Interview by Sofia Konstantopoulou
Fotini Tikkou: We talked to the illustrator who captures ideas of art and feminism in a way that made us want to start sketching ourselves. The body can be much more than a field of objectification.
#Genderviews, Genderhood’s column with views on free gender expression, reveals Fotini Tikkou’s take on painting daringly.
They call you “the feminist illustrator of Greece”. What is it that makes an illustrator a feminist? How do you feel about this label?
This “label” is not something I ever sought to be honest. I believe most of us need to categorize others because it makes it easier to understand the reality around us. This often ends up being problematic of course. In this particular case, the label honors me and gives me great satisfaction, both because I declare myself a proud feminist and because people have come to this conclusion about me solely through my work and this is a success for any artist who is essentially expressing and passing on his/her own messages and concerns through their art. So basically I don’t know if we can talk about a feminist illustrator, but a feminist who happens to be an illustrator. Feminism is a socio-political position, a way of life that permeates all aspects of your existence, so inevitably it will show up in your work. Especially when it comes to art.
You have stated that you love illustrators and especially those who pass on messages of female empowerment. What makes you so passionate about this type of art?
I love and support women consciously because it is important to me. I prefer to collaborate, promote and help women because I believe it is necessary to have a cohesion and solidarity among us, which will help all of us to reach our goals collectively. I am moved when women artists use their art to raise their voices against issues of gender inequality, and I admire self-made women who set up their businesses alone or with other women and use their platforms to claim their space and promote the idea that a woman can achieve anything she wants without being limited by her gender.
You started your Instagram account in 2016, after the birth of your daughter. In the midst of postpartum depression, what made you as a woman-mother-creator want to enter the world of social media and speak out about women’s issues?
This period was definitely the most challenging of my life. Motherhood has a frightening ability to dismantle your self-determination and consequently your identity as a woman and as a human being. I think it was this that made it imperative to regroup and build a new identity through my art by incorporating the status of motherhood into it but without it overshadowing the other qualities I had until then as a woman. I needed to rediscover myself and share this journey. Through this process and by talking openly about my own experience, I work to shed light on the huge issue of motherhood which is characterized by so much guilt and so many stereotypes. And thus help other women around me who were going through something similar to myself.
“"Through the female body I symbolize beauty, strength, diversity and at the same time I try to eliminate from it the hypersexuality and objectification that it has suffered over time."
What would you say to a young designer to encourage them to publish their own creations?
I would suggest that they focus on their artistic “journey” and not on their social media image. Social media is a means of promoting our work and not an end in itself. They should be honest with themselves and not be afraid to promote their art even if it annoys or displeases some people. Not everyone will always like you and that’s okay. Once you accept the idea that it’s impossible to please everyone, then and only then will you allow your true self to create freely and build an audience that will follow and support you for who you really are.
Πώς πιστεύεις ότι ενωμένες οι θηλυκότητες μπορούν να κάνουν τα Π-Α-Ν-Τ-Α;
Πιστεύω πως οι πολλοί είναι πάντα πιο δυνατοί από τον έναν και για αυτόν τον λόγο πιστεύω πως ενωμένες θα καταφέρουμε πιο εύκολα να φτάσουμε στους στόχους μας. Σαν θηλυκότητες οφείλουμε να είμαστε ενωμένες και να στηρίζουμε η μία την άλλη σε έναν κοινό αγώνα ενάντια σε οποιαδήποτε μορφή καταπίεσης που βιώνουμε λόγω του φύλου μας γιατί έτσι θα είμαστε πιο ισχυρές.
Τι θα έλεγες σε ένα νέο άτομο που σχεδιάζει για να το ενθαρρύνεις να δημοσιεύει τις δικές του δημιουργίες;
Θα του πρότεινα να δώσει βάση στο καλλιτεχνικό του «ταξίδι» και όχι στην εικόνα του μέσα από τα social media. Τα social media είναι ένα μέσο προώθησης της δουλειάς μας κι όχι αυτοσκοπός. Να είναι ειλικρινής με τον εαυτό του και να μην φοβάται να προβάλλει την τέχνη του ακόμα κι αν αυτή ενοχλεί ή δυσαρεστεί κάποιους. Ποτέ δεν θα αρέσεις σε όλους κι αυτό είναι οκ. Μόλις αποδεχτείς την ιδέα ότι είναι αδύνατον να ικανοποιήσεις τους πάντες, τότε μόνο θα επιτρέψεις στον πραγματικό σου εαυτό να δημιουργήσει ελεύθερα και να χτίσεις ένα κοινό που θα σε ακολουθεί και θα σε στηρίζει για αυτό που πραγματικά είσαι.