self care

A Lesson in Art & Self-Love With Quinn Rockliff

May 20, 2020
Team Knix

To celebrate the launch of the new Knix Nudes Collectionwe reached out to one of our favorite artists Quinn Rockliff for a very special art lesson. An interdisciplinary feminist artist based in Toronto, Quinn often focuses on nude self-portraits as a way to contemplate sexuality and reclamation through representation. 

(all photos by @quinnrockliff)

In a virtual art-class (a first for all!), Quinn walked the Knix Community through her method of capturing herself through her artwork. With a quick flick of a marker that never left the page, Quinn magically procured a drawing that perfectly captured the curves and lines that make her her. 

When teaching us to draw our bodies, the rules were completely up to us. Her one suggestion? Start with a part of your body that stands out to you, for whatever reason. Maybe it's a part you already love, maybe it's a part that needs a little extra love—but start somewhere intentional. 

We sat down with Quinn to learn about how she got started, why capturing nudes is powerful, and how self-love and honesty is something valuable and celebratory. Meet Quinn Rockliff. 

Much of your work is self-portraiture. Can you tell us how you got started with that? Why do you think it stuck?

I started drawing nude self-portraits as a means to reclaim my body. With no experience in art and desperate to find a way to see myself, I began to draw my body again and again until it felt like mine. I was in the second year of university and found myself spending all my free time drawing self-portraits. During this time I developed a style I still use today that relies on fast movements and a single line to represent my body.   

In the 15 or so seconds it takes me to draw a nude I can see and reflect on so much with a single line. My hand often moves faster than my brain and allows me to see myself honestly before the external forces creep in. I love that I can connect all the aspects of my body with a single line. The line reveals the channels my body uses to connect to itself.  

My favourite curves and lines come from the most unassuming places: my collarbone, the link between my belly button and hip, my elbow. As we’re so often reminded, self-love isn’t a decision that happens in a single moment or on a single day, it’s a constant choice and it’s constant work. For me, drawing my body every day allows me to take the necessary time to see how I’m feeling. Some days the curves and lines that shape my body are filled with confidence, on other days self-doubt, on most days a combination of the two. Recognizing the value and potential for beauty in the tension between self-doubt and confidence - two things that are often placed in opposition as “good” or “bad” - is the most valuable lesson I’ve learned from drawing self-portraits. 

We think there’s lots of power in women documenting themselves. In what ways does your art play a role in documenting your own growth and power?

I couldn’t agree more. When I take the time to draw myself, I’m in charge of how my body is represented and how it is seen. I spent a lot of my life feeling like the only time I was allowed to appreciate my own body was through the eyes of someone else. I felt the constant expectation to be both sexy and modest, confident but not cocky, vulnerable but not overly emotional. I felt exhausted. As a young woman, these contradicting expectations left me feeling paralyzed and scared to say what I really felt. My art gave me a way to talk about things I didn’t know how to put into words. I was able to represent myself by capturing my hesitations and fears.

I see power in being unsure, in being exhausted by unrealistic expectations, in saying out loud that I’m not sure how to be in a world that is constantly requiring me to be all of those things at once. Being emotional, feeling sexy, looking at my body and seeing how it serves me, - not through the perspective of someone else but completely my own - is so powerful. 

What inspires you?

My art is inspired by conversations with friends, things people have said that made me feel small, things I wish I had said back, mistakes I’ve made, moments of self-love, moments of self-doubt, small reminders of things changing for the better, vulnerable people, things I’m embarrassed by but know I shouldn’t be, the way my leg hair catches the light and sparkles, the way I used to hate my leg hair, taking a break when I need to, saying sorry, saying I’m not sorry, and of course tulips. 

Brag about yourself. What are you the most proud of? What do you love most about yourself? 

I’m proud of my choice to be vulnerable online. There’s always this moment before I post a piece and caption where I wonder if I’m the only one who will resonate with what I’m talking about. I always find the writing I have the most fear surrounding ends up resonating with others the most. Growing up with social media, I believed that the only way for me to get attention online was for the way I looked. I thought that the more I emulated models and influencers the more I would be validated. But the day I let that go and became transparent about my fears, mistakes, and frustrations online was the day I finally felt seen. The likes or engagement didn’t even really matter anymore, what mattered was that I put myself out there in a way that actually excited/terrified me. 

quinn rockcliff

I’m not sure what gave me that initial confidence to share my art online, to speak openly about my practice and the questions it raises, but I’m really glad it happened. If you would have told 15-year-old me desperately trying to take the perfect picture for selfie Sunday that my most popular posts would be the ones where I talk about discharge and pubic hair I’d have thought you’d lost it. But I’m so glad I have a community online that gives me space to be vulnerable, because talking about things we have been taught to be ashamed of is one of the most powerful and impactful things I think I can do as an artist and young woman. 

(Quinn in the Wingwoman and Leakproof Thong from our Nudes Collection)

You can check out more of Quinn's work here and follow her journey on Instagram too. Trying your hand at a self portrait? Tag @quinnrockliff and @knixwear. We'd love to see. 

Shop the full Knix Nudes Collection here with 5 new shades inspired by the Knix Community.