illustrators at all, it’s mainly photographers. I have a tonne of female-erotic fashion photography books which I usually go to for inspiration in my drawings, like Ellen Von Unwerth and Bettina Rheims. Women who are so confident in their own skin, women who are entrepreneurs, women who stand up for the things they believe in, are the epitome of beauty to me. I try to capture confidence in my drawings at all times. I want my followers to feel inspired by the women I draw and relate to them.
MOTHERSHIP: Do you think your feminism with translate into your fashion – has it already?
Florence Given: Of course! Empowering women and feminism is right at the core of my values, so yeah it’s shown up in pretty much everything I do. For my last term on my fashion styling degree I produced and printed a zine called ‘Frigid’ which consisted of styled self-portraits of myself, inspired by all of my favourite photographers! I had it for sale on my store but it’s all sold out now. I have been called frigid so many times before going through my teens because I would ‘put out’ for guys. This zine was my way of claiming back that awful and petty word and making it into something beautiful that I could be proud of.
MOTHERSHIP: What’s next for you?
Florence Given: T-SHIRTS! I have always wanted to create my own line of beautiful t-shirts with my own art on them. I am picking up my old love for typography and working on that to create some beautiful slogan pieces too. I will also be curating another art exhibition over the summer too as part two of Girls, Uninterrupted (the last show I curated).
We can’t wait to see what is next from this talented artist!
by Laura Wise