We recently caught up with ViK, one of the biggest up-and-coming female talents in the street art world. With a lifelong passion for typography and features in publications like Juxtapoz and Frank 151, we predict that ViK’s rise to notoriety will be a quick one. Read on for a peek at her origins, experiences on the street, and high profile collaborations…
Tell us, who is ViK and what gets her going?
I’m just a Brooklyn girl at heart. I have a passion for all things visual arts and self expression. I enjoy a great manicure and a fresh brewed cup of green tea. I’m addicted to my spin bike and doing just about anything for good health.
Do you think your Polish & Russian background distinguishes your perspective from other Brooklyn graff artists or are you BK through-and-through?
Although my roots are in Warsaw, I moved to Brooklyn when I was really young. Being raised in one of Brooklyn’s historic neighborhoods was a great experience. I attended grade school in Williamsburg and high school in Fresh Meadows, Queens. I love the fact that within a few stops on the subway I can feel like I have landed in another country. The variety of food, people, music and everything in-between is something that will never get old to me. I don’t think I could ever live in any other borough in NYC, except maybe LES.
I think every person has their own motive for graffiti regardless of background. One of the biggest reasons why I paint is to be able to take a break from my surroundings, clear my head, and just get creative and see where my own imagination can take me.
Have you encountered any obstacles gaining recognition in a male-dominated community? Are there any lessons to share with other women working in masculine environments?
Although the graff world can often seem like “boys club,” at the end of the day it’s about the artwork. I feel that working in any environment, male or female dominant, if you do your job and do it well your work will speak for itself.
What drew you to graffiti? Why street art and not studio?
Script and typography in general is something I have always been visually drawn to. There was a lot of graffiti in Warsaw that first caught my eye, mostly tags, slander, and political messages. It was when I moved to NYC with my family that I was exposed to extensive murals and elaborate pieces. Throughout school I noticed that I was a lot more concerned about how my notes were written than what they said. Soon enough my doodles started to take shape into pieces, throw ups, and hand styes. Once I got tired of drawing everywhere, I decided it was time to take my work to then next level and see how big I can go.
I actually do some studio work every so often but being outside on the street is the optimal environment. Working with acrylic paint on canvas allows me to stretch my mind and forces me to work with a less familiar environment. This year I definitely plan to put out more canvas work and perfect my skills.
How was your experience working in collaboration with corporate brands like Reebok?
It was nice to be recognized. Working with Reebok was really fun because I had a lot of creative freedom. Although I was not able to freestyle and think and paint on the spot, I didn’t feel like I was confined or restricted to my design. Reebok asked me to create my own interpretation of their current Reethym of Lite campaign. I wanted to piece to convey movement and energy in the custom lettering piece and throughout the background. The billboard ad was installed in Harlem for a month.
When working in different cities do you have the intention of writing or is it spur of the moment?
I usually plan to travel for painting specifically. In the next few years I would definitely like to paint a lot more out of the country. I love to travel so I would be willing to go anywhere there is a wall ready for me to paint.
Do you like to freestyle or work off a plan?
I love to freestyle my pieces. I don’t know that there is a method to my madness honestly. At the start of the painting no matter what I envision for the piece it usually takes on a life of its own and turns out to be something completely different. Often times I don’t even stick to the paint scheme I pick out that day, I like to just let it happen and try and test things as I’m going along.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I try to push myself more each year with everything I get involved with. I plan on improving my skills with different mediums, not just spray paint but more brush and pen and ink.
I’m excited to think where my work may lead given the upcoming projects on the table.
What are some specific goals of yours – What? When? Why?
The only thing I want to achieve in 5 years is to be able to make enough money to live comfortably off my art.