Beach season can be fraught with messaging about our bodies. Fashion magazine covers scream competing imperatives. “Dare to go bare!” “7 days to your best bikini body!” “Rock your curves!” and “The best suits for your shape!” Peruse a few on your way to the shore and you might arrive in a full-blown state of panic.
But over on Instagram, Frances Cannon’s illustrations of nude and nearly-nude women are imbued with serenity and strength all year round.
The Melbourne-based artist creates large and delicate figures with lines that invite and soothe. The messaging is gentle but invigorating. You already matter, the portraits seem to whisper, and Cannon wants you to know it.
According to Cannon, her art is largely self-referential. Cannon told the Daily Dot, “Most of my work is self-portraiture and based on personal emotions and events in my life—that’s why most of the drawings look like me.”
But look closer and you’ll find that Cannon’s art is radically inclusive. Cannon creates celebratory and reverent portraits of everyone from women of color, to trans women, to women with disabilities.
“I like to include as much diversity as I can,” said Cannon. “Representation is so important.”
The result is a feed that is both comforting and thrilling.
Cannon addresses taboo topics such as body hair.
As well as masturbation.
And grief and mental health struggles.
Cannon’s illustrations are never didactic, but she doesn’t shy away from the political. On International Women’s Day, Cannon offered her followers a gorgeous inclusive portrait of women.
And when the rights of trans kids came under attack earlier this spring, Cannon created portraits advocating for their protection.
Of course, like many women on the internet, Cannon has encountered her share of trolls. “[It surprises me when] people are mean. But that shouldn’t surprise me… being online and having a large following means that you are more likely to encounter trolls. And trolls suck.”
But Cannon doesn’t let the trolls get her down, choosing to focus instead on her incredible followers and supporters. She added, “I love the people that interact with my work on a daily basis. There are some people that have been following and supporting my work for years and they are so special to me! I rely on them heavily.”
And it’s no wonder Cannon has amassed over 100,000 followers. It’s near impossible to scroll through her messages of confidence, sisterhood, and support, and not feel just a little more at peace with the world.
Cannon also designs custom tattoos.
And offers prints of her work for sale in her online store.
Cannon also uses her message of power and hope to support charitable causes, like this print she auctioned off last January at a “love trumps hate” benefit.
But perhaps what’s most inspiring about Canon’s work is her candid honesty about moments of discomfort. Canon neither elevates her sadness nor denies her happiness in moments of celebration. She simply makes room for both.
Following a November art showing of honors students (Cannon graduated with honors last year from RMIT University), she posted a smiling portrait of herself with her work and wrote, “It’s been a rough year for many reasons. For me, my anxiety was the worst it’s been (particularly midway through the year). But we all came out with such beautiful strong work, despite the difficulties that life threw at us. Congrats everyone!”