Hello Dear Vanessa Wenwieser. Thank you for giving us the chance to Interview you. Our first question is what’s your background?
Thank you, I’m so happy to be interviewed by you. I was born in Munich, Germany and I was very much inspired by wonderful and sometimes very dark stories and fairytales. In fact this dark or eerie side has been with me ever since, it attracts, mesmerizes and intrigues me.
To me, the perfect is often very one-dimensional but, the imperfect, is often more interesting and diverse. With different aspects and dimensions, by regarding this darker imperfect side of things, one can sometimes find the sublime.
I enjoy things that are not as they seem. Like something one doesn’t quite know what’s going on and the longer one looks the more layers of meaning appears. I also enjoy it when the viewer is mystified by which art form is used and how it might be made, this is why I rather leave this side of it shrouded in a little bit of mystery.
I’ve always enjoyed a very diverse range of art that have all trickled down and later on fed my own art. For example; Reading, writing, poetry, art, drawing, music, or anything that opens up my mind and soul to the human existence.
I don’t like to limit myself to what others say one can do in a particular genre, I always like to mix and create between art forms and enjoy the melding of the hand-made and the machine-made and in between, as well as going back and forth between genres, sometimes just for the pleasure of serendipity, of what can happen by accident.
Sometimes I enjoy the pace of the machine-made art, as one can transform ideas more quickly but this is not always true, it can actually end up taking longer too, it really depends. What I enjoy is capturing visual with a camera and then adding the finishing touches by hand and also layering them digitally.
I studied fine art photography at the Glasgow School of Art and later studied printmaking at the city of Glasgow College, because, I loved the transformative magic of photography, especially the dark room but later, I felt I wanted to experiment with other art forms and use paint in printmaking. I felt the urge to add more hand-made elements.
I am an admirer of Diane Michals, whom I also visited in New York. He encouraged me strongly not to listen to certain schools of thoughts or ways of operating but to do my own thing, like he had done; he had written on the ‘holy photographic paper’, which was very frowned upon by purists.
I enjoyed work in the darkroom using different timings and chemicals to experiment, I loved the quiet darkness, almost mystical, bewitching feeling in the darkroom, or using layers like mirrors or wet windows to add layers of meaning, as well as writing. I was told my work was too conceptual, but I kept at it, I wanted to explore more depth and meaning than that which can be seen.
In printmaking, I particularly enjoyed screen printing as it had a similarity to photography yet it allowed for more painterly aspects, like painting areas of the screen with colors or making mono prints and painting directly onto the screen or with watercolors and then later on painting onto the print, I loved that juxtaposition of the machine-made and the totally randomness of hand-painted elements.
I have always been attracted to layering and adding different artistic elements to gather meaning and for it to look imperfect and scratched and aged, a certain type of digital art is too smooth and perfect for me visually and I enjoy that people often are intrigued if my artworks are paintings or digital artworks,
I think, through digital manipulation, which I am still learning by doing it, allows me to create my multi-layered canvases, my own dream worlds. In which I try to investigate what I see and feel and hope others can relate to it too.
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and what drove you to choose art as a career?
I have always enjoyed reading, contemplating, dreaming and I have always been very arty, so it came naturally to me to complete this route.
I enjoy so many directions in art, as well as enjoying poetry, reading books and writing, I also have a strong connection to music as well, as the lyrics often inspire me for ideas or titles to my work. I’ve always loved art and read about art history as well as films and over a lifetime it creates a library of information to fall back on.
I’ve always have been thoughtful and wanted to express myself in many different ways; that which goes on in the mind and soul and to find a way to express it and that which can not be seen on the outside, for example transformative emotions and feelings deep inside like love, imaginations, healing regaining lost strength and the afterlife.
I feel I could have ended up being artistic or creative in most artistic directions but doing anything else would have never entered my mind, it is what I have always been interested and attracted to and the thing I’m best at.
