Welcome to Candy Conversations! This week we’re chatting with Vyctoria of Phantoms Siren.
Name : Vyctoria Hart
Hometown : Rotherham
Craft : Graphic Design
Company Name : Phantoms Siren
Website : http://www.phantoms-siren.com
Deviantart : http://phantoms-siren.deviantart.com
Likes : Coffee by the pint and chocolate by the crate. Music with cogs and art with gears. Tales of daring airship shenanigans and books of science fantasy. Steampunk and dieselgoth and the goggle wearing crowd. People who know their history but aren’t afraid to play fast and loose with it. Comedy with bite and humour with brains. Yoga that doesn’t take itself too seriously and meditation without the incense.
Dislikes : Hipsters, fashionistas and scene snobs. Celery. Hatred, intolerance and misplaced self importance. Tea. The feeling that you’ve forgotten to do something really important.
- Hi Vycotoria, welcome to Candy Conversations. Tell us a bit about yourself!
I’m 27 and I currently live on the outskirts of Rotherham (someone has to!) with my fiance David. I followed him to The University of York in 2001 where I studied The History of Art at degree level. It was a terribly difficult course, requiring a whole four hours of lectures a week and a free international holiday… ahem.. I mean an intensive overseas studies session every year. I graduated in 2004 with a 2:1 BA Hons and the feeling that I should have studied harder. I had intended to study Medievalism in the Victorian Era to Masters level but went into the world of work instead.
David and I have been together for ten years and plan to get married in 2012. We’re planning a steampunk wedding with a theme loosely based on the Jim Henson movie Labyrinth, with almost everything coming from the local arts and crafts community. We currently share our home with a six month old black kitten named Du and our garden is occupied by a growing number of ornamental Koi carp.
- Have you always been creative?
I’ve been artistic for as long as I can remember. When I was small Tony Hart was something of a hero to me, not least because of the shared surname, and I watched HartBeat religiously every week after school. It was my dearest ambition to have a picture featured in The Gallery. Whilst I never achieved this aim, I did get two out of my three Blue Peter badges for art work.
Sadly I had a number of problems when it came to GCSE and A-Level art classes as I found the insistence on following other artistic styles to be stifling. As a result I didn’t speak to my GCSE art teacher for over a year of that course. Whilst I tried to abandon my own style during my A-Levels I wasn’t successful in emulating the approved styles and gained only a grade D. As a result I gave up on visual art and didn’t draw a thing for over a year.
Whilst I was at University I discovered a love of concert photography and spent a number of years following a band called The Cruxshadows all over Europe and into the US. Gradually, through the people and friends I met along the way, I found my way back to the pen. During that period I also happened upon knitting, crochet, costume design, spinning, origami, baking and a bit of hair dressing. Whilst my focus these days is mostly on digital art, I still love to indulge in my other loves whenever I have the time.
- Tell us more about your craft…
I have two main crafts. The first and foremost is digital design. This involves a huge amount of time tied to a computer and a graphics tablet. A graphics tablet is a wonderful invention that allows you to draw straight into a computer program with a pen, rather than scanning from paper or struggling with an unwieldy mouse. I work almost exclusively in Photoshop, though I am trained in Illustrator and GIMP I just feel most comfortable in Photoshop.
Some of my designs have been created for one specific product, such as a calendar, tattoo or magazine cover, whilst others are created for the sheer joy of it and are subsequently translated into greeting cards and prints.
My second craft is spinning yarn. I find the process very relaxing and rewarding as yarn can be surprisingly artistic and complex. Whilst I own a spinning wheel I often prefer to spin with a rather low tech drop spindle as its quieter and easier to transport. As I only spin art yarn, the lengths and the weights of the product can vary widely from piece to piece and each piece is completely unique and cannot be repeated. This is a huge contrast for me creatively from the digital art which can be printed and duplicated ad infinitum.
- Where do you sell your products, and how do you promote your work?
The benefit of DeviantArt is that the art is printed on demand and shipped directly from the printer to the buyer. As DeviantArt is primarily an art site I have received a number of commissions as a result of customers using their search functions to find specific types of artist. The wider DeviantArt community system also makes it easier to find artists to collaborate with and provides a wide range of contests and challenges that can bring your work to a wider audience.
I have had a stall at a Craft Candy fair on two occasions now and received my most exciting commission to date as a result of my art being displayed there. In October 2009 I was fortunate enough to be asked to create the cover for issue 2 of Irregular Magazine.
I am extremely fortunate to have my work displayed at the Davenport and Winkleperry Art Gallery in Pittsboro, North Carolina. This is one of the major advantages of working digitally – I can paint work here, and have it printed at a gallery on the other side of the Atlantic in minutes rather than waiting weeks for shipping.
- So are you currently available for commissions?
I’m happy to consider any kind of commission, from custom portraits and tattoos, to advertisements and logo design.
I work on a sliding scale of basic prices depending on the complexity of the finished piece. Something like a small tattoo design can cost very little, whilst a 4 foot by 6 foot hugely complex art nouveau piece can cost a great deal more. My current commission prices are outlined on my website, but I am also open to trades and collaborations.
