Graphic designer, photographer, and digital manipulator Victoria Siemer aka Witchoria is currently living on a houseboat. As part of a residency program, the Brooklyn-based artist has been honing in on her craft and allowing her vision to truly shine. She creates a signature stream of multimedia pieces that are oftentimes depressing and brutally honest. Every line packs a punch, sobers you up a bit. Feelings of loneliness, heartbreak, and grief fill up the text, while Witchoria's backdrops are of stunning national parks, dense forests, stunning snowcaps, and lively beaches. I spoke with the Adobe guru via email and gained a bit of wisdom and insight into her full-time creative life. Enjoy the Q+A below and check out her social media pages after doing so.
How has 2017 been treating you so far?
Can’t complain. Had some bumps in the beginning with my personal life, but things are pretty good right now. I just transitioned out of my full-time career to go full-time artist, so that has been pretty exciting and terrifying at the same time. Right now I’m writing you from day one of my first artist residency program. I’m living on a historic houseboat for the next month concentrating on my photography work, it’s pretty wild!
For those unfamiliar, how would you describe yourself in a couple sentences?
I’m a Photoshop aficionado with adult teen angst.
What's the rest of the year looking like for you?
Well, I’m hoping that I’ll be doing just fine with the freelance lifestyle. I’ve never not had a full-time job though, so I’m not sure what to expect for the road ahead. It’s strange to have so much free time now. I’ve applied to a few other artist-in-residency programs, and I’m hoping I’ll land one of those opportunities.
Your text-based/photography pieces really pack a punch, blending electricity with nature. What are you trying to get across with this style?
More often than not my work is rooted in my emotions, it’s a pretty direct expression of the things that are happening in my life. I keep notes of little statements as they pop into my head, little snippets of my life. Sort of like Hemingway’s micro novels, but rather than flash fiction, it’s more so a flash autobiography.
As for your question on style…I mean in general my aesthetic tends to poke at the dichotomy that exists between Photography and Design. I’m now of the mindset that the categories the art world tries to jam you into are bullshit. I’m a big believer in multifaceted creativity. I spent a lot of time earlier in my career as an artist worrying about where I fit in, realizing none of that shit mattered was really freeing.
What were your art habits like as a child?
I’ve always been creative, but I wasn’t necessarily a super artsy child. The first time a true art habit emerged was when I was in middle school and I got my hands on a camcorder. I got really into shooting and editing short films. Then all of my friends got into bands and since I have absolutely no musical talent the only way I could contribute was by making posters and album artwork in Photoshop for them. Without realizing it I had taught myself the toolset which is the basis of my entire career now.
I saw this movie called The Lobster, where humans have to turn into an animal of their choice if they don't find a mate in 30 days. If you had to choose, what animal would you become?
Can I just become another human? One better at finding love? [Laughs] Never mind, if I did that I wouldn’t have a career as a professional sadgirl. I guess if I had to choose an animal to become I’d want to be an octopus. Mainly because they are thought to have pretty advanced cognitive thinking.
Is your vision constantly shifting? Has your style changed over the years?
I like to think that it’s shifting on a pretty consistent basis. A lot of base themes are ever-present in the work, but it’s all continually evolving.
On a technical level my style has advanced quite a bit in the past few years. I still grind out tutorials on a regular basis so that I can keep up with the software advancements of the programs I use. I’m also getting into learning new tools like C4D. One of the major ways I advance a technique is to repeat the process over and over and over again, because of this I tend to work in series rather than one offs. Each time you redo the process you’ll find more efficient ways of getting to your end target.
I like to go back and look through old files sometimes to see just how much a body of work has changed over time. Photoshop layers are proof of how much a technique has evolved…all I have to do is open an old file and instantly be like “WTF were you thinking Victoria?”
Outside of graphic design, do you have other hobbies/interests?
Recently, I’ve been really into learning the art of neon tube bending, which I hope to bring into my photography process soon. Completely outside of the art spectrum, I’d say a hobby of mine is to collect hobbies. I love learning new skills, but do tend to move from thing to thing fairly quickly. Right now I’m really into crosswords.
What are some studio essentials?
Laptop. Sony A7RII. Adobe Creative Suite. Spotify. One iced coffee every morning, even in a blizzard…but not two because I’ll have a panic attack. Garfield (our quirky studio cat).
What have you been listening/watching/reading as of late?
Listening: My early spring 2017 Spotify playlist.
Watching: Lot of YouTube/Skillshare tutorials. Trying to be as productive as possible at this residency. So less binge Netflixing, more binge learning.
Reading: House of Leaves (4 lyf), and I'm currently almost finished with Solaris.
Do you have any advice for artists working on their craft?
Consistent content creation. Keep making shit and putting it out into the world. Participate in as many networks as you can, as much of a pain in the ass it can be to maintain them. Each has their own special audience. The more places you put your work out there, the more likely it is that somebody is going to look back at it.
Any final words/thoughts/shout-outs? Thank you!
S/O to my creative lovelies Brooke DiDonato, Erica Sellers, Ben Zank, Dave Krugman, and J.N. Silva. You never cease to amaze me. I’m thankful for the friendships we’ve cultivated and for all of the support you’ve given me.