We would like to talk about your female figures in your works. We see you blending them sometimes with flowers and sometimes with feathers. What does your work of art discover underneath it all?
My female figures are so important to me in my work, as I would like to free them from the male gaze that has predominated the art world for so long. I like to tell another side of the story, what it is to be human from a female perspective and what goes on in my mind and maybe other women too; to show the feelings that women feel, not just the two-dimensional male perspective on what it is like to be a female, which is mostly on being show for the male eyes.
In freeing them from this and injecting my female point of view, I feel a huge sense of freedom and to me, freedom is being at one with nature instead of destroying it, the females in my artworks seem to receive a strength from nature that is at the same time delicate as a blossom or a blade of grass but the force comes in unison of these parts as one. Together they are strong, like butterflies wings, although they are delicate and seem weak. In chaos theory the butterfly effect when the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can create a Tornado on the other side of the world, so even what seems vulnerable can have a strong effect and many weaker elements together can move mountains.
Feelings are explored naked and vulnerable, the women in my artwork are beings with minds and emotions and intuitively powerful.They have a natural inner strength within them and they re-connect it with nature.
I explore it in a beautiful and magical way trying to make people see the sublime, giving them strength and confidence and hope for the future.
Another symbol for liberation or liberating women is the wings, I have been forever interested in the dream of flying, the ultimate symbol of freedom. In my dreams since childhood I have flown. This symbol resides in me so strongly that I use it in many artworks, be it symbolic wings, for example, when the female grew wings out of delicate flowers in an image I created for International Woman’s day called ‘Tower of strength’, as these flowers together give her the strength to soar, to be strong for herself and her family. The flowers grow out of huge scars that are symbolic for her setbacks but that she is strong enough to come back and grow her own wings Or I use actual feathers such as in ‘The unbearable lightness of being’, or ‘Flights of fancy’, or ‘Let it bleed’ to name a few, they speak of the wish to be liberated and the hardship and the tears but they give hope that it is possible; if we don’t give up and support each other we will become more and more free as women over time and to never give up, to continue the fight.
The important thing is not to give up hope and to stick together and be kind and supportive towards each other.
We know that you have been running projects like "Love is Love" and "We are the granddaughters of the witches you couldn't burn" with other artists. Could you share with our readers your motivation for starting these projects and your experience working with so many artists?
These projects arose after I was invited by Tatiana and Douglas to join their project and group on Behance, that was called ‘Stop violence towards women’, and I was inspired by this project and the feeling that others who think alike exist and that together we can make a change.
Tatiana and I started having ideas for projects that we felt would work better within a female group, so we invited some women from Behance as well as Instagram to join the projects.
We felt as women there was so much still to do for liberating women, as people become lethargic and think in the west all is fine and equal, and they need reminded it is not always the case and we included women from different backgrounds also parts of the worlds when women are treated even worse. We wanted to give hope to other women and remind them to keep fighting for their rights and that we are there by their side, we are stronger than we think we are as we are the granddaughters of witches that couldn’t be burned, and we will continue to burn for this cause.
In the project ´Love is love`, we decided upon a male and female group, because we felt so strongly for the cause that there is still so much to be done for LGBT+ for their being accepted in society and treated equally.
Tatiana and I will continue to work on projects together that we burn for, she has such a warm heart and is wonderful and easy to work with and very organised. We find it very easy to work together and usually have similar opinions.
We know a wonderful group of talented artists that we enjoy working with and who, bring tears to our eyes for the work they create. It’s such a high quality and range of work they produce every time.
We haven’t had any problems working in groups as these people are like-minded, sometimes our only worry is people don’t manage to hand their work in on time, but now we have realized to not get stressed, they can just work with us in the next project.
It inspires artists to create, it makes people think and hopefully can make a small difference in the world, even if it’s only by sharing ideas and making people feel they aren’t alone and that there is still something good and positive in the world, that there is kindness and most of all there is hope.
