Here at SYSCA, we want to counter the endless amounts of shit chat plaguing the planet and cut to the good shit. To do this, we're picking the inner corners of the brains of some cool people doing cool shit, and there sure are plenty of them. And this our friends, is our interview series, “Shit Chat.”
If you’re an instagram user, you’ve probably seen the work of Bonnie Brown aka @studio.bon. And if you haven’t - you should. Based in Wellington, Bonnie is not only an incredible illustrator, but also the co-founder of Counter Journal - a quarterly magazine that features content from New Zealand and beyond, with “an aim to share the most interesting stories you never knew you wanted to read; along with beautiful photography and illustration.”
Bonnie’s work is taking the online and print world by storm, and we can see why. Imagine being in your 20’s and having your own magazine, and having collaborations with Superette, Miss FQ, Innocent Packaging, Avene and so many more sick projects in your portfolio. Well, this gal has.
Since pictures speak a thousand words, and they certainly seem to be Bonnie’s forte, let me just show you what she’s about:
A Shit Chat with Bonnie Brown AKA @studio.bon
SYSCA: What shit do you care about right now?
Bon: Okay, so I had a carefully prepared answer for this question and then the Alabama bill passed and I am just feeling overwhelmingly sad and angry. It is terrifying that this choice can be taken away from women and it’s really difficult to put into words the impact this has. If anything I’m glad the dialogue around abortion and a woman’s choice is happening and that hopefully this will lead to change. Alongside that, I’m really passionate about sex education, consent and challenging rape culture, particularly here in Aotearoa. I think a lot of the time we have a really shitty ‘boys will be boys’ attitude here that needs to be challenged.
SYSCA: If you could nominate one person from your Instagram feed to replace Trump, who would it be and why?
Bon: Deja Foxx. I recently found her Instagram after seeing her in the Vice Conservatives and Progressives Debate Feminism video. She calls out the privilege one woman held to be able to vote for Trump “as a joke” and I knew she was someone I immediately needed to be following in my life. At 16 she went viral for questioning Republican senator Jeff Flake about the order to defund Planned Parenthood in the US. She led a comprehensive campaign for extensive sex education in her hometown. She has experienced homelessness first hand. To quote her Instagram, Deja is an “Activist. Organizer. Future POTUS. Badass” and she’s only 19! If we had more people like Deja, from diverse backgrounds with an inherent understanding of what poverty really looks like in our communities and the impact politics actually has on these communities, then our governments would be in a better position to serve everyone.
SYSCA: What’s the point of what you’re doing, what legacy do you want to leave on the world?
Bon: Sometimes I worry that my career is quite self-indulgent—I mean, I get the luxury of getting to draw for a living! But then I get a message from someone who my work has resonated with and I'm reminded that illustration can play an important part in breaking down barriers of what can be quite confronting topics. Engaging with subjects like sexual abuse, racism, domestic violence and abortion (to name a few) can be extremely difficult, particularly when you're coming from a place of not knowing much about it. Sometimes illustration can help to break down these barriers and illustrate (for lack of a better word) the topic in a way that is easier to understand at any level. Other times illustration can be an opportunity to forget about the dire state of the world and just look at something pretty. I hope that my legacy strikes a balance between the two.
SYSCA: The world is a pretty dark place right now, since superheroes don’t exist what do you think is going to save the world?
I’m constantly in awe of the next generation. Teenagers like Greta Thunberg give me hope that maybe we can save the world!
SYSCA: Who do you think we should have our next shit chat with, and why?
Jess Molina (@jessmolina). Storyteller, magazine editor turned actor & tv host, writer and hotel reviewer (can you tell I rely on Instagram bios to sum up a person yet?) Jess is just generally the sort of person I love to see pop up on my feed. She isn’t afraid to speak her mind about tough and often confronting topics; she’s always out at some amazing restaurant; and her sense of style is incredible. Just genuinely a cool person, doing cool things who you should definitely have a shit chat with.