Seattle might be notorious for niche coffee shops and scenic waterways, but locals know it's also home to an array of people who love to create. This city is chock-full of artists who we love to feature weekly on Seattle Refined! If you have a local artist in mind that you would like to see featured, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org. And if you're wondering just what constitutes art, that's the beauty of it; it's up to you!
Seattle Refined: How long have you been creating? Do you work with other mediums?
Jersey Virago: I have been creating things since as far back as I can remember. I was always cutting things up and making little crafts, and outfits for dolls and things. I have been making my own clothing designs since middle school. I would stay after school and my home economics teacher taught me how to make patterns from my sketches, which I then made into wearable designs. most of the time I work with fabric, and vinyl, but I do like to mix it up and work with paints, metals, feathers, jewelry, etc. Really its just whatever is around and inspires me. It could be something like: embellishing a pair of shoes, painting a jacket, making a crazy eyepatch, mask, or a whole outfit.
Can you tell us about your artistic process and how the different stages work into it?
It usually starts with a thought or idea sparked from somewhere. I either sketch it out first, or think it out in my head. I imagine how it will look, move, and function. Sometimes I have to play around with the fabric or whatever it is to be able able to figure out exactly how it will work and how it will go together. Sometimes I don't know exactly how I will do it, I know what the outcome will look like, and I know where I can start. Everything just kind of falls into place and the thing I am working on becomes a reality. There are other times when the process is more organic. In times when I'm feeling emotional I sometimes will take that emotion and turn it into something wearable. It is a good way to get my feelings out in a healthy way, and I feel much better after working on something for a while.
Tell us about where your inspiration for your art come from?
Inspiration can come from anywhere and anything. I would say that I am always inspired by music, my feelings and experiences, pop culture ,strong, fierce, yet feminine female personas, and of course Alexander McQueen. I am self taught with no formal education, and I also don't leave the house very much. So, when I exposed myself to something new it opens up my mind to all these new thoughts and ideas that I then make into something. My creations are like escapism for me. I am a stay at home mom, with two kids, and I have a huge imagination. I need to get it out somewhere, so by making these things I can fantasize and live in my own imaginary world for a little bit.
Do you have a specific “beat” you like best – nature, food, profiles etc?
I like to make things more avant-garde style. I don't want to make something you can already go and buy somewhere in a store. When you wear or see my pieces, I want to feel something. I want to make people feel confident, strong, sexy, and a bit mysterious. I often make cage elements or masks as a way of expressing protecting yourself, being strong, and standing out. There's always a story or fantasy behind my designs. I tell the models who wear them the story and character they are portraying so they can really bring the pieces to life like the way I see them in my head.
Do you have one piece of art that means more to you, or is extremely special to you?
I would say the pieces I have had on Americas Next Top Model are extremely special to me. That was one of the highlights of my journey so far and I will definitely keep and cherish them forever. Besides those pieces, The things that I put the most work into or represent key moments in my life I cherish the most. If the pieces fit me, of course I want to keep them for myself, so sometimes that can be a problem, as it is hard to part with things I put so much of myself into.
What experiences in your life have affected your art the most?
Growing up in the small town of Camano Island there wasn’t really a lot of individuality and self expression. I think the lack of exposure to things like that has made me very curious and drawn to unique things and and a feeling of going against the “norm.” I am diagnosed with Borderline Personality Disorder. I find that through my art and fashion I am able to express my feelings and it gives me a different perspective on things. I dive into my work as a way to cope with the world around me.
If we want to see more of your work where should we go to find?
You can check out my website jerseyvirago.com, or my social media pages, they are all under the name Jersey Virago. March 30th I am showing my wearable art pieces at an event it Tacoma called, Fashion Is Art! It will be at the Tacoma Art Museum.
What is next for you? Anything you’re working on right now that you’re really excited about?
I am currently finishing up my wearable art pieces for the Fashion is Art show. These are the most complex looks I have ever put together and they are very emotional and make a strong statement. I am super excited to show them to the world! After that I plan on producing a new fashion film with the new designs I created, as well as getting my Look Book done and into the hands of stylists. Then shoot for the stars, and hopefully land somewhere great!
Lastly, how do you take your coffee? We ask everyone!
I brew a pot of coffee every morning at home and drink that with cream and sugar. When I go out for coffee I like to get a Vanilla Latte.