Gettin’ Body Positive and Having a Laugh with Local Graphic Designer, Linny Malin

Linny Malin is an illustrator and graphic designer from the UK who is currently living in Vancouver. She’s also my most sharp-witted, humble and talented friend! Her self-described “body positive press”, frootitooti, took off after Malin challenged herself to create a body positive image each day while participating in Elle Luna’s 100 Day Project a couple of years ago. She very recently began to print her personal illustrations so you definitely won’t want to miss her Eastside Flea debut on February 10th. Read on to learn more about this awesome lady…

Tell me about where you grew up. I was born and raised in the Somerset countryside in a little village called Wrington, then ended up in Bristol city before coming out here…

How did you end up in Vancouver? My folks moved out to Salt Spring Island in the early 2000’s. After spending a long, warm summer out there living the Canadian dream of canoeing, swimming in lakes and watching shooting stars I decided to move out to Vancouver after graduating art school.

What is your art background/education? I went to Winchester School of Art for my Diploma in Fine Art and then did my BA(Hons) in Fashion Design in Bristol where I specialized in illustration and textiles (and raving). I didn’t pursue Fashion but later took a course in Electronic Media Design and started working at a boutique design agency before freelancing as a graphic designer.

What is your current neighbourhood and what makes it “home”? I live in Gastown and I feel very at home in the coffee shops and bars around here. Also being able to nip over to Crab Park is great.

Your neighbourhood haunt? Birds and the Beets and Alibi Room.

3 favourite spots for people-watching? Wreck Beach, Chinatown, Vancouver Public Library.

Favourite rainy day activity? If it’s raining in the summer I love swimming outside but in the winter I choose warmth, a fireplace, glass of wine and good company.

What does “frootitooti” mean? Body shapes and parts are often referred to as types fruits such as apples, pears, peaches and cherries so that’s loosely what it relates to. Admittedly I didn’t put a lot of thought into it. I just like the way it sounds.

Describe frootitooti in ten words or less. I only need one: Woke. Just kidding: fun, inclusive, encouraging, light-hearted, non-judgemental and hopefully liberating.

Your work has a great sense of humour to it…what makes you laugh? Mannerisms and behaviour.

What reaction do you hope to illicit from your artwork? Ideally, to make people feel more at ease with themselves, others and life, and not to take things too seriously.

Who is the funniest person you know? My dad is a very witty and quirky person.

When do you feel the most confident? When I stop caring so much about what other people think.

How do you stay positive? That depends on whether you mean British or North American positive. I think I’m fairly positive for a Brit but since moving to Canada I realize our nations have very different levels of “pep”. I don’t believe you have to be positive all the time and welcome healthy realism but I’m also culturally conditioned to be suspicious of people who are too positive. So I might not be the best person to ask…

I’ve been my happiest and most productive when taking a chance on something interesting and often unconventional.

A lot (most?) of your subjects are either naked or scantily clad…what clothing (or lack of) do you feel most comfortable in? The least revealing thing I own, which is a thermal button-up onesie.

You’ve just recently started trying your hand at different applications for your art, such as t-shirts, cards, pins, etc. What spurred that decision? I like the idea of creating things that people use or can communicate with. I’m also a big fan of snail mail.

How important is branding to you? Very. I love how branding and identity evolves in how it connects with an audience. These days activism is what sells, not sex. Given the choice people are much more inclined to invest in a brand that reflects their own values.

Who is your biggest inspiration? I deeply admire Paula Scher, who has been and still is a very influential designer. When talking about process she reminds people of the importance of finding play and embracing failure in your work. Often that is lost the more experienced you become in a creative profession. She’s also a timelessly cool person.

Tell me about something weird that inspired you recently? A wooden table top at Luppolo – you can often find little creatures in the shapes of knots and grain of wood. I can quickly get distracted by table surfaces and anything, actually.

A tool you can’t live without? I was gifted a Palomino Blackwing pencil once and it really is a dream to doodle with.

A tool that doesn’t currently exist but that you wish did? A bracelet that gives you a buzz when you get too sassy and should really stop talking. Basically my mother in a bracelet, which is a terrible idea.

Something you do when you need to ‘kickstart’ your creativity? Give myself time, go to a coffee shop and just start drawing.

How important is separation of working and living space to you? It’s much healthier to separate spaces but I often end up drawing in bed, which is not a great habit.

A piece of advice that you regret taking? Go to school for something that will guarantee you a job. I initially went to university to be an educational psychologist, which was interesting but it wasn’t right and I felt a bit lost for a while. I’ve been my happiest and most productive when taking a chance on something interesting and often unconventional. I believe having stability at certain times in your life is helpful to allow for growth in others, but would advise my younger, scatter-brained self to pursue the things you love because you’ll always end up returning to those things sooner or later. It might as well be sooner.

How has your creative process changed since you started?
It’s more relaxed. I’m hustling less as my livelihood doesn’t solely depend on it anymore so I feel I can be more explorative with styles and mediums.

Where would you like to see frootitooti in one year? Five? I’d like to explore more traditional print making techniques, textiles and recycled materials to create more interesting clothing and home decor items.

A current daydream playing in heavy rotation in your mind? Living in an old farmhouse in a warm climate with a large outdoor dining area for big feasts and lots of studio space to create work and hold workshops.

Something that you are horrible at? First impressions; a smokey eye.

A hidden talent? Accents.

Three favourite artists/designers of all time? Jenny Saville is a wonderful painter and drawer. Paul Rand is just great. I really admire Steve Powers‘ ability to connect with people and create such uplifting and accessible art/signs in urban environments, which is where we need it the most.

How do you pay the bills? I work at Lush HO as production artist and freelance.

If you weren’t making illustrations, what would you be doing? Learning how to dance.

Your personal “anthem”? I never get tired “Praise You” by Fatboy Slim and it’s cracking video.

An under-used colour, in your opinion? Cornflower blue.

A material you’d like to use but haven’t? Recyled plastics or metal would be interesting.

Your favourite thing about Vancouver? How you can cycle anywhere safely and are never far away from anything.

Your least favourite thing about Vancouver? The social divide. Aaaaaand rent.

A dream collaboration? A line of socks with Noel Fielding.

Would you rather go forward or backwards in time? To what era and why? Maybe the late 1800’s/early 1900’s when motion film was developing. That must have been magical.

A guilty pleasure? 80s power ballads.

Your favourite meal in Vancouver? I dig a good gnocchi.

Tell me something about yourself that will surprise me. Prince Andrew lightly touched my butt when I was his waitress.

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