I've been procrastinating on writing the intro for this interview for months because I didn't know how to properly describe the magnetism of Vanessa Chavez's art. Completely self-taught, her work is darkly delightful. Although there's a clear horror influence, her pieces are also sharply sensitive.
Her most recent portraits of the cast members of Euphoria, made using Procreate, capture the glitzy editorial makeup the show is known for, but also the depth of the characters. Her latest work demonstrates immense capability and it would be easy to say she is at her peak, but she is constantly evolving-- from creepy-cute style drawings, to minimalist ink sketches, to more realistic studies, and I find myself consistently eager to see what she does next. Watching her trajectory is nearly as captivating as the individual pieces themselves.
But I think what draws me to her art is that, despite the mild alterations to her style, there is always an underlying certainty, a sort of confidence. Her work has never felt amateur. The alluring gaze of her portraits, the twinkle in their eyes, seems to dare the viewer to challenge their legitimacy (of course, the audience would never dream of questioning it). This firmness is what I love most.
Who are your biggest inspirations?
I get this question a lot and sometimes I have to really think about it. My family raised me to always work hard and to get a stable 9-5 job that makes you money. I was shamed for wanting to be an artist, so I would have to say that had to be my biggest motivation. I would just listen to music and zone out the negativity. Music would take my thoughts and emotions into a whole different universe. I don't think I could pick who in particular are my inspirations, but listening to music has definitely been a huge inspiration for me. What work are you most proud of? I am always so proud of the commissions I do for people. To see the smiles on their faces, the kind words, and the consistent support; makes me so proud to be an artist. As times goes on, I see my progress and that makes me so proud of myself. I used to doubt myself so much, I was ashamed to show people my drawings. Now, to wake up everyday and feel proud of the work I produce is the most indescribable feeling. What’s one thing you would like to tell your younger self? If there was one thing I could tell my younger self, is to just keep pushing and never stop. There were so many times in my art journey where I completely gave up and went many months without even thinking about it. I was so careless, I was going through so much in my family life that the dark place consumed me to a point where I couldn't even bring myself to do simple tasks anymore. I wish that I had someone that guided me in the right direction when I was younger because I would have been so much farther in my art career right now. Regardless, I am still happy where I am right now and it really has been a difficult journey, but I wouldn't change a thing. If you could time travel, what decade would you most want to live in? Most definitely the 80's! I am a huge fan of glam metal and heavy metal in general. That was the music I consistently listened to throughout my teen years, the lyrics are what inspired almost all of my artworks. I watch a lot of YouTube videos of these old 80's concerts and I always said that I wish I was there. Just leather, denim, studs and teased hair are definitely my aesthetic. How do you hope your art will change in the future (if at all)? All I really hope for is to constantly grow. I want to learn so many other mediums and create the crazy ideas I have in my head on paper. I can't quite do that just yet, although many people look at my art and say "how do you think of these things?!" Trust me, the art I create is not as creative as the images in my brain. What do you think you’ll miss most about this time in your life? Honestly, I don't think I will miss anything about this part of my life. I feel like I'm in that weird stage in life where I constantly question "what's next?" I want to have stability in my life and I just haven't gotten to that point. Maybe later in life I will miss this feeling of starting something that has so much potential. I do worry a lot about my future but all I can really do is continue to push myself. What do you hope to communicate to the world through your art? Something very important to me (and I express it a lot on my Instagram), is mental health. My goal is to get people to see my art and relate to the emotion I put into it. I don't draw things "just because", there is always a deeper meaning and sometimes people catch it really quick. I want everyone I come across to know they aren't alone, and the power that art has over my mental health is so strong. It's the way I heal and I hope that my art will be able to heal other broken souls. Why did you choose wrathhhchild as your moniker? Like I said earlier , music has always been a huge part of my identity. My favorite band since I was 13 years old is Iron Maiden, and one of the first songs I heard from them was "Wrathchild". It basically means an angry kid whose father wasn't around and that was plotting revenge on him. At that age I related to it because of my personal life and I just kept that name in my mind for when I decided to use social media. When I decided to open my shop I wanted it to be Wrathchild and the reason it has 3 h's is because in the font I use for my logo it looks like "666" which refers to another Iron Maiden song. What’s something people would never guess about you? So many people are shocked when I tell them I am completely self taught. I taught myself how to draw, how to use colored pencils, how to paint and how to do digital art. But those aren't the only things I taught myself how to do! I taught myself how to do makeup and SFX makeup, I taught myself how to dye and cut hair, I taught myself how to sew, I recently learned how to install wigs, and I taught myself how to cook, where now I can create delicious vegan meals without the help of any recipes. I also grew up without having a lot of money so I always told myself "why would I pay someone when I can do it myself?" and that has always been my mentality!