Interview with Liv & Dom
This month we got in touch with Liv and Dom, two inspirational sisters creating amazing ceramics and prints, to talk to them about naked ladies and feminism.
Can you describe what you do and your inspiration behind it?
We are full time artists who mainly work in ceramics and with little design and teaching side gigs and occasional illustration thrown in. The inspiration behind it, as basic as it sounds, was to use our skills to make a living doing something we could realistically sustain interest in for a number of years.
The inspiration to start our business was as simple as that. We don't come from a very wealthy background and that can make you focus quite hard on improving that aspect of your life. The inspiration for our style came from a mixture of both our artistic interests and styles, pooling together our individual skills. Also the brief we set ourselves for our last university project which was based on the beach in the seaside town we studied in hence the nude bods!
Do you have a specific process when you begin working on a project or piece?
We usually come up with ideas separately just in our heads and then come to each other with them to see what the other thinks. We don't do a great deal of planning or drawings- it's a very internal process for us. Using mental imagery to see our ideas before going straight into 3D. Bigger projects we will maybe have a sit down at breakfast and do some back and forth brain storming and draw out some ideas together.
What was the first thing you made together?
This is really hard to determine, I'm sure we can't remember our first piece we collaborated on as we were probably babies! We drew all over the walls together when we were toddlers (our mum really loved that)... We used to make clothes and books for our toys... We went through a phase of making these little rabbits in different poses out of fimo. We have worked on many projects through our short lives!
How do you manage the daily tasks of running a business between the two of you?
We both have our separate roles that sometimes overlap but mainly to keep things running smoothly we stick to them. I will do most of the email correspondence (like this interview) the Instagram and most 2D illustration pieces. Dom is in charge of our best sellers (our incense holders) and will make the majority of these because she's just better at it! She uses her keen eye to quality control everything. She also arranges ordering our materials.
A huge amount of images of women that we are exposed to these days seem to objectify the female body whereas we think your work turns this on it's head by celebrating the female form and bringing a sense of fun to nakedness rather than fetishising it. Is this something you think about when you are making work?
The funny thing is is the first nude incense holders we made were actually men! So I guess we were sort of playing around with male sexuality to begin with because the incense was the penis etc. We thought it was amusing. Then we thought oh hey this can be reversed and the nude lady incense holder happened and she was a hit! We came to it from a very objective slant, the body has a simple look to it, the male and female have very similar forms almost as a design choice. It wasn't meant to represent much but I think having that kind of neutral blank canvas body has made it so a lot all sorts of people can appreciate them. They could have been crude but it's fun. It says something about objectification or fetishisation and taking back the female body to a lot of people which is really great and we've embraced that now.
We feel that often women are exposed to unnecessary competition with each other and struggle with the pressure to live up to the standards of other women. One of the reasons that we started this series of blogs was to celebrate the women who inspire us and encourage women and girls to support each other. Do you have any advice or ideas on how we can continue to support our sisters and help every woman thrive?
This is a really challenging thing. A lot of women have their guard up around each other when they could be close given the chance.. We've always had a philosophy to focus on ourselves and to not compare ourselves to other people and that's worked for us. That distancing might not be too helpful either though, we could definitely be more involved in supporting our fellow ladies.
I suppose women should feel comfortable talking about those insecurities to realise we're in the same boat. Learning to respect differences as well is very important. Supporting your sisters by keeping unnecessary judgements to yourself and congratulating and encouraging women you think are doing well not being resentful or jealous is a great place to start.
Can you tell us about any women that you find inspiring, and why?
Any woman who has overcome adversity really. Single mums like our own mother that do their best even when things are really hard. We respect women that can take a hard situation and turn it around. Or even to just survive through a difficult period in their lives. Women struggling with illness or mental illness but doing their best is really brave.
We're not hugely into lofty role models and prefer to focus on the everyday role models you can find in acquaintances, friends and family. Of course the women that go beyond this and can then make an even bigger worldly impact are fantastic and very inspirational but we feel like it's one step at a time for us and maybe those women will come to spur us on later...
Has it been important for you to have other women to look up to?
I think we've touched on this in the previous question but yes it's just really important to know there are women killing it out there and the numbers are growing every day as we get more confidence and opportunities.
I remember when we went to the cinema to see the new Star Wars we both came out thinking wow we wish we had female characters doing this on our screens more when we were children. 'The heroes journey' is dominated by men still and there's a way to go but having visibility like that can really make a huge impact. If you don't see women being strong and achieving amazing things then you can really start to believe it's not possible.
What is the best bit of advice you have been given?
You better laugh or else you'll cry! This was really helpful when adult life started putting us through the mill a bit... We try to maintain our humour in rough patches, it often helps.
What's your biggest hope for gender equality over the next couple of years?
More men becoming less oblivious to everyday/mundane things women put up with because of gender inequality without a close friend or romantic partner having to spell it out. Just a general knowledge and understanding. It's those simple encounters that add up and it's not really much to ask!