Priyanka Paul A.K.A Artwhoring

Priyanka talks to us about Feminism, graphic art, breaking norms and more!

We were scrolling through Instagram one fine Sunday evening over a cup of filter coffee and some masala vadas and we discovered India’s modern art feminist authority Priyanka Paul’s IG page Artwhoring.  She talks to us about Feminism, graphic art, breaking norms and more!

Q1. Tell us everything about ‘how it started’?

Priyanka: I’ve been drawing since I was a kid, but I never really took it seriously. Never considered it to be a ‘career option’. But when I chose humanities as my stream, after 10th grade, and joined St. Xavier’s I was introduced to a whole new world of ideas and concepts and learnt new subjects like sociology and political science which aren’t subjects that I was exposed to previously. And all of these are essentially human ideas and theories, and I found out that I could express myself really well through my art and poetry and that’s just what I do. I’m completely untrained, my only tool is my phone with a stylus. I’m also really passionate about issues of social justice and hence a lot of my work revolves around such themes. I mix a lot of poetry with my work and my art to me is basically a route to self-discovery.
Q2. What’s the inspiration for Artwhoring?
Priyanka: Oh, so Artwhoring was just a name that popped into my head but I find it relevant to my belief in feminism. Words like whore and slut are degrading towards sex workers, and that’s something that belittles their labour. Prostitution is the oldest profession in the world. It was practised in India, without the unnecessary stigma. It’s looked down upon and sex workers aren’t given the required government attention that they need because of our inclusion of western ideas of morality into our culture. Art as a career choice is also looked down upon often. Artwhoring to me signifies dignity in labour. I use the word because more than often words like ‘slut’ and ‘whore’ are not used to refer to the profession but to women who choose to not conform or dress promiscuously or have sex as much as men do. And as Albus Dumbledore said, “Fear of a name increases the fear of the thing itself.” And I truly believe fierce, non-conforming, bold women should be feared.
Q3. Is there a difference between Priyanka Paul and Artwhoring when it comes to personality?
Priyanka: A little bit. Priyanka Paul is a bit shy and makes the baddest of puns.
Q4.Tell us about the #Goddess series!
Priyanka: The goddess series was inspired by Harnidh Kaur’s poem ‘Pantheon’, so it featured poetry and spoke about the topic of female sexual liberation. Female sexuality is seen as taboo around the world, across cultures and religions. Oppression is universal. The series connected with people around the world, across different ages because it touched upon a number of subjects such as suppression of female sexuality, feminism as a theme of discussion on social media, body positivity, religious biases over women and was a fun interpretation of female empowerment. I also wrote down individual descriptions of the goddesses which connected to their actual religious and cultural relevance. For example:- Isis is the Egyptian goddess of health and wisdom. Modern day Isis, is a health and lifestyle blogger and is a fitness freak. She is against all kinds of body shaming and advocates self love. It also received a lot of trolling and flak on social media.
Q5. Any upcoming series you’re working upon?
Priyanka: I’m working on a zine that explores the different Indian states and aim at providing a new look into specific states and talk about issues that we don’t really talk about in the mainstream. I’m also working on more art that deals with period taboo. I also hope to create more work that deals with the issues of caste-something that we collectively seem to deny time and again.
Q6. Particular local or international artists that you love or take inspiration?
Priyanka: My favourite artists are Polly Nor, Laura Callaghan, Jasjyot Singh Hans, Alice Skinner, Montana Kutchling, Kruttika Susarla, Debangshu Moulik, Sarah Naqvi.
Q7. Where do you get your creativity inspo?
Priyanka: From everywhere honestly. Most of the times ideas just pop into my head. A lot of my work is pop culture inspired, I also take inspiration from all the people I meet and get to interact with. I’ve been in Bombay all my life, and Bombay is just such an amazing cultural hub, so I’m really just influenced by my surroundings. I love reading, so there’s a lot of inspiration that comes from books.I’m also currently studying media at St. Xavier’s and so a lot of what I learn, I inculcate into my art.
Q8. Are you a Feminist?
Priyanka: I quite definitely am a feminist. It actually makes me sad that there are people who don’t want to be associated to the term. Feminism to me is extending the boundaries of the social construct of gender and being aware of the liquidity of gender. It’s about the fight for equality, questioning the oppression of one gender for centuries, and it’s about choices, the ability to make choices- without constant censorship, without tampering with a woman’s right to self-authority.
Q9. Words of advice for upcoming graphic artists?
Priyanka: The best advice I’ve received is to not cater to an audience. A huge following and likes don’t mean a thing if what you’re creating isn’t coming directly from your creative and aesthetic senses. You have to feel strongly about what you’re conveying. Do what you want to. The right audience will find you. I’m a budding illustrator myself, I’m just 18! I’d just like to tell y’all to keep practising and to never feel disheartened. Art is rebellion, and rebellion’s never easy. Remain true to yourself and your art and always jot down ideas and practise!
Q10. Any #Norm you have broken lately?       
Priyanka: So many actually! I’m all about breaking norms. I was recently part of a photoshoot for Grazia which was themed ‘This is how a feminist looks’ and that broke the norms of how a feminist is supposed to look or basically how we expect women to dress up.
Also, I love myself, self-love is radical, breaks the norm of you know, self-deprecation.





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