We speak with 22-year-old creative chick Imogen Ivy about her art practice, how she ensures her subjects are comfortable during a nude photoshoot and where she finds the energy to keep up the good fight after having three of her Instagram accounts deleted.
Image: Imogen by Taylor Guthrie /@taylorguthrie
Describe yourself in three words…
Loud, colourful, passionate.
Tell us a little about the artwork that you’re producing.
My style has altered and changed over the years across all the mediums I use, but some of the main themes I focus on are body positivity/acceptance, self love, feminism, documentation, comedy and any emotionally driven story – whether it’s my own or somebody else’s.
I have diaries from 2010 full of rants, doodles, poetry, tears and (embarrassing) stories about my old high school crushes. I am so glad I kept them all. I have been going back and putting myself into that mind frame of younger me and creating art out of it, even if I don’t relate to that way of thinking anymore at all. I think you can learn so much from yourself if you go reflect on your past, whether it's in your head or with physical memories like a diary.
My art at the moment motifs are a mix of celebrating my past (bad days and good days), learning from all experiences/traumas that have happened in my personal life. Art has always been a massive outlet for me and nowadays more of a healing tool! Having a creative-dominant brain has been the most vital gift lil (fat) ole me could ever receive. It fires me up like nothing else also makes me feel so heard and understood all at the same time.
When did you first start getting into making art?
I’ve been making films and creating art (painting and photography) more seriously since I was about fifteen. As a kid, my family and I were always running around having paint fights and painting all over the walls/tables/driveway around the house. I am not from a ‘typical’ household or family and I absolutely cherish that.
I owe a lot to my parents. They raised my sisters and I to be free, fearless and intrepid. They also encouraged thinking out of the box and not to fall into ‘societal norms’ to just ‘fit in’.
Image: Imogen by Taylor Guthrie /@taylorguthrie
It’s fucked that Instagram keeps deleting your accounts. How do you find the energy to continue fighting against a platform that’s so hell bent on censoring its content?
It is very disheartening. More so when it all went down a few months ago compared to now but I definitely still get waves of it. It’s very understandable if people are like “it’s just an instagram account” and I get it. I do. but it was more than that to me.
Imagine for 4 years you build (from nothing) a café. Every day you work on it, you make it your own. Put blood, sweat, passion, A LOT of free hours and heart into it. Starts to buzz after years of hard work and one day you rock up to your café and its completely gone. No note. Nothing. No remains of it ever existing.
With my art account and back up accounts getting deleted it was yeah, fucking annoying and sad for me but when my personal account, full of memories of my life. Travel, my family, my pals, nice times of past relationships, literally myself and my life unfiltered and vulnerable – when that got deleted with not even an email… I was devastated.
I can’t get that content back unless they reactivate it. I took it personally at first, I felt my online presence wasn’t appreciative or respected by Instagram at all. The more I read up on other accounts getting deleted with themes of sexual empowerment, body normalisation, feminism - that’s when I realised it was a much bigger political problem... I’ll just say that.
There’s are SO many racist, homophobic, misogynistic, rude people online and then there’s me, a fat chick trying to raise awareness about body acceptance, self love, wellbeing and I get deleted? Weird, aye.
When you’re doing a nude photoshoot with someone, what measures do you take to ensure they’re comfortable?
There is no way to explain this without sounding super arrogant or up myself but I’ll give it a crack. Please bare with me.
Making someone comfortable is honestly something I don’t even notice I do. Often people tell me how they're instantly comfortable around me, whether I just started or finished a nude shoot with them or meet them in a drink line at the pub. I have been told numerous times that strangers feel like they know me or I understand them more than their friends do in five minutes.
I am probably the least judgemental person I know. Maybe I give off that vibe? I have always been a friendly person to strangers out and about and obviously my loved ones. I treat the Queen and the cleaner with the same level of respect.
In a nude shoot there’s a lot communication before and after the session with what’s going to happen so my clients aren’t in the dark ever. I sometimes put on there favourite album and always have a yarn with them before as they are more often than not, strangers at first. We exchange stories and get to know each other a little.
We watched a great Instagram story that you posted about reclaiming the word 'fat'. Tell us more about that.
The word ‘fat’ was an insult to me as a kid because that’s all I knew. The tone of the way people said it to me or the way I heard it in media was always negative and condescending. As a young chicka I just assumed it was a bad thing. The older I got, the more educated I became about why people associate the word “FAT” as a degrading comment - we've been programmed to think that. I am a proud Fat. I am a natural Fat. I don’t see it as an insult anymore, it's just how I identify myself.
We’re seeing the celebration of different kinds of bodies more and more often in media and advertising these days, which is great, but there’s still a lot of work to be done in reshaping society's expectations around the ‘ideal’ body type. In your opinion, where should we be focusing our efforts?
I believe the word ‘ideal’ in relation to the terminology around types of bodies should be removed. Scrap the word. I think media and advertising should focus on diversity – all shapes, sizes, colours; those with a disability, scarring, skin conditions or diseases. Be inclusive of all genders, all cultures and all people. Showcase a diverse range of people, equally and proudly across all media outlets.
Who or what inspires you most?
My dad’s work ethic, Helmut Newton’s timeless photography, Celeste Barber’s humour, Ryan McGingley’s moving photography, my close friends who are unapologetically themselves and my diaries.
How do you get yourself out of a creative slump?
Go for a drive in my car and chuck on a song, super loudly. Could be the saddest song ever written, most stupid or happiest. Just something that emotes. Go through my diaries. Anything to do with water – bath, nudie swim at night, shower, run around a hose lol.
The most important one is… listening. Listening to others' stories and experiences. Listening to your body and heart. Learning from your Uber driver or best friend. Ask questions. Be curious. Be patient.
What makes up your ideal weekend?
Hanging out with my besties, a coffee in the morning with my neighbour, swimming, doing nothing or doing a lot. It’s always changing and depends how little or big my week has been.
What advice do you have for other young artists who might not yet have the confidence to create or exhibit their work?
Rev up. Fire up. Be ruthless with your ideas. Be vulnerable. Be foolish. Find your voice and own it. Hustle, baby, hustle. Stay intrepid. Most importantly - fucking enjoy it and if you’re not, don’t do it. It is a tough gig but an amazing one if your perspective is right.
Finally, where can people find your work?
@imogenivyhatesinsta (back up account)