The 20 year old illustrator Anya-Lee Temple can best be described as a tough cookie. While studying English Literature and Art, she is a successful illustrator in her time off. Body positivity and self love are values she puts high on her list. We talked to her about being her own muse and advice she wants to give other girls (including her younger self).
Interview with illustrator Anya-Lee Temple
To start: can you tell a bit about yourself? How did you become an illustrator?
“Yes, of course! My name is Anya-Lee Temple, I am 20 years old studying English Literature and Art at the University of Reading. Drawing has always been my favorite medium and I started from a very young age. I would say this is why I have gravitated towards presenting illustrations on my Instagram account. However, my university work can vary in medium still as I experiment through ideas. I have been running my art account (@anyaleeart) now since October 2018 and am thrilled with the lovely reception.”
And you’ve been drawing yourself ever since?
“I began drawing myself in order to spread messages of self positivity and body positivity. Studying English Literature has allowed my interest in depictions of femininity to grow. I convey these ideas through different poses which can vary from having sexual connotations through to being more delicate.”
That’s very interesting. So, you use yourself as your ‘muse’ and with that, you want to stimulate body positivity. Can you tell a bit more about this subject?
“Yes. I wanted a different angle for my account as well as a positive one! After struggling with body image I thought using myself as a subject would be a positive pursuit for myself, it meant I could start looking at my body more objectively allowing for personal growth.”
Was it also about self love?
“Yes, exactly. I also wanted to encourage others that ‘self love’ is nothing to be ashamed of and thought sharing my growth could encourage others to have this outlook. Using myself as a subject is also great practically because if I think of a pose I can easily snap a picture of myself/be inspired by daily movement. I am also most familiar with myself out of any subject so it makes proportions easier.”
That makes a lot of sense. In line with this, how do body positivity and self positivity play a role in your life today?
“Body positivity and self positivity have only really played a big role in my life since starting my Instagram account. I cannot express how much of a positive difference it has had on my entire outlook and I wish I had started to focus on body and self positivity sooner. I personally find creativity enriches my feelings of positivity, making the link between my feelings and content so strong.”
And how do your illustrations spread the message of self love and body positivity?
“I want my message to of course be a positive one that encourages others to see their bodies as an opportunity to empower themselves. I have been thrilled with messages people have sent to say I’m their daily dose of positivity or that I have encouraged them to spend more time on personal growth. I think my illustrations lead by example and display pride in my new found confidence. Often people feel ashamed to say they love themselves, I still feel I have some way to go but I hope I can continue to inspire other people to work towards self love.”
That’s amazing. I think you’ve already helped many girls and that’s great. So, besides illustrating yourself, do you also work for clients?
“As I am still a university student it means I haven’t been able to pursue my own work professionally. At the minute I sell some prints on Etsy and do the odd commission for clients as more of a hobby.”
How does it differ from your own work?
“The work I do can often differ depending on the subject matter, my line work can vary from my graphic line style on my account to slightly sketchier and different variations on shading. I try and ensure that the style suits the subject as much as possible. I literally do anything for commissions from portraits, to plants, full body etc. I find it really fun and exciting to bring people’s visualizations to life and trying to capture a sense of the person’s identity in the drawing.”
Which work are you most proud of?
“Due to the fact my work is on a social media platform I’m proud of posts that receive higher engagement. However, some of my favorite designs are those that haven’t done as well. I particularly enjoy drawing my face in the work as it is a challenge where I can experiment with my line style and it can be a change from just figurative work.”
At last – looking at your younger self. Is there any piece of advice you would give??
“I would definitely tell my younger to self to stop worrying about appearance and going out of my comfort zone. It is so important not to compare yourself to others and since I have focussed on myself I have been able to achieve so much more. It is much easier said than done but small steps like cutting out negative influences is a good way to start. I was also really scared to try a graphic line style but loved it, I wish I had started sooner!”
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