The most important thing I think is to feel a human connection and to motivate others to do small things that help, even small gestures or donations, every little thing helps. Together we are strong and can make a change for a better more liberated and equal society.
How often do you update your skills and knowledge as artist? And How do you develop your art skills?
I must say, I often learn by doing, I experiment and try out certain things and then I’m often surprised by what happens. When I was doing screen printing I was always told one can’t print very fine details and I did anyway, it takes a lot of practice but it is possible. Don’t always listen to what is not possible, try it out, you have nothing to lose and you might be pleasantly surprised.
My tips working with Adobe Photoshop is, first think of what you want to do in the next project and then learn how to do certain things online. There are many tips or free courses and then you slowly update your knowledge as well as experimentation, to me experimentation is always the key. You never stop learning in life and I will never stop updating my knowledge and skills.
Photography, printmaking and digital work all have this magical element to them, when I arrive sometimes at a point, and it suddenly works and surprises me and brings tears of joy to my eyes.
I don’t like to let my hand drawn skills get rusty either and I keep updating that by just drawing, it helps one to actually look at something for a long time and properly see it.
I constantly love trying out new things, for example when I did the printmaking course, I enjoyed experimenting with different things to paint directly onto the screen, like watercolor which gives a painterly and dreamy edge, or using charcoal to draw on the screen or using acrylic to add different mixed colors to an existing screen that had my image already on it.
What's your biggest barrier to being an artist? How do you address it?
I think time is a big constraint and one needs to spend a lot of time as it takes time to get in the flow, but it’s important to leave some time to think to dream, so leave enough time to make art and to think about it.
I often get my ideas in dreams or just doing other things like cooking where I’m relaxed, that’s the most important thing, ideas will only flow when you are relaxed, in fact they often come to me between sleeping and being awake, so on the weekend when there is more time, let your mind free flow and have a pen and paper ready to draw your ideas and write them down so you don’t forget.
For me it’s important as well for it to be silent or music and being alone, I find anything distracting very unhelpful.
A last thing is don’t mix it with doing things like business or accounting etc, skills that use the other side of the brain, leave that for another day I would say, mixing back and forth is unhelpful and distracting.
Can you share your knowledge about your techniques for overcoming creative blocks with our readers?
I would say to overcome creative block is to not force things, maybe just play around with ideas and experiment, or to read or watch a good film or listen to music, all these other art forms are so incredibly important to me for inspiration. They relax your mind and at the same time make you think and contemplate the world in a different way, it opens up your imagination and allows ideas flow and then you’ll find you suddenly you find ideas when you least expect them.
Otherwise experiment with new techniques or ways to make art, the most important thing is to not be stressed, so maybe even going for a walk or doing sport can be helpful.
The worst thing for creativity is mixing it with things that are stressful or you use the other side of the brain for, leave time for that and I would say don’t mix it as it takes a while to get into the creative mindset, but once you get there it’s like being in a trance, you forget about time and other things you live in the here and now and your imagination is wide open.
Can you talk about any other current or upcoming projects?
I am planning a solo exhibition, which will be virtual at the Holy Art gallery in London, England throughout October 2022 and I plan on calling it ‘Flowers of the night’ and hopefully will make some additional work for it. Will be a great opportunity to plan a solo exhibition with a theme and see how it is received.
With the Holy Art Gallery I will also be doing a physical show in their new Gallery in Athens, Greece from the 11-17th of November 2022, for which I’m very excited.
I am also excited that you will be featuring some of my work in your next book project called ‘ Top 100 artists to watch in 2022’, it will be the second book I’m featured in, and it’s such an honor to be able to take part in.
Lastly the on December the 28th 2022 I will be part of a group exhibition called ‘Brain cake’ in the Casa Mile, built by Antonio Gaudi in Barcelona, Spain. This is organized by the M.A.D.S gallery space from Milan, Italy and Fuerteventura und Canary Islands, Spain.
Otherwise I contemplate more group exhibitions with Tatiana as well as more group exhibitions and solo shows.