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Cartoon girl turned real life—where did this personal story(line) come from? Also, can you please introduce yourself?

I am Lauren Carney (aka Dizzy Little Dotty) a Brisbane based Artist. I create in my work with different mediums – after all, we shouldn’t be restricted to just one box. The body of my work is mostly digital with photography x Photoshop illustration cross overs being my main draw card. I also work with traditional mediums – painting large scale murals and watercolour paintings. The ‘Cartoon girl turned real life’ term is about me belonging in a fantasy pop colour animation dreamland but crossing over into the "real world". The ideas in my head are all cartoon and translate onto paper in the same way. So I guess I want to tell stories where I am a part of my work.

What or who have been some of your main creative influences?

I think even though the themes of my work have changed over time,  ‘Romanticism’ has played a huge part. Not the tacky rom-com Hollywood kind, but the real life subtle kind of love. I value my relationships with people and like to incorporate certain elements of that connection into my drawings. By this, I mean taking real life situations, and rebirthing them in cartoon form on paper with a dash of surrealism. But yeah, cartoons, colour palettes, stories, dreams are also things that are a surface influence for me also.

What’s your favourite part of your body and why?

On an exterior level - I think it’s my little lips, they do all the talking and the smiling and give expression when I’m listening and talking to others. But most of all my brain. I guess because it’s wired a little differently, and helped me create and carve my identity.

What’s your idea of empowerment?

I’m kind of into self-empowerment. Doing something for you that means you will break the restraints that you put on yourself. For me personally, the battle is always internal. Whether it’s self-doubt that you can do something or worrying that you’re not enough to achieve your goals. Putting yourself out there whether it be photos, poetry, stories or art. Really feeling like you have something to say, and not giving five shits about what others might think. It’s an extension of your soul. It’s a part of who you are. That’s empowerment to me.

Where have been your favourite places to travel and have those places influenced your work?

Japan! I’ve been 5 times, and each year I feel lost if I haven’t been in a while. It’s like a real life grown-up wonderland. You can do anything, be anyone and take in so much inspiration around you while you’re there. Whenever I’m feeling creatively zapped, going to Japan is an instant system reboot. I can’t explain it. My soul just feels full again.

Have you been met with any challenges as an artist along the way?

Always finding a balance between art life and real life. Because my work is so time-consuming, and I have so many ideas in my head it’s hard because I just want to do them all at once and find I become a hermit if I dedicate too much time creating. But if I spend too much time socializing I feel a little flustered and guilty for not drawing.

How do you keep up your creative momentum? Where do you look to for the drive to create?

Oh man, it’s a bit of a stop start process, to be honest. Sometimes when the stars are aligned my creativity will flourish and I can’t get enough drawings/ideas out quick enough. Other times my mind is a barren wasteland with no sign of life. I think for me I just have to go with what my body wants. If my brain can’t sleep and is just needing to get ideas out, I’ll stay up late. Other times, I’ll just focus on other aspects of my business until I feel ripe enough to blossom. I think it’s important to constantly be creating. Even if it’s a shitty little 20 minute drawing each morning. You have to do something to keep your mind active. A drawing a day keeps creative block away.

What does body confidence mean to you? Is it something you’ve ever struggled with and why? And as you’ve gotten older – how has your perception of your body and confidence changed? 

It kind of means everything. If I’m happy in my skin, I’m happy in other aspects of my life. I’ve always been a little awkward with my body shape perhaps because as girls we’re bought up on media that portrays women as sex symbols. Beauty was emulated as a blonde haired, blue eyed, size 6 tanned women with double d’s. There is nothing wrong with that, but if you don’t fit that prototype, it affects your self-image. From 23 on I started to feel really comfortable in my skin. I guess I saw beauty in so many other ways that it made me realise the media diet we were fed as kids was actually bullshit. You can be different shapes and sizes from different ethnic backgrounds and be beautiful. I didn’t have to follow this pre-determined idea of what beauty was, I could wear what I want, look how I want, and it was more about showing my personality on the outside of my skin. And that’s how I became more confident – by being me.  

Do you tend to create from personal experience or from observing the experiences of others?

Personal experience. Dreams, conversations, stories within stories. Most of my characters that I draw are based on real people. I think my brain catalogues things. It takes the things I’ve experienced personally and visually then collages it in my brain, mixing it about. Then at the end of the day, I take all that and put it down on paper. Sometimes it doesn’t make sense, or I think people won’t get it. But I’m always shocked when people just understand or say my work speaks to them.

Your work is very female/body inspired - also using your own body a lot – have you ever struggled with those inspiration and references affecting your body image perception? Do you think social media has played a positive or negative role in your perception?

I think social media is used for good and evil. As far as body image goes I think it’s been a good tool. Different profiles of women across the world have helped us break the stereotype of what we class as ‘beautiful’ in society. I find myself admiring different types of strong women with diverse personalities and physical traits. I look at girls who aren’t afraid to show themselves online, and it gave me the push I’d been needing to put more of myself into my work. I’d always sat back and say ‘nobody wants to see my face, how awkward, I shouldn’t do that, people will judge me’ but then I realised how absurd that notion was and went for it. I figured people would probably look at me the same way I look at other girls online (with admiration). And who knows it might help a cute girl somewhere online want to share more of herself – whether it be in photos or her art.  

What advice what you give your 18-year-old self if you could?

Don’t panic about the future, the universe has a way of panning everything out.

When drawing female figures and personalities – do you take your own body into account?

Ahaa, yesssss. The girls I draw have the same body type as me – big head, small boobs + waist and thick thighs and hips. They say most artist’s look like their work. I kind of feel like my work is both mine and someone else's thought. Like a holy union between the person looking at the work and the one creating it. Lots of girls see themselves in my illustrations – in a sense this human connection is made through my art.

Praise You isn’t just about raising awareness for eating disorders and celebrating body positivity – it’s also shining the light on female support in the creative community, in saying that, what does inclusivity and its importance mean to you?

Girls supporting girls is super important. People open up like beautiful flowers when they have the slightest bit of praise poured on them. By telling the women you support that what they do / who they are matters actually helps them bloom. That support and inclusivity actually helps them in a huge way.

INSTAGRAM: @dizzylittledotty
WEBSITE: www.etsy.com/au/shop/dizzylittledotty 

Praise You 2017Alex Saba