The Importance of being open

Q – Bella how does your work incorporate your queerness?

Me not neccesarily creating queer work, but I’d like to do a bit more. Obviously these labels are good and feel a part of something it is important, at the end of the day i’m still a human being, my sexuality doesn’t necessarily completely define me. I would still like to incorporate that in the future.

Q – How important do you feel queerness in arts & culture is?

I think it’s massively important I remember speaking to my friends about this and how I think tv, the only queer tv I had growing up was Will & Grace and Queer Eye For A Straight Guy but there was no bi representation there whatsoever. Sometimes I actively avoid stuff with bi characters because they do get massively stigmatised.

In terms of culture, I feel it’s Massively important. Growing up there was none of that, especially in school you feel your weird and different, you don’t know how you’re feeling it. When you come from a religious background like me, and  it’s just not expressed and you have to internalise things.

Q – What do you want people to take away from your work?

I think especially in this Instagram era, everyone is so good at comparing each other, I know I’m guilty of it all the time.

Ultimately what I’d like is for people to just be a bit more open and vulnerable

I have a few mental health issues with anxiety and trauma, and I think I just want people to know, you know the whole it’s ok not to be ok thing? I think people just benefit from trying to be a bit more open about things and not trying to pretend like everything’s fine. Once you start opening up to people, people start to say ‘oh i’ve been struggling with that too’.

Openness, honesty & human connection

Q – The theme of our first issue is ‘Myth’ can you tell us how you interpreted that?

Initially I was looking at the oversexualisation, fetisisation particuallry with femmes and femmes safety. That kinda ties into the sexual violence and how bi women are more at risk of rape. Then I kinda got into thinking about my own experience and I’ve never really talked about it before, it kinda once I started writing things down it all came out.

I work in a way where I start writing things here, sketching things here and take bits from it everywhere and try and put it all together. I think that’s where my piece has come from.

Q – How important is it to be able to have a space that you can express yourself as a queer artist?

We’re still compared to gay folks and lesbians and other aspects of queerness. We’re constantly overshadowed and erased all the time. It’s still not taking seriously.The whole bi men are really gay and bi women are just experiementing. I feel like people still just don’t take us seriously. It’s hard trying to do your own work and justify yourself from both ends.

The more representation and celebration that we have people will understand it’s not easier to come out as bi as it is gay. We need to be more supportive. Yeah I think it is really important to have a platform to express ourselves.

Q – If you had one piece of advice for your younger self (looking back now) what would it be and why?

Stop going to church. – dunno if that sounds bad or not, Christian guilt coming in there… I think it’s just done so much damage, that I’m trying to undo it.

“top going to church. Don’t listen to your parents necessarily, and just do you.

Q – If you had to sum up the wonder that is the bi community in one sentence, what would it be?

I think it’s got a spectrum of its own. It seems a lot more  fluid, exciting. I feel like it’s a LOT MORE OPEN.

Being open is really important.

Bella Schilling

She / Her | London | Illustrator

Instagram | Website

Aside from being a badass illustrator, Bella is an art director and calligrapher. She creates thought provoking pieces that draw on the oversexulisation and sexual violence that occurs within the bi community. Drawing on her own experiences to power her pieces she wants people to be more open, honest and vulnerable just like she is in her work.

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