Lisa Rose is a woman on a mission. She runs into our interview a few minutes late with work hot off the press ‘the man who prints my work was supposed to have made loads of copies but he only did one. Such a nightmare. He printed more out on the spot though!’
After growing up in Rome with an Italian mother and British father, Lisa Rose moved to the UK to study illustration in an attempt to find better creative opportunities. Influenced from a young age by Italian comic culture, she gained a lot of inspiration from the more “adult” artists and titles – horror comic series Dylan Dog, erotic master Guido Crepax, adventure stories by H.P. Pratt, among others. She later realised there was a lack of representation ‘most Italian artists whose work I remember reading or who were considered masters of the trade were men. I didn't see many women being represented.’
Primarily a visual artist, her work explores the topics of female empowerment and self love with a strong focus on creating and supporting female networks. The online world of art is fast-paced and intense, yet this is where Lisa Rose excels. Utilising Instagram and Etsy as her primary modes of communication with the public, she delivers punchy graphic illustrations with impressive regularity, leading to dialogue and debate on the representation and expectations of the female form.
The most refreshing thing about Lisa Rose’s art and work ethic is the way that it enables other people and artists to have a piece of the limelight. ‘The projects I’ve been most proud of have been the ones involving other people, either by drawing women to promote self love or supporting other artists like with the "Girl Gang" exhibition. If you have a skill and if people are responding positively to it, the more people you can involve and pull up with you, the better’. She claims this is not a conscious effort on her part but it is undeniable that a lot of the recent work she has created has centred around women and their experiences.
By Flo Williams
The topics of her work could be considered quite diverse, but female experiences and self love are reoccurring themes. She doesn’t want to call her work “body positive” as she recognises it as a political movement that has often been co-opted and overused especially in the insta-sphere, but her recent work focuses on the types and parts of female bodies not often seen in mainstream media. ‘All bodies have belly rolls, hair, stretchmarks; trying to unlearn what we've been taught and transition into not seeing them as flaws is a really positive and political move’.
As well as promoting self love, the desexualisation of women is another theme Lisa Rose explores. ‘It’s a bit hard to make people understand the difference when you do also draw erotic art, but I try to distinguish between bodies that are being sexual and bodies that simply happen to be naked. Society teaches us that women are inherently sexual in their existance - whatever you do or whatever you wear it’ll attract the male gaze. In reality we’re just trying to live.’ One way in which she herself is experiencing this is by being an artist in the public sphere. ‘Art is a lens through which you view society; it’s important to capture different experiences within art because you have to reflect the society we live in. These images will outlive the mood of the time but it’s so important to have a record of it.’
The internet can sometimes be an off-putting platform for an artist whose work can be or be read as erotic or socially involved. As Lisa Rose says ‘90% of it is incredibly supportive and lovely, but the 10% of men sending me unsolicited dick pics isn't so great.’ However she does concede that with so many artists and models all over the world having similar or much worse interactions, it creates a supportive environment which nurtures interactions between women.
Lisa Rose shall continue to rebel against the popular media representation of women, and keep creating iconic images to represent the diverse society in which we live. Her curated exhibition supporting female friendship ‘Girl Gang’ is on show in SPACE gallery from the 9th-15th October. Check out her instagram @thelisabelle