We don’t know about you all, but we’re obsessed with Olivia Campbell aka The Curvy Campbell. So, when we came across an abstract illustration of her, we needed to know where it came from. It was then we discovered the plus size artist behind Babes And Botanicals.
The illustrations are described as “botanical portraits of babes living their best lives” as a way to “celebrate marginalized bodies.”
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We caught up with artist Polly Robinson who specializes in lino printing and is the founder of Babes And Botanicals. She dished about her process, goals, and defined body positivity for herself.
Get To Know Polly Robinson of Babes And Botanicals
The Curvy Fashionista: Why the concept, ‘Babes and Botanicals?’ What sparked that interest?
Polly Robinson: “I had a bit of time off work where I wasn’t so well, and actually during that time, I found it quite therapeutic to do some online life drawing classes. I found that a really good time just to focus and be absorbed in exactly what I was doing, and I kind of forgot about everything that was going on— [the] pandemic.
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“I thought I kind of want to use my images from my life drawing classes to make artwork out of using my lino printing. I also love plants. There’s that combination. I have at least 25 in [my living room]. Using the babes thing comes from a desire to want to kind of empower and celebrate bodies of a diverse range.
Bodies that aren’t necessarily ideal in society. Bodies that are not represented, bodies that aren’t celebrated, bodies that are told [they] shouldn’t exist.”
“I want to show that they are beautiful. Your size or how your body looks doesn’t determine the wonderful qualities you have as a human being.“
Robinson added that she wanted to increase representation. As a plus size woman, she feels “living in a larger body isn’t something that should hold you back from living your life. And enjoying everything there is to enjoy out there.”
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She revealed, “I experienced myself a lot of stigma and discrimination because of that. It feels like the world wants to hold me back, but I feel like this year I found my place to start. Babes and Botanicals was born from that.”
The Curvy Fashionista: For now, are you sticking with the linear minimalist design or do you see yourself expanding into other mediums?
Polly Robinson: “I think I’m going to stick with lino printing. I want to explore a bit with the style, but also different colors, different papers because it starts out quite basic and I’d like to explore it more. I think the other thing that I’d like is to explore my platform for it to become not just my outlet, but hopefully create a community. I’d love to expand it and see where it goes.”
The Curvy Fashionista: That’s awesome! I remember you saying you took a life drawing class early this year. Would you say you’re professionally taught and then self-taught?
Polly Robinson: “So the life drawing classes that I was taking, they weren’t directed to necessarily improve your drawing. They were specific kinds of classes that were more about the experience of drawing bodies of different shapes, sizes, etc. More of a space for that. So, whereas I have been able to develop my skills for doing that, I’m mostly self-taught. I do have a fine art degree, but in that, I didn’t really do much drawing. It was more conceptual and digital based.“
The Curvy Fashionista: How would you say this journey has impacted you?
Polly Robinson: “When I started it, I was taking some time off. My mental health was struggling with lots of different stuff and being able to focus on creating this platform and the positivity and the growth that I have has really been empowering for me and given me something really positive to focus on—even though this year has been really difficult. Of what I’ve managed to create, there have been good things that have come out of this year.“
The Curvy Fashionista: What would you say body positivity means to you?
Polly Robinson: “I think this is a bit of a difficult one at the moment especially on social media. There’s a lot of people who I think are in smaller sizes that have been trying to claim the body positive.
For me, it’s more about just not letting how you view or how you think other people view your body stop you from doing everything you want to do. [It’s important to] not have all that negativity that you may feel about your body take up the space in your head that you could be using for so many other things.
I think it can start at that level where it’s more mentality and then you can build on to loving you and your body and yourself. And that’s kind of the goal, but I think that the other first step would just be getting rid of all that negativity. “
The Curvy Fashionista: How do you go about picking a babe as your muse when you’re like trying to do something new?
Polly Robinson: “I’ve both used images for my life drawing classes. And then also as you’ve seen, I’ve used people that I follow on Instagram. I found that Instagram—for some people— it depends how you use it; it can be a bit of a dangerous place. If you create your feed to [see] people who are like you, or makes sure that it’s diverse, it can actually be really positive. I’ve used people that I have found inspiring for what they do and create. I chose them to celebrate them and all that they did.”
The Curvy Fashionista: What goals do you have for expanding your art and your shop?
Polly Robinson: “I think creating a calendar of the holidays to hit and stuff to make stuff. I want to expand on color range, paper range, different sizes, and people. If I am going to do more influencers or other people on Instagram involving more interviews with them to incorporate in the pieces. Hopefully, making an online community. That’s what I’d love to do.“
This interview has been condensed for length and clarity.