Art Interview: Bans Illustration
My love affair with Bans Illustration started like all modern day romances – on Instagram. The bright, perky and visually comical presence dominated my feed amongst a sea of selfies and aerial food shots. While visually prominent, it’s actually the darker and somewhat sarcastic underlying commentary that got me to commit with the ‘Follow’ click. Bans is part of the comic style art movement using ironic imagery and text to comment on personal inflictions or simply have a bitch about society. This style of art has been strongly adopted in the urban art scene and skate culture for years, but it’s now, with the assistance of social media, that is reaching a whole new market, aka everyone with an internet connection.
‘As soon as I was 15 everything changed and I just loved dark things and then it was all about sex, women, feminist issues and stuff. I did a painting degree and all of my work was very much about sex and porn and how it’s dark and it was all like monster rape and stuff.’
The woman behind Bans is Hannah Prebble. Hailing from Kent, she fled home to complete a painting degree in Brighton before realising that her personal views and desired areas of exploration were just not getting their proper representation within the traditional constraints of Fine Arts. Upon moving to London about three years ago, the fellow technologically challenged gal embraced the digital world and Bans Illustration found its medium.
‘I used to go around Tesco’s and supermarkets and go and put little monster faces over the lads mags and be like grrrrr. I was an angry little feminist.’
As a self labelled feminist, Hannah casually admitted to performing her own version of guerrilla street art by spending a year painting tiny monster faces and sticking them over the lusty faces on nudie magazines around town. If that’s not badass enough for you she also co-created (along with Jordana Globerman and Marja De Sanctis) ‘Pink Spex’ for the notorious Queens of Feminist Zines at One Beat Zines. Featuring a bloody sanitary pad on the cover and exploring sexuality through the eyes of women via black and white drawings, collages and text, ‘Pink Spex’ preaches to the illustrators abilities to work past their vastly different aesthetics to create together.
‘My dream is to do album artwork for Drake.’
A far cry from the feminist tendencies, Prebble holds hiphop music and culture quite high on the inspiration list. Drawing from the ridiculous lyrics yet open nature to deal with human emotions (however *cough* vulgar), the words relate seamlessly with contradicting childlike, bright and sometimes pastel aesthetics. A recent project, ‘Bitches Be Trippin’, is a small zine based on hiphop lyrics and aliens. Best of both worlds, am I right? In the meantime, while waiting to hear from Drake’s people, Prebble has been consistently commissioned to create the album art for local bands amongst other projects.
‘I love anything a bit trashy. Trashy music, trashy TV, everything. Just pain and love and everything about being a human. Everything is so nicely packaged, colourful and shiny but then actually behind it, it’s about being fucking heartbroken.’
A common theme amongst the work is strongly repetitive digitally created backgrounds usually with a central word (Fuck, Wanna Bone?, Not You) often contradicting the innocent childlike look at first glance. She relates strongly with creating a visual counterpart of sugarcoating the harsh realities of heartbreak and in turn relating to the most of her audience, because let’s be honest, we’ve all wanted to flip someone the bird and tell them to ‘Get Fucked’ while simultaneously maintaining a sugar sweet grin. No? Just me?
‘Now my life is on track. Well it’s obviously not really.’
Currently working on producing pieces for her first solo show which she would only comment that it will involve ‘a bunch of aliens and these vibes.’, she is also dipping her toes further into the urban street culture, particularly the skate civilisation. As a fellow enthusiast, when this was brought up I naturally got very excited and started blabbering on about how she should create one off boards with her visuals on it.* In this lifetime people are constantly telling others how to do things and get shit done, luckily, the mind behind the images maintains a grounded mindset where she would not ‘sell my soul for a lot of money’ and ‘just have to stick to your style, otherwise, it would just suck.’
*I still stand by this concept and will continue to harass Hannah until I have my one of kind Bans Illustration board hanging on my wall.
Interview by Kaya Strehler.