Vivienne Tewes is an illustrator who mainly works with fashion and social media brands. She also practices fine art creating colorful, quirky paintings that mix flat forms and architectural spaces. She is a graduate from School of Visual Arts and received a BFA in Visual and Critical Studies and is now working and living in Brooklyn, New York.
What do you like to listen to while you paint? I really like listening to podcasts while I’m painting. My favorites are My Favorite Murder and Crime Junkie. When I need a break from true crime, I love listening to Phoebe Bridgers, Jungle Pussy, and Dirty Projectors. I love alternative 90s and early 2000s, as well as a lot of modern rap and hip hop.
How has your upbringing influenced you as an artist today? Growing up in Los Angeles and being around adults who were in the arts inspired me at a young age to feel like being an artist as a career was possible. While neither of my parents are visual artists, my dad plays bass and many of their friends were teachers at art colleges, graphic designers, or worked in the entertainment industry. I was also able to spend a lot of time at museums and experiencing Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese culture in LA. Exposure to a wide variety of imagery and art has influenced my style a lot; I use a lot of large flat shapes when starting the composition and enjoy bright, contrasting colors. My work is very inspired by Mexican religious art and the graphic design of small local businesses. One of my favorite sights in LA is the Happy Foot/Sad Foot sign for a podiatrist office in the Silverlake neighborhood. (Unfortunately it was taken down a couple years ago.)
How has your work evolved over time? When I was first getting into art seriously during high school, all my projects were based on specific prompts from my art teacher. I had the same art teacher all through high school, and she was very rigid in her approach to teaching. All my work then was figurative, highly planned, and required numerous sketches and reference photos. I applied to the School of Visual Arts for illustration, and once there I quickly realized I was more interested in fine art painting and switched to the Visual and Critical Studies program. In that department I started painting abstractly, working on developing my own style, and learned wood working skills that allowed me to build my own shaped canvases. It’s been about a year since I graduated from SVA, and I have started doing digital illustration in addition to my painting practice.
What stories or messages do you wish to tell through your creations? With my paintings, I am really interested in the aesthetic experience, and ultimately want to make an object that is confusingly beautiful. I like the juxtaposition of flat objects and luminal spaces, bright colors and harsh black outlines, the abstract and familiar. While I take my work seriously, the most important thing is that it is enjoyed by the viewer. My aesthetic is very playful and modern.
Do you have any particular goals for the future, what’s next? Currently, my goal is to continue building my body of work. I have a couple chronic illnesses that, for the past year, have really limited my ability to work, and now that I have them more under control, I’m just excited to get back to doing what I love. I am also interested in connecting with more chronically ill/disabled artists for the purpose of community building.
FRONTRUNNER online forum: @vtewes