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Polly Nor – drawing women and their demons

This interview is part of the collaborators section in XConfessions

We have a new artist on XConfessions!

🌺 🌻 🌹 🌷 🌼 🌸


I first spotted Polly’s incredible illustrations in Dazed Magazine. She had illustrated a young girl with her hand in her knickers, with her laptop out whilst looking at her phone, and I found it at once hilarious and profoundly accurate. The younger generations who have grown up with technology will probably relate to it more than I do, but still – the multi-tasking of masturbation and checking your emails is very amusing.

She’s also collaborated with the band Chelou on a music video this month, which you can watch below!

When I contacted her to ask her to collaborate with me on XC, I was expecting a smart woman with a lot to say. But after interviewing her, she has blown my expectations out of the water! Exploring feminism and navigating the language of being a young woman in the 21st century through her art, Polly has some super interesting things to say. Read on to find out more!



Can you tell me a bit about how and when you started working in this style?

I’ve been working in this particular style for about 2 years now. I started out just drawing small black and white doodles of girls and devils that I would upload on to Instagram. It was just a bit of fun at the beginning but people seemed to like them and they started getting a bit of an online following. It just kept growing from there really, my drawings progressed to bigger more colourful images and the characters and stories kept growing.

What made you want to collaborate with XConfessions?

I first heard of XConfessions last year when I came across an interview with Erika Lust on Dazed Digital. For years me and my girl friends had been discussing the problems with porn, everything from the lack of female pleasure to the unnecessarily derogatory titles on most well-known porn sites. Most of us had a complicated relationship with this kind of porn – some of us had grown up watching it but felt it had given us a very warped idea of sex and female sexuality, some of us felt it had a negative affect on our partner’s sexual behavior and our relationships and all of us agreed that the porn industry desperately needed more female directors, to offer some sort of balance to this very male centric representation of sex. So it was really refreshing coming across Erika and XConfessions and I’ve been keen to collaborate ever since.

I feel like much of your narrative is about the female identity. Is that true?

Yeah, I’ve always mainly drawn female characters but the style of the characters has definitely shifted over the years. As a teenager I was really self conscious and I obsessed over any imperfections in a really unhealthy way. This is something that I feel like too many young girls are taught to do in our society as we are fed the idea that our value lies in our appearance and how well we fit a very narrow ideal of beauty within our western culture. Back then I’d draw girls with long legs, tiny waists, big breasts, lips and eyes, these characters would reflect the way I felt I was supposed to look as a female.

As I’ve grown up and into my own skin, my characters have definitely grown with me and I want to move away from this ever-present focus on girls’ appearances. I want to create artwork that instead focuses on how it feels being a girl today.

Is there a story behind the recurring demon in your images?

I draw them as part of the female character’s imagination, a grotesque and unstable part of herself that she keeps from the rest of the world, a devilish manifestation of her anxieties, frustrations and desires.

I love the way you intertwine grotesque imagery like peeling off a layer of skin, with casual eroticism. What is the inspiration there?

Thanks! In these images where she is home alone with nobody around to judge, I like to imagine her peeling off her human skin to release the unapologetic beast hidden inside her. By doing so she removes herself from the pressures and expectations of the outside world and she is finally able to satisfy her own basic urges and needs with no regard for anybody else.

What’s in the future for your work?

I’ve just finished working on this animation Halfway To Nowhere with animator Andy Baker. It was really amazing watching my characters come to life. I’m definitely keen to do more animation work in the future. I’m also in the very early stages of a fashion collaboration with my favorite designer and illustrating a book for Bloomsbury. Other than that I’m trying to get new artwork done for my next solo exhibition.

If you could describe yourself in one image, what would that be?

‘Learned to hide my crazy’ best represents me best at this point in my life because I’ve kind of managed to get my shit together for now but who knows how long it will last.



Did you ever find a good visual representation of an orgasm? If so, can you share it with us?

Probably either of these two…



Polly Nor’s work has illustrated two confessions so far, Una Noche Fria and Autogynephilia. Check it out, and more info about her and her work, on XConfessions!


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