Australian artist Susanna Rose Sykes bears the female form in an honest and psychedelic style that we simply can’t get enough of. With schooling in both fashion and illustration, Sykes teams the two with traces of alternative coming-of-age narratives to create ingenious candid characters floating through the void between adolescence and adulthood—that in-between realm of radical ups and downs.
Sykes’ illustrations speak to individuals on a level of mixed emotion and humor. “Her girls” are meant to empower and familiarize, and it’s hard not to fall in love with the colorful vulnerability of Sykes’ pouty personalities—an enlightening and true-to-life oxymoron. It’s all about the raw emotions, something so many artists feel but can hardly depict in its clarity. We spoke with Sykes and got her lax firsthand explanations of her work.
Give us the Susanna Sykes spiel: Who are you? What do you do? Why do you do it?
I’m Susanna Rose Sykes; I am an artist and illustrator from Queensland, Australia, although I recently relocated to Melbourne. I create art and a lot of it. I do it because I love it and it is my passion for life! My new life motto is “work hard or, get out da game!”
What first got you interested in illustrating? Was there an AHA moment, or has this always been a passion?
I think my interest in art and illustrating probably came from my parents, my dad being a sign writer and my mum a graphic designer.
How would you define your artistic style? How has your work transformed since your first few pieces?
I would probably describe it as stylized figurative coming of age. My works have developed a lot especially since graduating from university. It helps to be adaptable, try new styles and mediums.
Who are all the rad, sad chicks in your pieces? Where do you find the inspiration for them, and what do they represent?
Some of them are imaginary and some are inspired by real people and their experiences. I like to think in a way my girls can represent yourself!
LOVE your color palette. Tell us about it; you’ve got a great mix of bright and cool going on.
Pastels are my thing! I like to juxtapose my colors with my imagery in a way that it might confuse or distort the meaning of the image. It’s up to you what you take from it.
A lot of undertones in your pieces: angst, lust, sorrow, raw sexual desire. Can you discuss the significance of these?
I love raw emotions! Gotta feel ‘dem feels kids! Feel em hard!
What is currently inspiring you? Books, music, people, art, movies/TV, cities, etc.
I am constantly inspired by the people around me! It helps that I am surrounded by some of the most beautiful, entrepreneurial, hard working babes on the planet. I have been listening to the Cults a lot—super emotional!—watching Bob’s Burgers, and reading old Sweet Valley High novels I’ve been collecting!