Whimsy and the Fantastical with Vandal
Vandal grew up wanting to create art, and she has done just that. She has been drawing since she was able to hold a pencil. She is an Australian First Nation’s Wiradjuri Aboriginal and her art career has begun to blossom in the past few years; winning an award for the Centre for Contemporary Photography’s People Choice in 2006 and in 2007 for the Faster Louder’s Rising Star award and most recently the Globe Skateboard Deck’s Prize.
Vandal has been exhibiting in galleries since 2015 with a focus on mixed media and she has even produced her own colouring book range, starting with “Vandalize this Colouring Book” a book that focuses on colouring outside the lines. Her ethic is simple - you don’t have to be perfect. It’s okay to make mistakes when creating art, it’s all about play. Last year, Vandal starting running workshops and this year, her second colouring book “Gulaangga” will make its debut.
Her artwork is distinctive, bold, energetic and full of imagination, love and whimsy. Her work has been described as – 'A wonderment for the eyes and a spark plug for the mind.'
When did you decide to work towards being an artist and what was that moment like?~ The definitive moment was four years ago. I had just left a sports club and felt lost. I felt I had just wasted three years of my life trying to achieve goals that weren’t really mine. They were other people’s goals, other people’s hoops I was told I had to jump through. I had a moment where I thought- what if I put all that effort into my art? What could happen? It was literally like a light bulb moment. Everything made sense.
How do you balance your art pursuits and your other responsibilities in life? ~ This took a while for me to figure out, and is evolving as I figure out my own art processes and what makes me tick. Once you figure out how you process art and what does or doesn’t work for you, it shifts a lot of things and frees you up in a way you previously couldn’t see. I have a board of tasks that are deadline based and need to be looked at all the time. I have a dedicated creative space for creating art. It also helps to have a very loving and supportive husband who wants me to achieve great things through my art.
Explain the themes you focus on and where the fascination comes from? ~ I love imagination because it’s limitless and fluid.
I always get asked “where did that idea come from?” and honestly a lot of the time my answer is “I don’t know.” But I think that’s a good thing. I think the ‘I don’t know’ factor is when my mind is free to really wander in my imagination and the creativity begins. A lot of my work is whimsical and fantastical. I like creating characters who become representative of my art pieces and present like a story, that you can join in with.
Emotion definitely plays a part in my art. My best art always comes out of emotion. I also work on the basis that for me, art has no rules and does not need to be perfect. Because making mistakes starts problem solving and problem solving starts the creative cogs in my brain going and then that’s when the ideas form.
I’ve always been a creative person, so I always look at things quite differently to other people. I find fascination in what they might see as ordinary and mundane. My mind will make up stories and characters based on real life things that I see all the time and I feel like, that’s part of my creative process, reaching out to me, trying to break through the everyday hum-drum calling me towards creativity.
What would you say has been a rewarding challenge in your arts career? ~ There is so much involved in being an artist that people don’t see. Self-promotion, networking, getting people to know you, building a fan base, producing art, coming up with ideas, good ideas, drawing, working out ideas, working on skills and techniques, getting great opportunities, getting paid for work, getting your art into the space you want it in, applying for grants, applying for opportunities.
So knocking over any aspect of this is always a big deal worth feeling great about. I’m proud that I’ve created original artworks, which people respond to.
A rewarding challenge is when I get to do events with the community. In particular through my culture, as an Aboriginal. I’m really proud that for the past three out of four years I’ve exhibited at the The Koorie Heritage Trust for their annual show, I’ve sold artwork, as a contemporary Aboriginal Artist. It’s always mind blowing to know someone loves what you have created and done. That just never gets old.
What are your goals as an artist in the next 12 months? ~ My goals for this year are to produce my second colouring book. To create an exhibit piece for the 2019 Koorie Heritage Trust Art show. To get my artworks exhibited in various spaces and exposed to greater audiences.
I am also investigating the possibility of an Artist in Residence somewhere, either in Australia or overseas. I am taking myself, as an artist, more seriously, trying to shift the balance of Art being my side-hustle a bit more of my full time hustle, and I feel this would be a huge step forwards in my career as an artist.