Millennials. You can't live with them (unless you are one) and you can't live without them. At least, that is what the general media implies with constant and unnecessary articles about the generation being lazy, not following Jesus enough, and not being appreciative of the world around them. What's great about all of those accusations is that you can say it about any generation. The fact that Millennials get to be the scapegoat, makes it even better to prove that those making the accusations in the first place, are too complacent to realize this train of thought is nothing new.
Each generation will always have something peachy to say about the succeeding generation, and therefore this is a war that cannot be won. We can however, have fun with it. The best weapon is sweet, sweet, ironic satire (because the accusers will probably not understand it). Thankfully, Milwaukee has Victoria Wallace, the hero Millennials' deserve. With what some might call perfect expression, Wallace has captured the aforementioned irony with outstanding drawings that can be described as "modern day memes".
MM: How are you doing and what have you been up to?
VW: I’ve been really well! I work just about full time as a supervisor at Starbucks, which is weird, because I was worried that kind of schedule would get in the way of a creative process. It’s actually helped a lot because the time that I do have off has become way more precious and is almost exclusively devoted to working on drawings. I’ve also been eating a lot more Sour Patch Kids, but drinking more tea, so I think it balances out.
MM: You're a fairly recent graduate of UW-Milwaukee's Peck School of The Arts. So far, would you say that your technique, style, and content have changed in your time outside of the classroom? Is there anything that you miss about being in school? What has been your greatest challenge since graduating?
VW: Looking back, I had a strange dynamic with academia. The style I’ve cultivated over the years came from side projects I worked on in my sketchbook when I was frustrated or procrastinating on an assignment. At the end of it all, I’m not sure if I could peg my technique to anything I necessarily learned in a class, but I also don’t think I would’ve become the artist I am today without my four years in that environment. I can also credit that to those I shared studio time and spaces with. Yea, we were all scheduled to share time together, but it inevitably became more than that. Being surrounded by creative souls and having sounding boards for ideas and insights was priceless, and easily is the number one thing I miss about art school.
MM: From the viewer's perspective, one may describe your illustrations as a uniquely clever combination of witty, playful, seductive, and downright beautifully strange. What is your process for developing your ideas? What inspires you in these pieces?
VW: Thank you! I think they’re the most honest representation of how my brain works. I have running lists I keep in my phone and sketchbook that could easily get me institutionalized if anyone else got their hands on them. The oldest one dates to 2011, and the most recent one was written in October. It literally just says “butt wallpaper” without any further explanation. I honestly can’t remember what I meant when I wrote it, but it will probably become a drawing within the next 6 weeks or 6 months.
I had a friend once call my drawings a play on the modern “meme” which is probably the most appropriate description to date. I’m comfortable with satirically poking fun at our generation and usually use personal experience as examples, and from there my collection of one liners enter into play. They’ve come from my memories, song lyrics, strangers, people I love, people I don’t love anymore, and so on. Eventually, when it feels right, those phrases get paired with a drawing. The two separate entities of text and image inform one another and become the obsessively-drawn cousin to the “meme.”
MM: You're a big supporter of Milwaukee's art scene. Has the culture of the city had effect on your work? How has it affected you as a creative individual?
VW: Milwaukee’s art scene is one of the most open, welcoming, and supportive cultures I’ve experienced and I feel extremely lucky to be a part of it. We’re a scrappy bunch, but it’s full of love and opportunity. Our DIY nature invites anyone to join and motivates artists such as myself to constantly create and share, even if it’s just a drawing of a babe’s legs trapped inside a hot dog. Music and art even blend together in the most seamless way-- posters for shows become works of art, the shows become spaces to showcase artists, and then there are gallery spaces that become venues. It’s a friggin’ magical place.
MM: Where are you hoping to take your work next? Any new projects happening in the near future?
VW: I’ve recently started selling prints of my work and that path will keep expanding. The Internet is also a rad place that puts you into contact with creatives you wouldn’t normally meet on the street. I have a Skype meeting this week for a potential collaboration. What do you even wear to a Skype meeting? I haven’t totally figured it all out yet, but everything has been really falling into place and I couldn’t be more jazzed.
MM: Do you currently have a piece that you've made that is of particular importance to you, and why?
VW: My “Jesus drank wine, I’ll be fine” drawing is one of the only ones I could never sell. It’s definitely meant to be funny while also delivering a big ol’ middle finger. I know it’s kind of ridiculous to sum yourself up based on some ink on a piece of paper, but in a weird way I see it as the most accurate representation of me as a human.
MM: Favorite spot/thing to do in Milwaukee?
VW: I’ve been spending more time in the Fifth Ward/Walkers Point area. I have a bad habit of getting bored easily, so I like to frolic. There’s never a real destination but it keeps you busy. It usually breaks down to the formula of getting a mocha at whichever coffee shop I see first, bantering to the barista about the weather or my inability to keep succulents alive, setting up a spot to draw, and playing the same album on repeat for hours.