‘Learning By (Doing ) It’ is an anonymous, open-ended space that gives room for humane stories, diverse experiences and honest voices on the topic of sex.

In this space, sex is ()


Kissi Ussuki on focusing on human emotions and bodies

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Kissi Ussuki
Personal work, ©Kissi Ussuki
Personal work, ©Kissi Ussuki

MKCan you tell me a bit about what you’ve worked on recently and how you’re enjoying the currently running projects?

KUSince I work not only with illustration but also with video-making and photography projects, right now I’m in the video phase where I’m in the post-production stage of two music videos. One of them is shot on 16mm film which was a new and very exciting experience for me so I’m quite proud about it. Spending a lot of time on video work and looking at the screen makes me miss illustration a lot so I hope I’ll soon have time to sit down with my paint and brushes and make something new because I have loads of ideas buzzing in my head.

MKDo you work with certain specific topics in your work and if so, what would those topics be? Were you interested in these topics before you started your practice or have they been naturally shaped through client / personal requests over time?

KUIn my practice I like to focus on human beings, their bodies as well as their emotions. Judging from my childhood drawings people and their portraits have always been my main passion, partially because I can draw inspiration from myself, from how I feel, and partially because each human being is unique, different and is an endless source of most random traits, mental and physical.

Personal work, ©Kissi Ussuki
Monthly Illustrations for Tinder Germany, ©Kissi Ussuki

MKHas your illustration style evolved since your earlier work? If so, how?

KUYes, it has and it’s always evolving. At the very beginning I tended to draw just the human heads and had a very limited colour palette and now I’m exploring more different and detailed scenarios and try out different colour combinations.

MKAs an illustrator, are there any causes or values that you are passionate about and aim to express them through your work or the way you work?

KUI like to celebrate female bodies in my work. And I like to make them strong and curvy!

MKHow did you like the structure of the brief of Learning By Doing It — having to listen to an anonymous recording that was intimate in its topic and medium?

KUIt was the first time I had a brief like this, and it felt intimate yet strangely comfortable to listen to people's stories, as if a friend was telling me about their experiences. Also, since it was related to a sensitive and personal topic, I felt a lot of responsibility in depicting the stories.

Editorial illustrations for Closed Magazine, ©Kissi Ussuki
Editorial Illustrations for Dame Products, ©Kissi Ussuki

Kissi "I wish that this topic was not so taboo, and that the education system would treat it as a regular subject, much like mathematics or biology, without any shame attached to it."

MKWhat was your sexual education like and if there’s anything you would like to change about our current system of sexual education, what would it be?

KUSexual education was non-existent in my school, or in pretty much the whole country. I believe this situation has not improved significantly since then, as our society remains quite conservative, and the belief that "if we don't talk about it, children won't engage in it" persists. I wish that this topic was not so taboo, and that the education system would treat it as a regular subject, much like mathematics or biology, without any shame attached to it.

Editorial Illustration for The New York Times, ©Kissi Ussuki

MKAt your current stage in life, what would you like to learn on the topic of sex and relationships?

KUI am deeply interested in the topic of relationships and sex, and I find inspiration from it. Recently, I purchased a book on erotic art that spans from ancient Greece to 20th century erotic photos, and I am planning to use some ideas from it to create a series of illustrations that are a bit more risqué. Additionally, I have been meaning to read "Sex at Dawn" for a while, as I am particularly interested in understanding the historical and evolutionary perspectives on sex and relationships.

MKIf you had to teach your younger self one valuable lesson on the topic of sex, what would it be?

KUBe less prude, haha.

written: Feb 9 2023

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