This piece, ‘Iola’, (see below) was created for a friends wedding, the bride is a fellow fan of Alphonse Mucha, so I used his style, whilst the gladioli in the girls hand is a symbol of the groom’s love of The Smiths/Morrissey. All the other flowers were specifically chosen for their meaning in relation to the bridal bouquets.
- Do you work from home or do you have a studio? What is your work space like?
I have two work spaces in my home. The first is my desk in the living room, this holds my iMac, scanner, graphics tablet, a massive collection of art magazines and stock discs, and usually an excessive number of mugs and chocolate wrappers. I spend at least 3 hours a day here, and when I’m on a creative roll I can be staring at this screen for 14 hours or more. As such, I try to keep it tidy enough to work, but when I’m concentrating on the art the mess becomes invisible.
My second workspace is my custom built craft room. It was the first room I decorated when we moved into this house, the walls are a lurid mix of hot pink and brilliant aqua with lots of functional white storage and work surfaces. This is a huge contrast to the rest of our home, which is rather darker and more gothic. However I adore the energising feel of this space, it is perfect for sewing, spinning and all the other noisy or messy art processes. Also its much easier to find wayward pins on white surfaces than it is on black!
Whilst I like the idea of having a studio elsewhere I prefer to be able to work and spend time with my partner at the same time. Also I tend to get inspired at 2am in the morning, and I prefer not to have to travel far to translate that inspiration into reality.
- Who or what inspires you, and how does this come through in your work?
Artistically, the majority of my work is inspired by the work of Alphonse Mucha and the wider Art Nouveau movement. My work has always been reliant on linework for its structure, and as I’ve progressed, the combination of Steampunk and Art Nouveau has been a natural one. I’ve always admired his use of framing devices and flowing fabrics. Art Nouveau also represented a move towards advertising as a form of artist expression and the concept that one could have as much selling impact with images as with words. This is a concept I’ve experimented with, as in this poster I created for the Clockwork Cabaret radio show www.clockworkcabaret.com
In terms of the content, my art is frequently inspired by music, literature, film and television. In my gallery you’ll find pieces inspired by The War of the Worlds, Blade Runner, Doctor Who, the author Neil Gaiman and the music of Abney Park to name but a few.
This set of examples (below) shows a selection of works inspired by musicals – a crocheted version of the evil Audrey II plant from Little Shop of Horrors, a yarn inspired by Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street and a poster created to advertise a live version of REPO! The Genetic Opera.
- Which of your contemporaries do you admire?
Dr Geof Banyard, the genius behind the Fetishman comicbooks and a glorious range of deviously steampunk designs at the islandofdoctorgeof.co.uk, many of which feature squid, tea or zeppelins, sometimes all in the same image. If I could work with even 50% of Geof’s wit, range and teainess I’d be 50% more successful! *WARNING: THESE MAY NOT BE SUITABLE FOR UNDER 18s*!
Ida Mary Walker Larsen, a hugely talented digital manipulator in her own right, Ida is one of my preferred sources of stock photography. The amount of work that she puts into the costumes and poses results in source images of amazing quality. A number of my images have been inspired directly by her stock.
Steph Gorin, who sells spinning supplies as Loop, is the reason I spin at all, her beautiful spinning batts are artworks in their own right. Sometimes I feel guilty turning these wonderful creations into yarn, they’re almost too good to use.
- What is your favourite craft item that you have made and sold?
It’s hard to choose a favorite but the piece I’m currently most proud of is “The Frost Fairy” which was created as my 2008 Christmas/Yule/Winter Holiday greetings card.
- And what’s your favourite hand crafted item that you’ve bought?
It’s hard to choose a favorite item, but I’d have to say the custom monkey made by Siansburys is my current favorite. I’d wanted a custom monkey for a long time and this one is absolutely perfect. He’s based on Alan Cumming’s character Glitch in the Sci-Fi Channel series Tin Man, which is a retelling of the Wizard of Oz. The amount of detail on this monkey is amazing, from the stitching on the waistcoat and the tears in his jacket, to the curled wool dreadlocks and perfect handstitched felt zipper on his head. I’d love to have a shelf full of monkeys!
- What do you love about belonging to Craft Candy, and how do you feel you have benefitted from being a member of the group?
I originally found Craft Candy via Ravelry, the knitting website and I volunteered to join the group without knowing too much about it. I was hooked from the first meeting, the other members of the group create a wonderful atmosphere and it’s so easy to relax.
I’ve attended a few of the workshops and there is always a friendly face to chat with whilst you craft. So far I’ve had a stall at two of the craft fairs and I’ve always done my best to help out on the welcome desk at the other fairs.
As the overall style of the group is very different to my own, I created this logo (below) based on Victorian candy tins last year, so I can advertise the group on my website without compromising the aesthetics.
- Finally, what are your plans for the future?
I want to create art that helps people in some way, and as I already do a lot of work for charity, I’d love to find away to combine the two. For the last few years I’ve been involved in art contests in aid of Lupus research, and recently I designed a logo for LARP-AID, a group that runs live-action roleplay events in aid of charity. I’d love the opportunity to do more like that.
- Thank you for chatting Vyctoria, it’s been good to find out more about your work!