California babe Leah Wolchin uses playboys and fuckboys to make art; but to make women feel empowered? Millenial text relationships and erotic pictures of women come together in a humorous harmony. We talk 21st century relationships, nipples, and Instagram followers.
So Leah, could you tell us a bit about yourself, where you’re from and what brought you to creating art?
I am a native Californian and grew up in a home with three sisters – imagine having to find your place in that! My first introduction to what love is was stripped away following my parents divorce, although I was too juvenile then to coherently voice what I was seeing and feeling. My compositions relay my innermost contemplations, not just about life but also about the world around me. High school wasn’t my brightest hour either, I lost myself in every sense of the word and would wake up each day hoping that it would end just as soon as it began. Many of my personal relationships developed over text message rather than in person and I felt I had no way of expressing my discontentment.
But one day I accidentally dragged a screenshot I had on my desktop into the Photoshop application. It looked so risqué. I just went with it. The fact that I could expose myself in the most vulnerable way felt liberating. I quickly realized how other people could also heal if I took their words and turned them into art too. I’ve constructed a sanctuary for individuals to feel secure and gain strength. With my art, I’ve become someone who will empower you to open the world in a way that you'll never want to close it again.
You mention on your Instagram bio that your works are hand made’. Do you physically cut and paste images or do you use programmes like Photoshop?
It’s a mixture of the two. My creative process is constantly changing and evolving as I continue to explore different ways of producing artwork.
Are the iMessage’s that you feature in your work real life, or are they ever a monologue?
The text messages you see in my art are all real conversations exchanged between two people. They’re either segments from one of my own exchanges, or a screenshot sent to me by my wonderful friends and followers. My art is interactive, relatable, and limitless, using iMessage (the media of choice we’re all using today), it becomes relevant to our lives.
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The tone of your works has this sort of deadpan humour and irony to them, are you commenting on 21st century dating?
The flaw with being human is that you often don’t see where you are broken, and you often don’t see where you are whole. I’ve always been told that I have a great sense of humor and tend to find the light in every situation. Many people see that when they view my art. Comedy is unquestionably one of the ways I portray the modern dating scene. It’s not easy growing up with a certain idea of how romance should play out. And then you hit a certain age and suddenly you’re drowning in a sea of fuckboys. I believe now, more than ever, we need to see the humor. Otherwise, you can easily fall into the trap and think there’s no one better out there. A little salt never hurt anybody, so sprinkle that shit everywhere!
Have you ever had your posts reported or removed on social media for their content?
Yes, I have. It is hands down the worst part about Instagram – right after the algorithm.
Are you a supporter of the #freethenipple campaign?
Absolutely. Whilst I believe there is a time and place for nudity, I don’t think the nipple needs to be as sexualized as it has been in the past.
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A lot of the erotic imagery you use has a romanticized, vintage look. Is this because you source the images or magazines second-hand, or because you like the aesthetic?
It’s both. The women you see are cut and ripped out of vintage Playboys. I dabbled in many different mediums and happened to stumble upon an old Playboy magazine. As soon as I opened it up, my mind just put all the pieces together and I had this moment of divine inspiration. The whole point is to take the woman out from a place where she is intentionally meant to be objectified and give her a complete new meaning: one where she is now seen as a powerful figure. I reconstruct these images to express feminine essence and strength, and I hope to encourage women to embrace every aspect of who we are. Have you seen the sauce these ladies deal with?
Have you considered also exhibiting your work in a gallery space?
The ultimate goal is to host a solo exhibition of my works. I would love to have a gallery opening where my followers can visit and see their conversations in a tangible form. It would be unforgettable!
Your captions are quite cryptic and poetic – as if the image is an illustration for them. Have you also thought about pursuing your writing further?
Thank you. Many of the captions come from things I’ve said in passing or even advice I get from Uber drivers. The universe is always trying to send you messages, you just have to be open to receiving them. I’ve noticed that many people come to me for guidance or just to talk and get a piece of my mind. That being said, I plan on launching a YouTube channel once I hit 10K as a celebration. I’ll probably kick start it with a Q & A, as my Instagram is overflowing with message requests. I gotta get through those at some point anyway, right? I don’t foresee a writing career ahead; I’ll leave that to my older sister and word connoisseur Rachel Wolchin. She can whip up inspiration and knowledge like you’ve never seen. Check her out!
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You have quite a following on Instagram, over 9k. Do you feel the pressure to keep updating your social media feed?
In this digital world we live in, many people base their self worth on the amount of followers/likes they have. I went through a period of time where I didn’t log in for three months because I was determined to break this illusion I too felt. It worked, and as much as I am grateful for the nine thousand humans that follow me, I make sure that whenever I post, it’s simply to share and not to take. I can’t tell you how many times I thought posting something would lift my spirits, but instead made me feel shitter. It made me realize that what we really look for is not depth, but relevance. We long to connect with one another, and crave to understand and be understood.
Do you think Instagram is the most important form of social media for creatives like yourself to get their work seen?
I certainly think that out of all the platforms available, Instagram is the one app that artists should focus on.
Could you give us the names of three interesting Instagram feeds we need to follow?
@c__l__o, @rachelwolchin, @fffflicka
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