Interview with Cover Artist Vicki Be Wicked

February 18, 2021

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Russell Dickerson has been a published illustrator and designer since the previous millennium, creating works for many genre publications and authors. He has also written many articles for various organizations in that time including Apex.

This month’s cover is by North Carolina artist Vicki be Wicked. Starting with oil painting at a young age, she has been working with digital art for a decade. A self-described lover of pop-surrealism and dark art, her work is a perfect choice for the latest issue.

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APEX MAGAZINE:  This month’s cover art, “Goddess,” features both an intimate personal sense and power over an immense universe. When you are creating a piece like this, do you have a story for the character in mind? Does your daily life influence what goes on the canvas?

Vicki be Wicked: For a lot of my work I tend to create first and then give meaning after. I get a visual idea of something and go for it. Creating an aesthetically pleasing composition is my first move, while being mindful of themes and symbolism. Though I value technique, expression outweighs everything else for me. It’s more about invoking an emotion while being visually intriguing. I like to give people the freedom to have their own interpretations of my work sometimes. With my “Goddess” piece, at the time I was drawing a lot of Black women and wanted to have a piece centered around Black fantasy. 

AM:  Your piece “this chick” is a beautiful vision of malevolent horror. As an artist myself, horror art is often a catharsis. What does creating art mean to you, and what engages you the most in the process?

“this chick” by Vicki be Wicked

VbW: As a Black woman I found it difficult to find other Black artists who painted horror or surreal themes. With social media I’ve been able to see that there are creators like me who dabble in those genres. 

I create because I feel that it’s what I’m good at. My family had been very encouraging to me as a kid and I spent time getting better at art. It’s hard for me to picture myself doing anything that’s not connected to art. Art is the medium that I choose to express myself with. It has been my voice for so many years as well as my outlet from dealing with the troubles of reality. 

I’m a quiet person, though I enjoy social settings, I really cherish alone time and self-reflection. Making art for me doesn’t have to make sense and it doesn’t have to have any purpose outside of that fact that I’m creating something because I want to. I notice my mood becomes more stagnant when I am not putting forth any creative energy. 

Art has the means to impact others and I have found over the years that my art makes people feel either happy, disturbed, confused, etc. There is a connection and I love that art connects people and makes us feel a variety of emotions. Putting my feelings into certain art pieces and knowing that I’m going to receive an emotional response from others is what engages me the most.   

AM: On a recent Instagram post you mentioned wanting to create designer art toys after finding out about the DesignerCon convention. How does your interest in sculpting influence your two-dimensional art, or vice versa?

VbW: Traditional 2D art has always been what I gravitated towards. Though I am crafty with my hands, sculpting was something I never ventured into until this year. My current interest in sculpting and 3D art has a significant influence on my 2D art because I am finally able to express my 2D work in a different medium. I want to find different ways of bringing my art to life and I can do that by being able to have a physical model of my characters.

AM: For some of your traditional art pieces, like “Skull Boy,”  you wrote the details such as it being a 3’ x 3’ oil on canvas painting. Are reactions different on a particular piece when someone sees it at full size in the real world versus a screen? Or one of your pieces online versus on a product from your store? 

“Skull Boy” by Vicki be Wicked

VbW: I think viewing traditional art in person will always have a different effect compared to viewing it onscreen. I find people are still intrigued and shocked by my work when viewing it in person. When I do the artist alley at conventions people say my art is creepy yet bright and colorful. Despite the bizarre themes of my work children seem to flock to my booth, probably because of the vivid colors of my creations. 

AM: On your YouTube channel you feature speed painting and other methods you use to create art. When you are painting live or on video, how does that change your approach? Do you find yourself examining your process more closely than if you were creating something away from the camera?

VbW: I started streaming on Twitch.tv five years ago and still do to this day. Honestly, through streaming is how I finish a lot of my art. At first, I would plan what I was going to make by sketching my ideas offline. I felt I was trying to be “perfect” with my art process. People want to see the process and that includes mistakes and all. I don’t want to portray myself as an artist who nails everything the first time through. By livestreaming I am able to show the mistakes, frustration and many do overs. I don’t want people to think that because I’m an artist that the process doesn’t involve a lot of experimentation. Streaming my art is allowing me to learn to break away from trying to uphold this expectation of perfection. 

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Thank you to Vicki be Wicked for a great interview. Make sure to visit her online shop filled with “weird, dark, neon, geeky, creepy cute themes” at Vicki’s Etsy shop.

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© Russell Dickerson

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