Simone Whitlock 1

Simone Whitlock shows off a piece of intricate ink work.

Simone Aulling Whitlock is a 24-year-old visual artist from Sioux City.

She is a feminist and she helps manage her girlfriend’s music project, Her Grace (Grace Claeys). You can find her art on Instagram @sawsketches.

Weekender: Who or what are some of your inspirations for visual art?

Whitlock: “My dad, Donald Whitlock and my aunt, Jodi Whitlock. Other than that I like to look at other Sioux City artists like Jessica Hammond – she’s one of my favorites. I also like to look at Instagram because there are so many artists that I have found that are phenomenal. I draw a lot of inspiration from women, bugs and bones. I collect bones and bugs in the spring and summer and use them in my art. Sometimes people even bring me bones and bugs they have found.”

Simone Whitlock Picnic

"Picnic." A mini sculpture by Simone Whitlock featuring two locust shells enjoying a soda together.

Weekender: What got you into the morbid side of art?

Whitlock: “I find it fascinating. I think death is kind of pretty and bones are underappreciated most of the time. It’s really cool to see the beauty of it after death.”

Weekender: What is your favorite medium?

Whitlock: “Ink. I prefer to draw. I like doing sculptures, but I mainly stick to ink. I use Micron pens. They are really nice…and expensive. I can get them so small, so it helps with all my detailed work.”

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Simone Whitlock showing an acrylic piece with a gold-painted opossum skull.

Weekender: What are some of your go-to subject matters?

Whitlock: “I’m a hardcore feminist and I think women are beautiful. The shapeliness and how they are smooth…women represent motherhood. I think of all of the changes women have gone through over the past 50 or more years. Wearing pants used to be a big deal, same with working. I can’t imagine not being able to do some of the things we are able to do today, and I want to give credit to that in a way.

“I also like to show the grosser side of people. I like focusing on darker stuff. I think it’s fun in a weird way. I think you have to be able to go into the darkness and pull something good out of it. A lot of people are afraid of that. I like to make dark things because a lot of people feel dark all the time, whether it has to do with mental health or having issues with their identity. I sometimes even focus on drug abuse. I’m not trying to romanticize it by any means, but I think it can be hauntingly pretty.”

Simone Whitlock 2

An inked raccoon-human hybrid by Simone Whitlock.

Weekender: How long have you been creating art?

Whitlock: “Ever since I can remember. It was bred into me."

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Weekender: What is your creative process?

Whitlock: “There’s two different ways. The first way is I just space out and start drawing stuff. Once I’m done and end up liking it, I find out what I was feeling while working on the piece.

“Sometimes I use references from other pictures, say, of women doing things. I’ll then do whatever I want to the piece.

“Another thing I like to do is called stippling (making a series of small dots into a realistic-looking picture). It takes a long time, but it is super fun. After doing that for hours I have to stop because I stop seeing in a way and don’t want to mess the piece up.”

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Ink work by Simone Whitlock.

Weekender: Why do you create art?

Whitlock: “I think art is a natural release of feelings and thoughts. It is an easy way to process things. I haven’t met anyone that likes to do math to make them feel better, but there are still some people out there that do that. Art has always been the easiest thing for me to do.”

Weekender: What kind of headspace do you have to be in to create?

Whitlock: “I can really be in any headspace but a lazy one. I can be sad, angry or happy. Music always helps, too, if I’m trying to get stuff done…I like to listen to music that fits the mood of what I’m working on. That’s one of my favorite things to do in regard to drawing things for Her Grace and other musicians like Thief in the Night. It helps give me direction.”

Weekender: Do you have to force it, or does it come naturally?

Whitlock: “It comes naturally 90 percent of the time. There’s a good 10 percent that is forced, whether that means finishing a piece or if I’m given a task and have to force myself to finish it. Doing detail work in ink, it sometimes feels like I’m frying my brain.”

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Simone Whitlock shows off a comic-style ink piece.

Weekender: What is your ultimate goal in creating art?

Whitlock: “More than half of it is just for me. It’s about pushing myself. I like to make myself do different styles so I can grow. I always want to push myself to do better so I can improve myself and be more satisfied with my work. The other part of it is I do it for respect for certain things like women and things in the news I find important."

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Ink piece by Simone Whitlock.

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