Q&A: Vanessa Prager, Artist and WeSC activist
Twenty-six years ago Vanessa Prager was born in her grandmother’s back bedroom. Since then she’s evolved into a self-taught painter and risen to the level of art prowess with her signature blue and red ballpoint pens and an extensive collection of colorful oil paintings. She’s been showing in and out of galleries around LA for a few years now and I swear either you or someone you know owns a piece of hers. We caught up with her to find out about art, fashion and the difference between friend and collector.
So Vanessa, were you always an artist and if not how did you get started?
Well, I went to boarding school as a teenager and started drawing while I was there. All of a sudden all the free time that I hadn’t known what to do with went towards drawing. It made me feel so free, doing something that I chose and that I actually liked to do!
You’re a WeSC activist, so I know fashion is important to you. Do you think fashion and art cross paths?
Yes, how could they not really? Both are major cultural staples. The most obvious way is when artists depict fashion and styles of an era in their work. I tend to do this, as do many artists. It’s almost like a fashion statement in itself!
Is there any fashion throw-back moment or item that gets you excited? why?
I love 30′s and 40′s inspired clothes. The cut of the pants, waist on the skirts and dresses, hats and hairpieces. I love the glamour of it and the shape of clothes of that time tends to suit my body type well.
What about your personal style? Who are the designers you love?
Besides wearing something WeSC practically every day I mostly wear vintage. And have for the longest time. Something about picking through thrift or vintage stores really appeals to me. I love finding a diamond in the rough.
What is your favorite purchase of late?
My leather Il Bisonte bag. It’s amazingly simple but beautiful. I love it.
What do you like to wear to an opening?
Something pretty and comfortable.. I’m always searching for an understated dress, specifically something that doesn’t fall off my shoulder every time I hug someone, I’ve had that problem before!
It’s been said the subjects you draw are “apprehensive” and sometimes “unsettling”. Do you agree? What is it about this sort of feeling that appeals to you?
Well I don’t intend to per se, but I do prefer that over a straight up happy go lucky guy/girl standing before you without a problem in the world. It’s just not as real to me. Not that I’m always unsettled, but more it’s an exaggeration of things, which is a common tool used to get a message across.
This may be a big question, but is there an overall message you want to convey as an artist?
Big question for sure. I feel like even if I did know how to answer it, if I said it I would just blow it. People would be like, what, that’s all?? man!
You always have celebrities at your shows, either hosting or as guests. Are they friends or collectors first? And do you have a lot of friends that become collectors, or vice versa?
I have had some of my friends host shows, Danny Masterson is hosting my next show, Michael Pena hosted my last one and Erika Christensen the one before that. It’s fun to work with your friends. And yeah definitely, it goes both ways! Most people who buy my work deal with me directly as I do most of the work for my shows and selling, so sometimes random collectors turn into people watching me blow out candles at my birthday or we’ll work together on a project, etc. And likewise at my first show about 75% of the people who bought were my old friends. It was amazing. Now most of my friends own something or another of mine and new people who buy become friends all the time, it’s great!
What’s next for you?
My next show Across the Universe is June 2nd. I’m showing new small scale paintings and drawings along with an installation. For anyone who attends it should be a fun experience! It’s a one night only pop-up show in LA so you either see it or don’t. You can visit my website for the details vprager.com