Small Business of the Week: Ambivalently Yours

I am completely, one million percent in love with Ambivalently Yours. This is a Glaswegian Artist who runs a brilliant design business where her illustrative work is sold in the form of clothing and homeware as well as through the traditional medium of art prints. Her products include everything from iphone cases to pillow cases. Im a real sucker for intricate, gorgeous illustrations and these captivated me at once. All huge eyes, cats and surreal many headed women; all acutely feminine imagery. However, her work isn’t just visually appealing. Ambivalently Yours transcends the uses of traditional illustration work to create a thought provoking, activist project.       

Ambivalently Yours shows that fashion and design can be political and that pink doesn’t have to mean passive. Indeed, the colour pink, typically a colour used to designate and girlify girls, is reclaimed here as a feisty and rebellious shade. Her work is unashamedly “pretty” and “cute” in an aesthetic sense but completely redefines this with humour and with bold feminist statements.   The talented yet mysterious Designer has made the choice to remain anonymous yet her personality and passions shine through. Much of her work is inspired by queer theory, with her designs exploring gay rights and transgender issues. She questions issues within feminism such as the supposed disparity between mainstream femininity and radical feminism.  

Her work is also really confessional which as a Writer I of course love. In a design move that references and celebrates Zine culture, Illustration and slogans mix seamlessly. Words are just as important here as the images and will resonate with so many women who are struggling to define themselves and a socially recognisable identity. In this sense, her designs are an openly defiant stand against categorization, against being defined through a male gaze. As the business title suggests, these designs explore the often confusing of modern womanhood and creativity and the general feelings of “ambivalence”, inbetweens and contradictions that this can entail. The idea that priding yourself on being a feminist can be construed as an insult by many. The idea that your personal enjoyment of food is so inextricably tied up with feelings of guilt and public enjoyment.  Each design is a complex essay within itself.

The designs are also deeply personal and are inspired by the Designer’s decision to “embrace” her contradictions. Ambivalently Yours was borne out of a frustration of being split between two apparently contradictory worlds. Ambivalently Yours began her signature designs whilst studying feminist art and at the same time working in the fashion industry which at the time felt to be two opposing worlds requiring separate identities.   

Ambivalently Yours describes her art as “deeply comforting” which I feel is a much more accurate description than she realises. I indeed find it comforting that fashion and feminism can be coexist as separate, non confrontational parts of one identity. I find it comforting that Ambivalently Yours proves that it is possible to reclaim things such as the colour pink and girly imagery and make it fierce. Most of all, I am comforted by the fact that Ambivalently Yours openly promotes the idea of unfinishedness, of imperfection and undecidedness and shows these traits to be beautiful.    

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