Polly Nor is a freelance illustrator based in North West London. Her work is frank, devilish and unabashed in its representation of real girls and their own personal space. Her highly sexualised, bold illustrations are satirical observations of societal issues tackling the themes of gender, equality and sexuality. Her characters are unmistakably styled and what some may call ‘grotesque’, providing an alternative to the unrealistic ideal of femininity that we see on a daily basis, whether it be on the front of a magazine, in art or behind closed doors in front of our laptop screens. Instead, her drawings are manifestations of feeling and thought rather than for the sole purpose of satisfying the ‘male gaze’.
Influenced by social media her drawings carry satire not only in their content but also in their titles such as ‘Shh bby no more tears over Fuckboyz’ and ‘Nm Rly Wbu’ comically representing communication in a digital age.
After attending her latest exhibition ‘Sorry Grandma’ we caught up with Polly to talk inspiration, devils and provoking a reaction:
Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background?
I was born and raised in London. Following a foundation year in graphic design at LCC I went on to study Illustration at Loughborough University. I now live in Kentish Town, North West London and work from my studio around the corner in Tufnell Park.
What inspires you?
A mixture really, the subject matter of my drawings generally comes from girl chat, usually talking about gender issues, sex and relationships, but then I take inspiration from lots of different things. Social media plays a part in my work. I’m also really influenced by dreams. I have really weird ones all the time. You know that one when you’re somewhere really familiar like work or school but then you realise that you’re actually naked and so everybody now knows the real you. I want to try and capture that feeling in my work.
Can you tell us about your processes?
I start with a line of dialogue or an image in mind, draw by hand, usually in layers and then scan, compose and colour digitally.
The devil features a lot in your work, why is this?
I use the devil to represent different ideas and stories, usually as a figment of the female’s imagination, a manifestation of her frustrations, emotions and desires.
Your representations of women (seem to me) a stark and satirical representation of female sexuality, what are your views about the representation of women in
I am interested in questioning the ubiquitous male vision that we have become accustomed to through most mainstream media. I’m bored of looking at images of women where their sole purpose is to look attractive.
I enjoy drawing my characters at home, alone in their rooms with nobody else to please. I want to focus on how they feel and what they are thinking rather then how they look.
Your latest exhibition was titled ‘Sorry Grandma’ what kind of reactions do you get from your work, what reactions do want it to trigger?
I’m interested in creating satirical and erotic, dream-like scenes with a focus on female sexuality and identity. I want them to be both funny and emotive. I also like them to be a little sordid and grim, hence the title ‘Sorry Grandma’.
What kind of reactions do I want to trigger? Well last night somebody commented on one of my Instagram ‘Ur art makes my heart and my brain horny for thinking’ –I think that is the probably the most perfect reaction.