I came across Velicia's work last year after she was featured in an article on AFROPUNK. I started following her on social media and ordered this print from her online shop. Her work has also been featured in the New York Times.
1. How did you get to where you are right now as an artist?
It's been a long journey! Practice? Trial and error? A well thought out plan? I think an artist's journey is a mixture of all these things. I don't think there will ever be a "right now" for me because I'm always working on who I need to be as an artist.
2. Do you think it is important to have a formal education in order to be an artist?
I think it is important to be disciplined as an artist so whether you acquire that discipline in a formal learning environment or not you have to be able to push yourself, pick yourself up and move ahead. Sometimes a formal education can give you the tools to do that. For me, I loved learning in a classroom. I plan on taking a few classes this summer. For me, it's all about being inspired and learning something new always inspires me!
3. Describe a typical day for you.
I work a full-time job in addition to doing my artistic work. Although my day job is creative, I usually settle in to work when most people are getting off work. I handle my business communications or any administrative work I have during the day. Usually, I've planned out my artistic work in advance so that I can dive in. It took me a long time to become organized enough to reserve enough energy to tackle briefs. I get up early on the weekends and find that working in 3-4 hour stretches is satisfying and also allows me to have a life away from drawing. My ideal day would be spent working solely from my home studio. I'm close but not there yet!
4. Who or what inspires you?
I am inspired by non-traditional viewpoints of fashion. I like designers who experiment and break the rules. The rule breakers have played by the rules at some point so they really know how to maintain the structure of the clothing while presenting something, although unconventional, that someone can wear in their everyday lives. Inspiration? I look to the work of Antonio Lopez, Viramontes and Gruau. I adore Schiele and Klimt. When I’m being too controlled or literal (with my lines/approach) I look to them. I love looking at street art, murals, especially wheat pasting and graffiti. Some of my work begins as a sketch that has hopes of growing into a mural.
5. How do you get clients?
I am a graphic designer as well and have a few clients that have found me by word of mouth in my local community. I also subscribe to a freelance site and have managed to work on some interesting briefs. Most of the interest in my work has been through Instagram and some free portfolio sites, although I did have a page in the Directory of Illustration for two cycles. When I first posted a portrait of Naomi Campbell on Instagram, my daughter asked me if I had tagged her, I just gave her a blank stare! Technology is amazing. Mz. Campbell commented on my post and then followed me for a while. Has that translated into work? In a way, yes. Last year I drew the Quann Sisters (Urban Bush Babes) and that led to an article that AFROPUNK shared in an edited format and that led to the first New York Times style piece.
6. What has been the highlight of your career as an artist so far?
My career as an artist has been in the background while I was raising my family. When someone sends me an email just to say hi and that they admire my work it's a totally amazing feeling. Last year was amazing. I fulfilled one of my dreams to have an illustration in the New York Times Thursday Style section. Earlier this year, my son and I had a joint exhibition at a gallery in our area. There's still more that I want to do outside of digital illustration. There are still more highlights to come. Ask me again. Soon.
7. Have you had any career disappointments as an artist? If yes, how did you overcome them?
Being an artist doesn't make you immune to career disappointments. I allow myself to feel the disappointment and I talk it out with my family and a few trusted friends then I get back to work. Sometimes when a thing doesn't work out it is for the best. I think you just have to trust in your skills and remember that you are unique. You don't have to wait for anyone's permission to express yourself the best way you know how.
8. What is your dream art project?
I'd love to do a fashion inspired mural or even incorporate illustrations as part of a set design for the runway. There have been some briefs that I thought would be especially dreamy but then turned out to be nightmares! I can laugh about it now, however when it was happening, all I could do was stress eat!
9. Do you have any advice for any emerging or aspiring artists?
I have tons of advice. However, I think the best advice is to always be yourself. Work hard. Always learn something new. Don't try to grind in the same direction as everyone else. Style is fleeting, but talent is what will bring clients to your door. Most importantly...don't give up.
10. What's next for you?
Summer is usually a great time to get organized so I plan to overhaul my workspace. Purge, pare down, organize to be ready to welcome new opportunities. I'm also planning on doing a rebranding of sorts for my online store to include a wider variety of affordable art.
Stay up to date with Velicia here:
Interview by Glodeane Brown
All photos are the artist's work and were provided by the artist