Artist Ylenia Molinari talks – ‘my need to fix emotions on a canvas’
She’s an artist: illustrator, graphic designer, painter, fashion and shoe designer. But she doesn’t work in the industry. At 26, she’s currently a supervisor in Press coffee and has worked in hospitality for three years, since she moved to London after completing her studies in Italy.
WNOL: How would you define your art?
An extension of my soul. I put my feeling on my art, even though it might not mean anything to someone else, each of my drawings and paintings is an emotion that I’ve felt with the need to fix it on a canvas.
WNOL: Who is Ylenia Molinari?
(laughs) She’s an artist… I guess. I haven’t found my way yet. I do many things: I do paintings, tattoos… I mean I do tattoos on me, I’ve never tried doing it on people because I don’t trust myself. So if I do it on myself is fine. I like things that are artistic or creative, but I don’t know what to do. I mean I can do everything, but it’s like doing nothing.
WNOL: Do you think you art sends a message? Do you want it to send a message?
Not actually. It’s more like expressing myself and my feelings. It’s why I’ve never done exhibitions. People ask me ‘why didn’t you do an exhibition’, because I don’t want to show it, it’s something that’s for myself. Even when they ask me for commissions, I just draw what’s in my mind.
WNOL: You seem to have a very strong position over nudity on Instagram, what do you think about it?
I’m very open about this. I like modeling, I do nude modeling but I don’t like to share it because I know that many people message me about it and not in an artistic way. I’m very upset that they see me just for my naked body, like a sexual object. I’ve never posted before because my friend, she posted a drawing of a girl showing her nipple and they censored it. So if they remove a drawing, I cannot post a picture obviously. I don’t understand why it is allowed for men to show their nipples. If men’s aren’t sexual then women’s shouldn’t be either.
WNOL: Your profile picture on your Instagram account says ‘ask me about my crippling anxiety’, what’s that about?
It’s weird, but this friend, she’s a photographer and she asked me to pose for her. And I connected that photoshoot with my anxiety. Usually when I do modeling I don’t look happy. Or when I take a picture of myself I’m never really happy because I’ve got anxiety and I don’t feel like smiling in my pictures, even though I’m a pretty happy person. (laughs)
WNOL: Why did you shave your head?
I think the first time was after a mental breakdown, instead of cutting myself to do something bad to my body, I just shaved my head. I knew I wouldn’t like myself without hair but I’m now used to it and I actually like it. The second time was a month ago after another mental breakdown because I lost my best friend. He died on Christmas day. Now I’m getting over it. They first thought it was a suicide. I was super upset because he was supposed to be my best friend and he didn’t tell me anything. But after a month we found out it wasn’t a suicide, it was an accident where he fell down from a building.
WNOL: What about your tattoos?
I think I can’t count them now, definitely have more than 25. I haven’t done them all, but most of them. For example this one says ‘nothing is going to hurt you baby’, it’s from a song and I got it done on the palm of my hand. It is one of the most painful places to get a tattoo and that’s why I did it there. Most of them have meanings, probably all of them.
WNOL: Do you think there should me more conversation going on around mental health?
Yeah. In my previous workplace, I told my manager I was having a panic attack and she just told me ‘yeah, yeah, go out for a smoke’. And it’s like no, I’m having a panic attack, I don’t need a smoke. People don’t understand anxiety either. They’re all ‘just chill out’ and it’s like no, it’s not about that. Yeah I relax, I go to bed at 9 pm but don’t go to sleep until 2 am. I spend hours trying to sleep. For many people it’s hard to talk about it. I found out a few months ago that I am bipolar and it’s hard to understand. My flatmate is bipolar too and she takes medicine but I don’t want to.
WNOL: What kind of work do you see yourself doing in the future?
Something creative for sure. I’m not even looking for a creative job at the moment because I met this guy who’s an artist, he’s a painter. He was doing it as a job and he started to not enjoy it because he had to do commissions. After a while he left his job and started to work as a kitchen porter, I would never work as that but (laughs). He does that for four days a week and he’s got three days that he can actually paint and he told me he’s much happier. So maybe finding a creative job is not my way, maybe I can just do a normal job and in my free time do my art.
Cover image: Ylenia Molinari