Introducing ‘Legendary Ladies’ by Ann Shen
From esteemed illustrator and author of ‘Bad Girls Throughout History’, Ann Shen, comes ‘Legendary Ladies’ – a beautifully illustrated book of the inspiring and empowering tales of goddesses from around the world. To celebrate the release of her latest offering, we caught up with the beloved author to discuss the inspiration behind the book and to find out more about the legendary ladies in her own life…
On the rare occasion that life gets the better of us, we all go in search of that much-needed dose of empowerment and inspiration. And where better to seek inspiration than looking to the goddesses who came before us? The world as we know it was moulded by goddesses whose powerful stories of unwavering strength, sheer determination and undeterred spirit embody the very things we seek and value in our everyday lives. From Aphrodite, the Greek goddess whose love overcame mortality, to Mazu, the Chinese deity who safely guides travellers home, we’ve a lot to learn from goddesses. Well, now we can, thanks to Ann Shen’s Legendary Ladies!
Can you tell us a little bit about how this book came to be?
Right before the release of my first book, Bad Girls Throughout History, I was dreaming up what my next book would be. I knew I had found my voice and my why when I wrote Bad Girls, and then my editor approached us with the idea of creating a book about mythological women since I loved painting mermaids and fairies. We developed the idea further to focus on goddesses because I loved the blend of history and mythology. I could get so much more whimsical with the art and retelling of these myths, but in a genre that was long overdue for a modern, fresh makeover. I loved that this was a deeper dive into the divine feminine, women’s role in our cultures, and how women had been revered in great and different ways throughout our existence on this earth. It also connected with this feeling of deep spiritual growth I think we’re all experiencing – with the rise of interest in crystals, plants, and natural products, connecting with the earth and ourselves – the goddesses were calling to me.
How did you decide which legendary goddesses to include?
It was important to me to include a lot of goddesses from different cultures because I wanted to represent the stories of many people. So I made sure that I cast a broad net of inclusion, and then I looked for themes in the goddess myths and found areas of focus that related to what people worshipped them for – and how to work with them to empower different aspects of our lives. I broke that into the categories that are in the book, which I believe are things we all look for support in our lives at some point: Creativity and Manifestation, Love, Reinvention, Protection, and Power.
When did you begin illustrating and how did your style develop?
I started illustrating at the age of 23 – I took my first figure drawing class and loved it so much I decided that I would go back to school for illustration. I put together a portfolio and applied in the fall – and started art school the next year. My style evolved a lot as I learned different tools and skills in school, and then really began to take shape after I graduated and started working in the real world. I took all the artists I loved, really studied their work and what was appealing to me about it, and applied it to my own work until I was creating something that felt unique and true to me.
Which of the fifty goddesses would you say empowers and inspires you most in your approach to life?
Artemis, the Greek goddess of the hunt, wilderness, and the moon. She’s laser focused on her goals, a fierce protector of those she loves, and knows herself so confidently. I’m inspired by her ferocious spirit and consider her one of my patron goddesses.
What do you hope people take away from reading Legendary Ladies?
That you have the ability to embrace your own inner divinity by connecting with these universal goddesses to empower yourself.
Which legendary lady in your own life has been your biggest inspiration?
My grandmothers – all my strength, spirit, and spunk is inherited from them.
Who are the legendary ladies of today that you would like to illustrate and why?
Many can be found in my first book Bad Girls Throughout History!
And finally, if you could give your younger self one piece of empowering advice, what would it be?
Believe in yourself.
Feeling empowered and inspired to discover more legendary goddesses from around the world? Treat yourself or the legendary lady in your life to Ann Shen’s latest offering here!