Pen’s Eye: Vakseen Art

Fix Her Up Her by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen) Fix Her Up Her by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)
Her Royal Eminence by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen) Her Royal Eminence by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)
Ribbon In Her Eyes by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen) Ribbon In Her Eyes by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)
Crock Tearz by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen) Crock Tearz by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)
Open Virtue by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen) Open Virtue by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)
Brillant Dope by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen) Brillant Dope by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)
Art by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen) Art by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)
Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen) Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Dear Pennies & Pens,

Last week, I discovered this new art app called Vango which allows you to view and buy art. Artists can also set up accounts and sell their work. The coolest thing about Vango is that it organizes art according to price, type, or collection. Not only is it easy to use but it’s really a beautifully designed app.

I’m very grateful to Vango because that is how I uncovered the work of Vakseen. Born Otha Davis III, Vakseen is a self-taught Los Angeles based artist. In regards to his work, Vakseen has created a distinct collage-influenced painting style that fuses elements of surrealism, cubism, photorealism and fashion design onto canvas.

Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Vakseen’s work is truly beautiful. And it’s funny because in our interview which you’ll see below, Vakseen talks about how most people are surprised to find that he’s a man because his work is so emotional and feminine. I’ll admit I am one of those people. And it’s not because I don’t believe that a man can be sensitive and understand the pressure that women have to be beautiful; I am just surprised a man is creating something that sympathizes with women and doesn’t treat them as sexual objects.

So many male artists are obsessed with putting women on display in a sexual manner. Whether it’s a painting, music video, or song some part of the female body will be shown or described in a way that leaves nothing to the imagination. It’s almost a little weird when you think about it because it’s not just straight men but gay men as well.

Art by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Art by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Okay before I get more off the subject let me tell you more about Vakseen and his work. Vakseen draws inspiration from women, emotions, and popular culture. His paintings deal with the theme of female identity and evolve around society’s idolization of beauty, specifically the enhancements that women endure to obtain this level of  “perfection” and the impact it has on our society.

#Vakseenart has been selected for over 40 solo and group exhibition in various galleries and venues throughout Los Angeles. His work has also been featured in over 45 art and literary magazines as well as being sold to collectors and art enthusiasts worldwide. In our interview below, Vakseen talks more about his life and work. With no further adieu, I present to you: Pen’s Eye: Vakseen Art. 

Brillant Dope by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Brillant Dope by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Where are you from?

I rep Florida to the fullest. I was actually born in Athens, GA, but my pops was in the military so we kind of bounced around when I was young. Around 1st or 2nd grade we moved to Jacksonville, FL and that’s where I ended up growing up and living most of my life.

From there I moved to Miami early 2005 and got my start in the music business. Then I moved to LA early 2011, where I still live.

How has your heritage influenced you as an artist?

Hmm that’s a great question. Simply stated, my heritage influences everything about me. I think my heritage impacts the way I view things in the world, which in turn is based on my experiences as a black man growing up in America. I’ve always grown up around diversity, so I’m cultured, but you definitely get a unique experience growing up in the South.

I’m very proud of my heritage and I incorporate it along with cultural diversity into everything I create. As proud as I am, I never want to be pigeonholed or put into a box. I don’t want people viewing my work being able to pinpoint my sex, race or anything of that nature.

I want to be respected as an individual, first and foremost and I’m happy to say I accomplish that. From the conversations I have at my shows, social media, etc,  people are typically shocked to find out a man is creating something so feminine and emotional.

Open Virtue by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Open Virtue by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

What school did you go to?

I went to FAMU in Tallahassee for 2 years and then dropped out. The school thing just wasn’t for me. I was trying to do what my parents wanted me to do and then you get to a new city where no one is there to watch over your back, telling you what to do.

It finally came to a point where I was just like “ehhh I’m out!”. You have to live your life and do what’s best for you, you know?! Plus I didn’t know what the hell I wanted to do in life lol.

What inspires you to create art?

