Born in the heart of the Black Country, Claudia Knight is predominantly a writer who is exploring the capabilities of her creativity after moving to London and discovering the freedom in taking more risks in life. Having discovered the endless possibilities when creating digital art, her bold yet simple pieces explore her relationship with herself, her body and intimacy.
Inspired by Claudia’s illustrations, we hit her up and ended up discussing the similarities and differences between writing and visual art, the possibilities afforded by art to rethink our often tempestuous relationships with our bodies, and the colour pink’s renaissance.
When did you first start working with digital illustration and what drew you to it?
I only started working in this format over the last nine months or so. Before then, I hadn’t really dedicated time to working on my art because I’d convinced myself I wasn’t very good at it! However, digital illustration allows you to make mistakes without completely ruining your work which is something that has worked in my favour. The technological possibilities are endless when it comes to digital illustration too, meaning my work has the chance to be enhanced in so many ways.
Your work seems really interested in female forms and body positivity, can you speak a bit more about this? Are there any other themes you’re interested in exploring?
I’ve always had a bit of a love-hate relationship with my body and the way I perceive it. As I’m getting older, I’m realising that it’s much more rewarding to love yourself rather than the opposite. Learning to love your imperfections and feel proud of your body is extremely liberating and something that I hope my art inspires others to do. My work has also delved into sexuality and what it means to be a woman who owns her sexuality. I want other women to take control of this power we have and feel no shame in doing so; there’s nothing wrong with enjoying your body and the wonderful things it can do!
One thing I love about these illustrations is their vivid use of colour and the way that you often have multiple versions of the same illustration with different colouring. It feels very fresh and very suited to social media, particularly to Instagram where you share a lot of your work. Can you talk us through this?
Thank you! I guess I want my work to be as eye-catching and direct as possible – especially on a scroll-heavy platform like Instagram – which is easily achieved by using bold colours and text. I’ve also learned to embrace the colour pink and its many shades; I’ve never been a massive fan of it, but its inherent innocence and femininity end up complimenting my work quite well!
Which artists do you admire and what inspires you?
I am a huge fan of Florence Given despite only discovering her a few months ago. Her work is all about being a strong-minded, confident person which resonates with me and the message I am also trying to convey. There’s also @exotic.cancer whose work is amazing! I believe she works – or has worked – as a stripper, so her work is sexually charged but brutally real at the same time too. Her use of dreamy pastel palettes inspire me to branch out into new colour combinations! Jenny Holzer is a firm favourite of mine too and her graphic approach towards her art has influenced my approach towards combining words and illustrations.
Other than that, life as a twenty-something woman is my main inspiration. Whether it’s money troubles, city living, breakups, acne, drunken episodes or food, there’s always something from my day-to-day life that I can turn into art and share with people who I know go through all of the same stuff.
Conversely, is there a piece of art that everybody raves about that you just don’t get? You can tell us…
Ah, this is a tricky question! I don’t think I’ve ever really come across a piece of art that I don’t appreciate in one way or another. Even if it’s not necessarily my cup of tea, I think I can still see why someone else adores it – it’s all very subjective.
I know that you come from a creative writing background, do you find that your writing practice informs your illustration, or vice versa?
My writing usually acts as a catalyst for me to create a new piece, purely because of the raw emotions I’ve managed to jot down at that moment in time. The vast majority of my writing is done when I’m feeling particularly low – and sometimes drunk – which provides me with a good selection of material to work from. I’m a firm believer in being authentic in every aspect of your work, and my writing can be painfully honest at times.
In what ways is writing poetry similar to illustrating and in what ways is it different?
The two are similar in the sense that your emotions and lived experiences are what make them so poignant. Sometimes, I can write a short poem which can then be used in an illustration and, once the piece is finished, I feel a sense of catharsis; the whole thing can feel like a therapy session with myself where I’m getting a heaviness off of my chest. For myself, writing poetry often feels like a bit of a ‘brain dump’ whereas illustration is a more refined process. Either way, I love expressing myself through both mediums as they never get old and lose their appeal.
What’s next for you and your art?
I’d love to start printing or painting onto t shirts and tote bags! A few of my followers on Instagram have expressed their desire for one or the other, which is really spurring me on. Aside from that, who knows! I’m constantly learning where my strengths and weaknesses lie, so I’m just enjoying watching myself grow in new ways.
All images courtesy of Claudia Knight
Words by Nora Selmani