At the age of 12, Arvida Byström’s (@arvidabystrom) love of photography began to blossom. She started posting pictures on her Instagram account and taking part in a community of female artists questioning femininity and gender standards. Now, at the age of 27, the Swedish photographer, musician and model explores self-identity as a queer woman and sexualized women’s bodies within an aesthetic that is undeniably hers. As someone who’s constantly active in the digital space, Arvida explores what love and dating in the digital age mean with the OneStep+ as her creative tool—the perfect mix of analog and digital. Teaming up with us for Valentine’s Day, Arvida created a visual journey of what it means to create meaningful romance when there’s (almost) always a screen involved.
Have you heard about Arvida’s competition on our Instagram yet?
What do you think about love in the digital world? Enter the competition and tell us what you think. Here’s how…
To enter, create your own photo on your interpretation on love in the digital world and post it on your Instagram handle with the hashtag #arvidasorginals for a chance to win a OneStep+ in the fresh new white colorway, officially launching March 1st. Submissions only possible on Instagram and accepted till March 8th, 2019.
Your work touches on a number of topics including gender politics, body image, self-love and sexuality. How did you get started creating relevant feminist art?
I wouldn’t say I make feminist art per se, not because I’m not a feminist but because the reality isn’t so […] simple. However the way I make art is highly influenced by my time online. I was depressed as a teen and navigating different early [digital] social mediums was a way for me to explore and meet people similar to me. Then later I got a photography blog and eventually I started using tumblr, which has had a huge impact on how I make art, who I make art with and as a way for me to find an aesthetic and conceptual ground for my work.
As a body positive artist, how would you describe the overarching message that you want your audience to take away when they view your work?
I wouldn’t really call myself body positive, solely because I am a white cis gendered thin woman. I do really support the [movement] though, and personally when I don’t take self portraits I love photographing different body types.
When it comes to my art, I like it when it sparks curiosity. I like it when it functions on different levels so that you don’t have to be super intelectual to appreciate it, but you can also dive a little deeper in it if you are interested in those parts.
There’s a strong color scheme that runs through your work, does [the] color palette play a major role in your work?
YES. It is everything. I get a lot of questions from peers and people in the business if I ever considered trying something new and changing my aesthetics. But to me the new parts happen on the intellectual level. I have no interest in changing my aesthetic, except to me I feel like I am [changing it] — like, I am in to different pinks at different times! Visual art has to have some kind of visual to it, and I don’t get why people think I need to change it up just because I work with pink a lot.
In today’s culture online, we are given numerous platforms where we can voice our thoughts and opinions in so many different ways. What do you find important about this style of self expression?
I think it’s getting harder and harder to navigate because the Internet is getting more and more commercialized, and in that way different platforms start working as gatekeepers. If you’ve got money, you get more exposure. If you have agreeable content you get exposure, and if you don’t your art might even get taken down. This obviously fosters a very particular culture where these platforms that are essentially interested in monetary gain can indirectly decide who makes or breaks it as an artist.
I do find it as a fun, great tool though, and a way to meet human beings that you can collaborate with. And also there is definitely a little bit more wiggle room in what gets past. Coming back to body positivity and different bodies getting exposure: that definitely has changed to for the better in the past 5 years, even if there is so much more to do.
When it comes to love and dating in 2019 we often find ourselves spending a lot more time in front of our screens. How would you describe love in the digital world today?
Well, when it comes to the shoot I did about it, I started thinking, “Oh, how can I show this visually?” And then I thought about [how] Cupid is mainly a cute symbol, but also how [our] phones, with all the dating apps, are like lowkey, modern day Cupids.
I do get that the online dating isn’t for everybody, but in my experience as a straight-passing queer person, I honestly met some of my most important romantic partners online. I also kinda love trying to sext with somebody a bit before doing anything sexual [in-person], because you get a feel for what they are into and then the sex is usually better in my experience. There are a lot of crappy things in the online [space], and people sharing nudes that the subject of the photo didn’t want to have shared, but the good thing about the Internet is that it’s a very safe space to explore your sexuality too.
So to me, love in the age of this digital realm is all I’ve ever had. I wouldn’t know anything else, but for me personally it works great. I’m actually going to New York City this month to go on a date with a person I never met offline, so. There you go.