Name: Vicky Leta
Hometown: Brick, NJ
Current town: Montclair, NJ
Job description: Aspiring Illustrator and Cartoonist, Frozen Yogurt shop employee, foodie and Golden Girls fan
I came to Montclair State University with a completely different (and frankly, one-dimensional) idea of who I wanted to be and what I wanted to do with art. I still don’t quite know but now I am learning about the universe with every experience I have and manifesting it in every drawing I do.
I am a sucker for bad puns and metaphors, but even the dumb stuff that makes me happy helps to define my work; and I like so far what I’ve been making.
What are you working on/ describe your work.
Right now my formula for creation is line, color and the human experience: I speak best with line, I add color to set the tone, I always have a story behind my work—even If I don’t know it yet. But ain’t that the fun in it all?
I’m also a goofball, and I’m not beyond putting blunt humor in my drawings.
I always drew as was known as “the artist” in grade school, but the realization that this was what I was meant to do didn’t come until early in college. I had interests in other things, but in my gut I knew not pursuing art would be my biggest regret. I also had many life experiences in that first year that made me cling to drawing and illustrating as a way of catharsis and cheap(er) therapy.
What’s been happening in your life/ what’s next for you?
Just networking, learning and trying to get my work out there. I apply to everything I can and try not to let an opportunity pass me by. If I’m rejected from things, I can learn where I need to improve, or find—better yet—where my art is better suited to be.
As far as my own projects go, comics and hopeful children’s books are next on my list. I am looking to work in editorial illustration as well.
Describe your current state of mind / what’s inspiring you?
I met Craig Thompson once at his book signing for Habibi, and told him that his previous book “Blankets” made me feel less alone. He smiled and thanked me. I didn’t realize it, but In that one comment, we connected for a moment and it was great. I want to connect with people. I want to make work that makes them feel great or at least, a little less alone. If I’m not making a full-scale illustration, I might post a little illustrated phrase or blurb on a thought I’m having, a positive one; and from that, I can connect with a lot of people who might have been looking for that.
Any exhibits coming up/ past exhibits you’d like to mention?
Well, with my school I will be featuring some prints and comics at MoCCA fest. I don’t go to these things expecting to sell but I need to at least try and network. A piece of mine was shortlisted for Neil Gaiman’s Calendar of Tales and might be showcased in his new project, so there’s a little chance something could happen there. I also am trying for a solo show with the 3.5 Gallery at MSU that will feature non-digital work.
If there are any political undertones, it is in the most comical sense. (I drew Mitt Romney as King Arthur from Monty Python’s Holy Grail, and people on both sides laughed because it was just too goofy.) I like to focus on the internal, not so much the external. Of course, that’s not to say I’m ignorant of what’s going on in the world.
What is one of the biggest challenges you face as an artist?
I think all artists fight to not fall to their own self-doubt. Anyone and everyone can and will tear apart your art, but If you as the artist choose to internalize it and let it overshadow your desires then it is very dangerous. Learn and move on. Don’t give up.
For me too, I am very human, and I have off weeks where I just want to sleep and never wake up or give up on art in total. I just need to wake up, have a cookie and get drawing because it is truly worth it.
Has the meaning of your work changed over time?
Yes and thankfully it’s changing everyday and with every doodle or large-scale piece I do. Keeps thing interesting. I want to say my art is becoming more inclusive for everyone to experience—it’s not just some private drawing for a story no one knows about.
I can’t say I’m specifically apart of any organization or artistic groups right now. I’m looking though. I’m always eager and willing to work with other people and artists. I just need to find people and artists to work with!
What are you listening to these days?
Anywhere from Ellie Goulding to Pavarotti, from The Moody Blues and Jim Croce to Phil Collins and Streetlight Manifesto. I need to listen to music that (and this is the best way I can describe it) makes me feel like I am moving.
I’m a Joisey shore girl and I will be for the rest of my life. I love just walking down the boardwalk of Spring Lake, Point Pleasant or Asbury with some friends—not to take in the novelty attractions but moreso the salt of the air and the sea. A little ways north from me in Long Branch is the Inkwell, a coffee shop where we could hang out late at night and veg. I’m also a lass for the pubs, and Harpoon Willy’s in Brielle is a cool place to grab a beer and just eat fish and chips with friends. I don’t really go to clubs because I end up being the idiot who tries to start a conversation with everyone over the DJ.
What is your ideal job?
I want to be a storyteller, in some way, shape or profession. Illustration for me is just another way to tell stories.
Favorite artists and why/ people in your field whom you most admire:
A friend of mine from school, Claire Connelly, is a pretty amazing comics artist. She’s insane with ink and a brush. I also love and admired the linework and character of Christoph Niemann, Craig Thompson and Raymond Pettibon.
Gustav Klimt, Egon Schiele and Mucha are absolute favorites. J.C. Leyendecker’s portraits of men make me swoon and Elvgren’s pinups make me wonder…
I recently found my copy of e.e. cummings Erotic Poems and can’t put it down.
Favorite authors, fiction:
Kurt Vonnegut, Neil Gaiman and Ray Bradbury. Hands down favorites with books I’d re-read in a heartbeat.
Favorite authors, nonfiction:
Can’t say I’m not a sucker for Deepak Chopra’s stuff. I need a bit of that spiritual uplift now and then.
What was the first piece of artwork you bought/ do you buy a lot of artwork?
Lordy lemons, I wish I could afford all the beautiful art I see on a daily basis! I’ll buy prints if I can, but the Frozen Yogurt business doesn’t pay too well.