Q&A with Beautiful Bodies Art founder, Leah Bedford!
In our latest Q&A, we’re speaking with London-based artist, Leah Bedford, who is celebrating women in all their glory via her diverse and empowering Beautiful Bodies Art account on Instagram! We’re talking about how it all got started, the reasons why painting and being painted are both valuable ways of increasing your body confidence, and more!
Britain Uncovered: Hi Leah! It was back in February that you officially opened your Beautiful Bodies Art account, and it’s been great seeing your work evolving in the weeks and months since! How did this all come to be, and what were some of your initial goals and aspirations when launching the account?
Leah: Thank you so much. It genuinely started off as a hobby – I was painting with my daughter early last year and I forgot how much I missed it. Creativity plays a huge role in my household, and not a day goes by where we don’t have the paints and pens out. My children love it almost as much as I do!
I’ve always had a passion for art. I studied it in school and college, and my past jobs have been in the design industry, so it’s always been a big interest. Since being made redundant last year, I thought in my spare time I’ll do a bit of what I love and hopefully other people will enjoy seeing what I create.
My initial goal was to just to be a little creative with simple lines and a splash of colour to show how beautiful the female form is; something quite sexy and uplifting, but PG enough for it to be hung in your home. It started with simple drawings with a splash of acrylic colour, and people started asking how much I would sell my artwork for, which was just amazing! I never intended to actually sell my artwork but it kicked off straight away and I can’t thank my friends and family enough for sharing and their word of mouth, which really helped make it happen.
Britain Uncovered: Are we right in thinking that you were inspired by the excellent work of Sophie Tea, and if so, what is it about her art that left such an impression on you?
Leah: I am inspired by all of Sophie Tea’s work and so many other amazing artists on Instagram that I never would have come across if I hadn’t started my page. Sophie Tea certainly has her own style – her work is so colourful and vibrant and it really beams positivity of the female body. It’s raw and colourful and it really does leave such an impression. It’s amazing how much her artwork has helped other people all around the world.
Britain Uncovered: One of the most prominent themes throughout your work is the intent to celebrate women in all their glory and help people feel comfortable in their own skin. How important is this concept, and do you feel empowering nude art such as this can help people to feel different and more positively about themselves?
Leah: I remember the first DM I received from a lady who wanted me to paint her because she wanted to almost feel proud of her body again (FYI, she looked bloody amazing!) She had given birth to two children and wanted to see what her body looked like through someone else’s eyes. When she received her painting, it gave her a massive confidence boost and she couldn’t wait to display it, which gave us both such a buzz. I honestly believe that a bit of self-love goes a long way, and it’s not about being in love with your whole body but appreciating you for who you are.
Britain Uncovered: In general, would you consider yourself to be a relatively body confident person by and large, or is this something you still find yourself having to work at?
Leah: I wouldn’t consider myself completely body confident, as we all have our little demons at the back of our heads, but I think starting my Instagram and talking to other women about their insecurities and seeing them overcome these through art is so empowering. Every day it helps give me positive body thoughts, as opposed to starting the day on the negatives.
Britain Uncovered: Several other artists we’ve interviewed this year have noted that a by-product of creating this type of celebratory body positive art is the fact that it’s unintentionally helped themselves to feel more confident about their bodies and empowered in their own skin also. Is this something you can relate to?
Leah: Definitely! I love the fact that body confidence is having such a positive impact on us all at the moment, and I feel as though it can only get better in years to come. It’s so important to embrace all body shapes and sizes, and I genuinely think the more it’s out there to see, the better it will be for the next generations to come. We shouldn’t have to fit into one certain category; which is a concept that can be so damaging to younger girls and boys.
Britain Uncovered: Other than empowering nude art, what are some of the other ways people can go about feeling more body confident and comfortable with themselves? Is this something that the media, and as a society in general, we should be doing more to encourage?
Leah: I think it’s really important to encourage a body positive image, and I’m loving the fact we’re seeing it more on Instagram and in films, magazines, runways and pretty much everywhere! I would suggest unfollowing anything or anyone that makes you compare or question yourself though. There are a lot of filters and editing apps out there, and I admit I’m guilty of using them on Instagram on certain days; but using apps to change your body shape or change things that we dislike in general is becoming quite the norm for a lot of people. It scares me knowing how accessible these apps are going to be for our children – it’s not all as it seems, and sometimes it’s hard to separate the real from the fake.
Britain Uncovered: Is desexualising the female form an important part of your work, and if so, how important is this concept to you both in relation to your own art and in general?
Leah: I try to keep my artwork tasteful so it can be displayed in your home without offending anyone, but is still enough to give you that daily feminine confidence boost. It’s amazing being a female and it should be celebrated.
Britain Uncovered: A lot of your work is commission based, which is really great to see! How do you typically approach these to begin with, and what is the most satisfying part of creating these types of pieces? Are there any particular paintings or success stories that stand out, and that you’d be happy to share some details of?
Leah: One of my first commissions was a pregnancy nude. I remember receiving the photo and it just felt so natural talking about what we were going to create. I really try to make sure that the individual feels confident and comfortable. Initially, we talk about what style they would want (as I’m always open to trying new styles), but the majority have left it in my hands to create something for them. It’s so empowering for women to celebrate our ever-changing bodies.
Britain Uncovered: Your art is really varied, ranging from abstract art to line paintings to watercolours and beyond. How much do you enjoy experimenting with different styles like this, and would you say that minimal art is potentially your favourite?
Leah: I feel like I haven’t been an artist for a great deal of time, and I’m still experimenting every day – so every time I create something, I’m evolving in a way. I love the way some artists have one style and stick to it, but I personally like to keep trying out different styles – or maybe I just haven’t found mine yet – but I believe art is about experimenting and creating.
I would probably say I’m not the most colourful artist, and that seems to be something that’s stuck around in all my artwork. I do like to stick to black and white, purely because I like to just build on the tones and shades.
Britain Uncovered: How would you assess the ways in which your art has evolved over the past nine months, and which of your pieces would you consider to be among your favourites?
Leah: My favourites are my ladies! All of my commission pieces tell a story and I’m so grateful that they have come to me to have a piece of art created. Honestly, it gives me a buzz knowing that I have created a piece of art that they are wanting to display in their homes and keep forever.
Britain Uncovered: In addition to the beautiful bodies you’re creating, you’ve also put together a really strong collection of animal portraits during the course of the year. How much enjoyment do you get from these pieces, and how would compare and contrast these works with your body-related paintings?
Leah: I love sketching animals, and seeing these come together at the end makes it all worthwhile. I’ve only recently started experimenting with painting animals and I do really enjoy it. I’ve noticed it does seem to be a trend – nudes and animals is a vibe, and I’m all for it!
Britain Uncovered: Finally, what words of encouragement or advice would you offer to those who aren’t feeling particularly body confident or positive about themselves at present?
Leah: I wouldn’t even say it’s all about being body confident – it’s about trying something that you think you can’t do and giving it a go. Whether that's getting yourself sketched or painted and feeling amazing afterwards, or perhaps even trying art yourself to see what you could create; it's so powerful and maybe you might help someone to overcome an insecurity?
To see more of Leah's fabulous art and to keep tabs on her artistic journey, feel free to follow her over on Instagram at @beautifulbodies_art. You can also purchase a selection of the artist's work via her Etsy channel by clicking here.