Artist Feature: Viscaya Wagner

by Nisha Btesh September 16, 2019

Artist Feature: Viscaya Wagner

Morning Routine

7 am: Wake up! I’ve been trying to give myself more time in the morning, so I make a cup of tea and do a little reading before getting ready… but I’m not a natural morning person, so some days I snooze the alarm… several times.

7:30 am: Brush my teeth and wash my face :) I just started using eye cream… big news.

8 am: My partner is I have a deal in the morning where he makes our lunches and I make breakfast. I usually make loaded up yogurt bowls (I’m talking berries, banana, peanut butter, toasted coconut, toasted nuts, and ground flaxseed), or breakfast tacos with eggs and leftovers from dinner.

8:30 am: I’m out the door! I head a few blocks down to catch the ferry… I have a very lucky commute down the east river instead of the subway. It’s changed my life for sure.

9 am: On the ferry, I generally read or listen to a podcast, and now my good friend has the same commute so we catch up before work madness starts!

9:30 am: I get settled and start my morning checking emails and following up on projects.

10:30 am: I’m trying to get into the habit of free drawing for an hour each day to loosen up and remind myself not to get too attached to anything… wish me luck ;) 

Tell us about how you became the woman you are today. Where did you grow up? What moments in life have influenced your character most?

I grew up in a small Vermont town, originally an only child but my family continued to grow with many sweet siblings after my parents' divorce. My childhood was very adventurous and free… we used to play in the river and build forts, go camp and fun stuff like that. Both my parents are extremely creative people - my father is an artist and landscape architect, and my mother has a beautiful sense of space. Along with my step-mom, they were extremely influential and supportive in my creative pursuits as I grew up. But I really struggled with finding an identity in my work as I was surrounded by very different aesthetics; my mom is intuitive, feminine, and organic, whereas my dad has more of a modern, minimalist aesthetic rooted in material and form. My moniker, Honey & Rust, was a way for me to marry the differences and embrace that I’m a bit of both. It’s always an evolution. 

Tell us a little bit about what drew you to your medium. Did you choose to work with this medium or did it choose you?

Through school I was exposed to a lot of different ways of working - in college I started my work in printmaking and it was a real instant love of mine… I appreciate the problem solving and the process involved. I think it was important for me to trust in the accidents and unpredictable nature of color interaction and layering… which is something I really struggle to do. 

After college, I didn’t have the same resources and equipment, especially when we moved to New York, so I returned to painting, drawing, and making digital work… things that worked within the small confines of our apartment. I got really into paper cutouts as another way of letting go of perfection and freeing up my process. It’s been really good for me and very much influenced my style in other areas of my work, mostly digital; I’m constantly adding back in hard corners and restraining myself from editing out the “flaws.”

In the last few years, I’ve had the opportunity to work as a muralist, and it’s another medium that really excites me; engaging with different scales and contexts… I very much believe in public art and building community, so I feel very grateful to be able to contribute in that way.

What is the message you're sending into the universe with your work? Why do you feel so strongly about this message?

Oh boy, that’s a loaded question… it’s always evolving, but I think all of my work, or at least the intention behind all my work, is motivated by human nature; our instincts, our relationship to the natural world, or relationship to others. I hope my work brings joy, comfort, inspiration, or motivation to participate in this world in a meaningful way.

What is the biggest challenge you've faced as a female artist?

This is a tricky question because there are so many systemic issues women face in the work environment… and the world in general, but as an artist, I’ve really struggled with the idea of “femininity” and how that’s perceived in my work. I’m a woman, so my work is inherently feminine, but the need to define it as either masculine or feminine is hard for me. And I, sadly, feel a lot of pressure from myself while I’m making to restrain those instincts, although I’m not always sure it shows. ”Is this too feminine?” “Who do I want my audience to be?”… it’s exhausting, and I wish I didn’t put that stress on myself.

Also, women are paid less. I’ve absolutely experienced it; we’ve all experienced it. And it’s bullshit. 

How do you define your creative gig? Full-time career or side hustle? Explain why you’ve chosen one over the other.

I have a full-time job at the Art & Graphics team at WeWork, but my freelance work takes up a huge space in my life. I try not to get caught up in how to define it all. I feel really lucky to be surrounded by so many talented people in all areas of my life and right now I’m appreciative of the balance I have through these two ways of working - both security and exploration. 

Big or small, what’s the single best money making tip or piece of advice you can share with up and coming artists?

I’m in a constant state of learning, but I can say that the best thing I’ve done is stay organized and document everything! Set up systems for yourself with contracts, invoicing, expenses, taxes… Do the research and talk to professionals or educated friends; it can be daunting at first but once you do the leg work it really pays off down the line. 

Give us three of your favorite/ most inspiring things right now. Could be a book, a food, a destination, a song, a person, etc.

I’m such a sucker for ceramics, home goods, books… it’s so hard to choose! Right now I’m reading Georgia O'Keeffe and Her Houses: Ghost Ranch and Abiquiu, I like to read a little bit each morning to start my day off. I’ve also been making lots of gazpacho with the beautiful summer tomatoes, so that’s kept me feeling fresh. And the last thing I’d say is the new Peace Flags by the Land boys… always incredible.

What's the best advice you've ever been given?

“You are enough.”

Finish this sentence. I find myself most inspired to create when I am…

Exploring new places, or surrounded by talented friends :) 

Name 3 of your guilty pleasures.

  1. Ben & Jerry’s… I’m a Vermont girl, after all
  2. Tabloid magazines… but only People
  3. A dollar slice of NYC pizza
(But I don’t really feel guilty about these, hehe)

 

 

 

To learn more about Viscaya Wagner, please visit www.viscayawagner.com




Nisha Btesh
Nisha Btesh

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