1-on-1: Hilde Atalanta

Skandl’s 1-on-1 series is where we interview creatives who inspire us with their bold approaches to creative work. For this post, we speak with portraitist and illustrator Hilde Atalanta, who depicts the intimate, the sexual and the loving in styles that aim to be both diverse and inclusive.

Hi Hilde, your painting style is very striking, how did that develop and what are your major influences?

I’m an autodidact, and I started working as an illustrator 2.5 years ago, so I have to admit everything still feels quite fresh and new to me. In this period my style has been developing quite a lot (and I’m positive it will keep on developing in the coming years). I’ve always been drawn to very realistic styles, and in my portrait work that’s something that satisfies me a lot. Although I’m not working in a hyper-realistic style, I do love portraying individuals in a realistic way. I’m inspired by many different artists; I love browsing images on Instagram and see how others work or develop their styles. And when I was younger I always loved seeing portraits from the classic and romantic eras.

How did you develop the different styles for your other two major projects, The Vulva Gallery and the You’re Welcome Club, and what was your decision making process for choosing watercolours for TVG and clean, cartoon lines for the YWC?

The style for The Vulva Gallery developed gradually. It started with very simple, almost minimalist, illustrations. But, as I’m drawn to painting details and realism, during the past two years of The Vulva Gallery the illustrations have developed a lot and the commissioned vulva portraits have become quite realistic. Still, I want to keep them light, colorful and simple as this makes them more easily translatable to one’s own body – and it makes the illustrations suitable for all ages.


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✨ Dyspareunia Awareness Post ✨ Dyspareunia is a persistent or recurrent pain in the genitalia experienced just before, during or after intercourse. The intensity and duration of pain varies among individuals. Some individuals only experience pain during sexual penetration (with a penis); others also experience pain when they try to insert a tampon or a finger. The pain can be experienced around the vaginal opening, or it may be felt as deep pain during thrusting (in sexual intercourse). Also the kind of pain that is experienced varies among individuals; for some it feels like a burning or aching kind of pain, for others it can feel like a stabbing or throbbing kind of pain – sometimes lasting for hours after intercourse. Dyspareunia can be lifelong or acquired (due to sexual trauma, or for example by continuing sex while experiencing discomfort or pain), and it may be related to physical or psychological factors (or a combination of both). It can happen that you experience pain with one partner, and not with another partner; or for example that sex with yourself is pain-free but with a partner it’s painful. It may or may not be related to vaginismus (involuntary contraction of the vaginal muscles, which can make sex painful). For many individuals dyspareunia leads to a lowered interest in sex or even aversion to sex. The anticipation of pain makes any sexual interaction uninteresting or even impossible to think about. Individuals with dyspareunia may find it difficult to talk about their condition, perhaps because they feel ashamed discussing problems related to their vulvar area, or because the condition is not very well known and understood. If you have vulvodynia, know that you aren’t alone, there are many others who are going through the same thing and who are open to listening to your story and sharing their knowledge with you. For more information about dyspareunia, as well as support groups, go to thevulvagallery.com/useful-websites✨ . . . #thevulvagallery #dyspareunia #vulvarpain #vulva #labia #vagina #gynaecology #vulvadiversity #sexeducation #letstalkaboutit #genderinclusivity #watercolorillustration #vulvapositivity #hildeatalanta

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Are the illustrations as part of the You’re Welcome Club based on people you know, strangers, or from your imagination?

They are a combination of all three. Sometimes I portray my friends, sometimes I portray strangers, and many times I create based on my imagination. And I’m also open for commissions, so I’m creating portraits of individuals from all around the world on a commission basis as well.

In M/Magnetic and Hiding you used blocks of colour to obscure parts of the people you have painted, while in other places you’re happy to show bodies without any privacy. What is the relationship between showing and not showing in your working process?

M/Magnetic is a series of homo-erotic portraits. Unlike in the traditional male-female interactions in porn, this series started from the feeling that seemed to be more equality and respect among sexual partners in gay pornography. I became fascinated by the sexual interactions that felt more genuine than usual male/female interactions. They are clearly staged as well. Behind the macho appearance there was a feeling of tenderness, vulnerability, and mutual respect.

For M/Magnetic, I partly focused on tender interactions, and partly of close-ups of faces in anticipation for cum shots. Somehow this moment of anticipation felt so intimate, where one person is almost reaching their climax, and in the softness of the other’s face time stands still for a while. The reason for covering up their genitals with a brush stroke was to focus the attention on the intimate interaction and to leave room for the imagination. Contrary to M/Magnetic‘s focus on sexual interactions, both The Vulva Gallery and You’re Welcome Club are explicitly non-sexual series, which gave me no reason to cover up any of their bodies as they are an open portrayal of natural variety.

What are your plans for the near future?

I’m planning on making a book with The Vulva Gallery, which will be a collection of illustrations, personal stories, anatomy, debunking myths and all kinds of wonders about the vulva. I can’t tell you much about it yet, but keep an eye on my Instagram account and you’ll find out more very soon!


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This is the third of 5 illustrations I made in collaboration with @instagram, portraying five amazing individuals who raised their voices in support of the LGBTQ community; discussions around mental health and recovery; sex and body positivity; and women’s collectives. • • • The third community member I portrayed is @ohareeba. Areeba Siddique is a 19-year-old Pakistani woman who shares her view on art, culture, and women empowerment. She makes lovely illustrations in which she shares her thoughts and feelings about what it means to her to be a modern muslim woman. • • • Dimensions: graphite, watercolour, gouache and black ink on 360 grams paper | 30 x 40 cm / 11.81" x 15.75" | 2017 • • • #IGyearinreview #ohareeba #instagramyearinreview #instagram #instagram2017 #instagramcommunity #muslimah #hijab #hijabfashion #diversity #inclusivity #celebratediversity #bodypositive #bodydiversity #queerart #illustration #illustrationoftheday #portraitoftheday #graphiteart #watercolorportrait #watercolor #hildeatalanta

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