This post comes from our blog intern, Aubrie!
Reality can be easily augmented in an artist’s mind. When I came across the work of Victoria Siemer (aka Witchoria), she immediately transported me into a different world. A world where humans are weightless, where you don’t know which way is up and which is down, and where cyberspace meets outer space. Her portfolio is diverse and her striking graphics certainly make you think, inviting you in to her atmospheric dream.
The mysterious quality of her designs had me so intrigued that I just had to learn more about this Brooklyn-based artist’s work! Victoria’s purely progressive nature has her pushing boundaries in both art and design at every opportunity. Read on to dive deeper into her alluring fantasy world, to revel in what inspires her art, and to admire her quirky, creative wit.
Each one of your images seems to represent some sort of augmented reality. How would you describe the vibe of your work? Do you feel like there’s a mystical space that all of these creations are living in?
I think everyone has a mystical space where creativity lives, and that’s our imaginations. What’s wonderful is that I’ve managed to make a career out of using mine. I think that I’ve always had a fascination with the idea of magic, or superpowers, and digital manipulation has given me the ability to sort of create my own alternate realities where those things are possible.
You’re currently living in Brooklyn, NY. Where are you originally from? Do you think Brooklyn is a stimulating place for an artist to live? Why?
I grew up in the DMV, went to SUNY Buffalo, then moved to Bushwick a few years ago. It’s without a doubt a stimulating place for an artist to live. I don’t think I’d be where I am now if I hadn’t moved here. Being surrounded by so many brilliant creatives really challenges you to become a better artist. At the same time, I don’t know if New York is for everyone, living here can be lonely, despite being such a big city. Living here — and creating here — requires a certain level of toughness.
What’s your favorite local hangout spot in Brooklyn?
In the summertime? Any rooftop. There’s something about the skyline. It’s hypnotic. It balances out the stress of living in this city; it makes it all worthwhile.
Name a few things we could find you doing on any given day.
Spending too much time on Wikipedia. Listening to podcasts. Doing crosswords. Zoning out on the train. Eating huevos rancheros or nachos. Throwing together an impromptu photoshoot. Photoshopping in bed.
Did you always want to be a graphic designer?
Honestly, I had no idea. I had always been creative, in a sense, but I had never really applied that creativity to something tangible. I ended up stumbling into design in college and it was the first time in my life something just clicked. Now I can’t imagine my life any other way.
What inspired you to choose this path for yourself?
There is a really amazing Ted Talk by Ken Robinson called ‘How Schools Kill Creativity’ that I find extremely relevant now that I have fully embraced my creativity. I wasn’t really allowed to utilize it when I was younger. Out of the rubric thinking was not accepted, and often ended in some sort of punishment, especially with grading. I was a mediocre high school student because of this, but an exceptional student in college, once I found an atmosphere that nurtured creative thinking.
How do you think your designs have progressed through the years?
Seeing the evolution happen has been strange. I think there are a lot of factors that contribute to this. First, I’m a design nerd, and I grind out tutorials all the time to make sure my technique in the Adobe creative suite is on-par. Consistent content creation has also been a factor. I’m a digital designer for a marketing firm, so I have to make sure to allow time for personal work after a long day. I’ve learned that if you’re gonna chase the dream in New York, you’re going to have to work really hard for it.
What part of the design process is your favorite and why?
Figuring out how to do something without someone telling you how to do it. Bonus points if I figure it out without Google. Digital manipulation is like a puzzle sometimes. The final image is the problem, and you have to find a solution. Then there is a long process of trial and error. What is amazing is how many series of mine are based on mistakes. I’ve discovered so many amazing things through sheer failure, and I’ve found a way to harness them into something successful. Embracing failure is one of the most important lessons I’ve ever learned. And honestly, I can’t afford to do some of the things that I dream of doing. My ‘Illuminated’ series is a prime example of this. I fell in love with Robert Montgomery’s outdoor light installations. I can’t afford to make installations like that, I live in New York, the rent is insane here. So I found a way to digitally create my own.
How do your feelings and emotions play a role in your personal designs? Is there a story behind your pieces?
There is definitely an emotional root to everything I create. I find that I struggle with words when trying to express something that I’m going through. I have a much easier time expressing it visually. What I find interesting is how other people connect with the work. I love external interpretations. I try not to over explain any piece of work that I create so that people can create their own meaning in what they’re seeing. Sometimes I think some of that experience is lost if you give people a preconceived notion of how it’s supposed to be perceived.
Your work certainly has some elements of creative humor. How do you feel you really push the boundaries in graphic art today?
I just try to be myself. Life is hard, things get messy, and sometimes the only way to deal with it is to find a way to about it.
What does “free” mean to you?
Figuring out what who you are and doing what you love.
All images courtesy of Victoria Siemer.