Life, love, beauty, pain, emotions, success and the struggle. Those are all major components of my inspiration. Creativity as well. I love the creative process in everything from art, to food and fashion, etc. Simply the experience of creativity is very inspirational.

Crock Tearz by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Crock Tearz by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

What made you decide to become an artist?

Honestly, that’s all I’ve ever known. I was drawing and doodling from the time I could walk. I got into music in high school and that took over a good majority of my life. It’s actually still at the forefront of my life, along with art.

It wasn’t until I moved to LA early 2011 that I decided to take my art serious and pursue that avenue. Art in general has always been my true passion. I’m a creator.

Tell me more about your creative process as far as how you create your pieces? What tools, programs, or mediums do you use?

Every painting I create is a reflection of society’s idolization of beauty. Everywhere you turn you have these “perfect” images in media and print that are supposed to represent someone every woman can relate to. 9/10 they’ve been photoshopped, had some sort of cosmetic surgery or are overdosing on makeup, jewelry or high end fashion to even fill this role.

In turn this is making our society and, more specifically, women extremely insecure. It’s also making all of the things I just named the norm. It’s like a slap to God’s face. “Your creation wasn’t good enough sir”. The enhancements are really getting out of hand smh. You have to do these things to really feel beautiful about yourself. With that foundation and understanding, I use high end fashion magazines to clip and surgically collage the perfect pieces together to bring my creations to life. You want the perfect lips?

I’ll cut and paste them on you. Perfect eyes? Snip snip. From here I recreate everything and paint these beautifully insecure souls onto the canvas. My work is simply a reflection of the surreal, superficial times we live in. Basically I’m holding up a mirror and asking people to question the importance we place on outer appearances.

Her Royal Eminence by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Her Royal Eminence by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Which piece that you’ve created is your favorite? Why?

That’s a hard one. Every creation holds a different emotional connection. I’d like to think as artists, we love everything we create. I know I do lol, but I also understand some pieces are stronger than others.

I’d probably say Brilliant Dope or Ribbon In Her Eyes. Probably because they both represent moments of change and elevation for me. Not to mention, my fans really love those pieces. That’s important too. Knowing your audience connects with something the same way you do.

What advice would you give to young art artists who are starting to build their portfolios?

Have patience with your journey and take the time to create something truly unique. There’s talent everywhere so that’s simply not good enough. Focus on elevating your talents with every single creation and definitely develop an incredible work ethic. That’s very important. Build amazing relationships as well. You’ll always need them.

Fix Her Up Her by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Fix Her Up Her by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Who is your favorite artist and why?

I don’t know if I’d say I have a fav but I truly respect Salvador Dali, Picasso and Rene Magritte. I can’t say I studied their work, but they were beasts with their craft and definitely opened the doors for surrealist artists like myself. I’m honestly a fan of anyone doing anything amazing and creative.

Tell me about present and upcoming projects?

2015 has been incredibly blessed so I’m excited about everything! Last month I landed a residency at the infamous Hive Gallery in Downtown LA and we have a lot of great shows lined up this year. I’m also currently in 2 other galleries and a couple restaurants. I have a big show next month with Cannibal Flower and I’m actually booked up through the Summer with gallery exhibitions, which has never happened.

I’m very excited! I’m also in the process of launching VakseenArt.com, which will be solely focused on my artist career and then I have my merch store (Society6.com/Vakseen) that has really started to take off. Mind you, we’re only one month in LOL. God is incredible! I’m just working and focused on growing my brand, taking over the LA market and consistently creating great art.

Ribbon In Her Eyes by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Ribbon In Her Eyes by Vakseen (Image courtesy of Vakseen)

Keep up with Vakseen here: Vakseen.com

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And there it is: de la Pen…All Pen Everything. With us, keeping it real never goes wrong.

 

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LoudPen
LoudPen is CEO of ISLP and Co-Founder of 8515. Over the past 8 years, LoudPen has gained extensive experience in lifestyle blogging, writing, editing, production, publishing, marketing, public relations, creative direction, styling, brand management, and event planning. Originally from Cincinnati, OH, LoudPen is based in Dallas, Texas.