Combatting Stigmas Through the Power of Drawing | Anti-Standard #10 with Love Not Hate Illustrations

For Anti-Standard number ten, I interviewed Libby Ford, who is behind the positivity-spreading Instagram account: Love Not Hate Illustrations!

The 23-year-old South Wales-based Illustrator creates cartoons who you’d absolutely want to be your best friends, and even better they all come with a powerful message attached.

“Art is expression. Art brings emotion to life. Art is therapy. Art saved my life and no matter what happens with my illustrations I will be forever grateful for that.”

T&P: What was the first time you realized you could use art to not only satisfy your creative needs but to spread positivity to thousands of people?

LIBBY: I actually had a meet up with a mutual follower on both Instagram and Twitter and we were talking over coffee and she said that with my talent in words and artwork I could make a real career from using social media to reach people and educate and help people. I didn’t really give it a second thought, thinking I wasn’t good enough. But then February this year I was admitted to a psychiatric ward and I bought a stylus pen and started to draw my emotions as a way of coping. I was struggling a lot with nightmares, flashbacks and trauma-related anxiety and so this coping mechanism really helped me. I decided to post a few of them online and people like them, and so I decided to turn my account from personal to business and placed my first order for traffic light badges (see attached photo) and it’s grown from there. 

T&P: What is your usual driving force for creating a piece of work? 

LIBBY: Usually the thing that drives me the most to make artwork are things in my own personal life. If I’m having a bad day with my eating disorder I will create a piece of art that represents that. This piece of artwork is just one example. (see attached photo). If I see something that upsets or angers me instead of letting that emotion fester I will create something on procreating to express those emotions. Not everything ends up online as some things are full of anger and are kept for personal expression, but I find expressing myself through art very expressive. 

T&P: Once you’ve found inspiration to create a piece, what’s your process of bringing the idea to life?

LIBBY: I have a look through google and Pinterest for inspiration. For example with this piece, I searched for images of flowers behind people. I tend to search for photographs rather than illustrations as I find if I search for illustrations I have a tendency to imitate that image rather than create my own. Once I have found a few photographs I doodle something on paper and go from there. After this point there isn’t really much of a process, I kind of sit with some music playing and draw.

T&P: Your illustrations are very bright and colorful. How do you choose the colors you use in your works? What do the colors mean to you? 

LIBBY: I love using colours that complement each other, like orange and yellow or blue and green or pink and blue. I love bright colours. I think people are drawn to bright colours. They catch our eye and excite us. I think they’re very appealing to us. Bright colours for me represent positivity. They represent something magical. Dull or dark colours can often make my mood lower, whereas bright colours lift my mood and that’s what I want my artwork to do. I want it to draw you in, lift your mood and make you think. 

T&P: What is your biggest goal when illustrating? 

LIBBY: Honestly I’m not too sure. Right now I’m just having fun and taking it as it comes. I am three away from 100 orders on Etsy since March, so hitting 100 orders is my current goal. I have a product launch at the beginning of August and I would love for it to be successful enough for me to do further product launches. I want my art to help people. I want people to look at my artwork on their walls and feel comforted and safe. I think that would be my main goal, for people to feel less alone.

T&P: What is one thing that frustrates you about being on social media?

LIBBY: I think something that can be very frustrating is engagement. Some posts will do incredibly well and I’ll get over 400 likes, some reaching 800+ however some posts barely reach 100 likes and it can often result in feeling a little disheartened as so much effort and work not only goes into the art work but also the captions and I do sometimes consider quitting, but then I’ll get a message from somebody telling me how much my art has helped them and it reminds me why I do this. If my posts help and make a difference to just one person then that’s a job well done in my eyes.

T&P: What’s one thing that excites you about social media? 

LIBBY: I love the interaction between followers. I love the feedback, both constructive and positive. I love having instant reactions to my art work. I love being able to have conversations with people about ideas of what to do next. I love the connection I have with people, that’s definitely the best part. 

T&P: If you could blow up one of your illustrations really big and hang it on a building which one would it be and why?

LIBBY: I would blow up one of my most recent illustrations highlighting that those with mental illness are not dangerous (see attached image). This is such a common misconception that those who have never encountered mental illness hold, and it’s very damaging. It’s very important to try and erase the stigma and this stigmatising belief in particular. Mental illness is no different from physical illness, it’s just in the brain instead of the body and we are no more dangerous than Joe down the road with a broken foot or Sally in the office with diabetes. 

T&P: In as little or as many words as possible, what does art mean to you?

LIBBY: Art is expression. Art brings emotion to life. Art is therapy. Art saved my life and no matter what happens with my illustrations I will be forever grateful for that. 

Libby’s badass, insightful, and just plain fun work can be viewed and purchased (SUPPORT SMALL BUSINESSES!) using these links down below:

Instagram

Etsy

To be interviewed for Thrifts and Prints anti-standard segment-you have to do two things

  1. follow ThriftsandPrints on Instagram so I know who the heck you are!
  2. Be an artist


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