“Sometimes I can just see everything come to place like a perfect puzzle.” – artist Victoria Weiss
Last month, a new mural was added to the wall of Esoteric-Craft Beer and Curated Provisions, a culinary arts restaurant in the ViBe Creative District. The mural features the artwork of local artist Victoria Weiss, who incorporated her signature style with the symbolic triangle found in the restaurant’s branding to create a one-of-a-kind, site specific piece.
Weiss operates Butterpop Studio and describes herself as a mother, artist, illustrator, designer and yoga teacher. We spoke at several points during the painting of the mural and Weiss agreed to an interview at the completion of her project.
You are originally from Taipei and spent most of your life in New York, where you graduated from Parsons School of Design. So what brought you to Virginia Beach?
I have family here and came to visit in the summer of 2005. I was going through huge transitions during that time, was temporarily staying in this area, then I met my husband.
How did you learn about the mural opportunity at Esoteric?
I got tagged on Facebook by friends!
Why were you interested in the project?
I knew it was great restaurant — it has its own garden! I’m really into food. It’s in a neighborhood my daughter is growing up in. So many factors. Though in general any project that feels great when I see the opportunity, I just jump on it and persist. I also feel like if you want to live in an area that is filled with arts, and you are a creative. There must be something that can be contributed visually to make where you live more interesting instead of complaining about it. I definitely have a huge passion for public art as well. Growing up in NYC, with grey and steel buildings, it was so refreshing and inspiring to see art on walls from graffiti to murals to sculptures. It just helps open your mind and your day is enriched.
What inspired the mural artwork?
I have been spending a lot of time in nature jogging and/or meditative walking sessions. The plant patterns were something I have been painting and drawing for a while now. Cicadas and moths show up often in sketchbooks. Mostly because when I see or hear them, it reminds me of childhood growing up in the mountains of Taipei. I’m also a graphic designer and art director — naturally the triangle logo from Esoteric came to my attention while creating the proposal. In this case a marriage of Art and Branding came together in harmony.
When do you feel most creative?
After a good workout session or yoga practice in the morning is when I’m most productive. It helps get me out of any resistance and blocks so I can get moving with whatever I need to take care of. It’s harder being a mom, so I really need to stick to a morning ritual and be self-disciplined in the studio. My closest friends know I text a lot to keep in touch. As it’s hard for me to meet in person. Though I would think, when I’m working and or driving, walking, traveling all kinds of things come up in the brain. Dreams are very helpful too in the creative process, so I try to jot ideas down if I wake up in the middle of the night. Creativity is consistent, I think, when life seems to be in a consistent work mode or at times in dream state. It’s usually an extreme balance of both. Then sometimes I can just see everything come to place like a perfect puzzle. Shapes and colors just start to happen and or start to match.
What do you hope people think or feel when they look at this artwork?
In general, all the art that I make comes from a place of authenticity and mystery. I really carve out the intention of creating art that is conceptually, intentionally and technically sound. Through the years it has become more natural, but never easier. There are always challenges, I’ve accepted that this is me. I’m stopping the comparing and just accept the process and keep going. We all have different perceptions on what good art should or should not be. I think all opinions are valid. If you feel a certain way when you look at my art, I want you to savor it and keep an intimate experience you are having with the art. That’s the connection and relationship created with the whole art viewing experience. It can be deeply personal and you do not need to ask or question it. It just is. If I achieved that with a few people in this lifetime… I’m grateful and have done something significant.
What surprised you the most throughout the experience of painting the mural?
The wall at Esoteric is very rough, basically this large patterned stucco I had to paint on and it also sucks a lot of paint. I think I may have worried too much before starting the project. As some of the line art work that I do were very fine. A combination of primer, spray painting, and brushes were used. It went a lot faster once those layers were down. I’ve had to deal with height issues before with other projects and this was a lot better to deal with. I felt stronger and calmer on the scaffolding and just in general devoted and excited daily to go over there and paint. Usually in the studio, I’m doing a lot of things at once. So being outside with focused project like this painting in beautiful September weather is seriously a dream.
How to you see your work evolving in the future?
That’s a hard question… The labor of love continues with anything I do. I also would love to stick to a discovery process still while making art. Nature is a huge reoccurring theme, as is my cultural background as a half Chinese woman. Motherhood, feminine power in connection with meditative art practices. There is so much I want to accomplish. I would like to complete at least 20 more focused pieces of work as a collection and find a gallery that will represent it properly. Proposals are great, though nothing like just grabbing your paint and brushes and hitting a wall outside. Maybe collaborations… I would definitely like more mural gigs like this, and am open to traveling to other areas as well as locally to make art, outdoors or indoors. I’m looking at also applying grants that will help me travel back to Asia to work with art students in colleges with urban wall art maybe. There are so many possibilities to this evolution. Though one thing at a time.
What advice do you have to mural artists who are just starting out?
I would say, first value what you do as an artist, take on small projects like indoor walls of restaurants. Work yourself up to larger projects to build confidence. Be very clear on your budget, get insurance, keep your standards high and if you do land a really great opportunity, make sure you get paid for your services, materials, labor and time. Get clear on your own contracts. Please do not allow the saying “you will get exposure” to undermine the quoting process. Unless you agree to non-profit projects, that is negotiable depending on your values. What you do is not for free. Especially if you are making a living from this. We all need to pay bills.
Be unstoppable, though a careful and responsible business person too. I know that is easier said than done. Though you’ve got to allow the fire inside you to burn away your fears.
How do you feel when you see images of your mural popping up online/via social media?
I’m very excited, it gives me a pop of energy. I’m filled with gratitude, which gives me happiness and motivation to move forward. We gotta love our tribe hard! This is the power of social media.
To view Victoria Weiss’ mural in person, visit Esoteric is located at 501 Virginia Beach Boulevard in Virginia Beach. The artwork is located on the West wall facing the parking lot. Esoteric is open nightly for dinner; closed on Sundays. This mural and every outdoor mural located in the ViBe Creative District can be viewed online via the ViBe Creative District Mural Map – a Google Map app.