Interview with Artist Llanakila

Victoria Brown aka Llanakila immediately pulled me in with the bright neon colors, moving, dancing in mesmerizing gestures that make up her work. I found it truly addicting, and as soon as I discovered her work, I had to see it all. Fun. Strong. Alive. These are great feelings to feel, and I felt them all viewing her work. Twenty-three year old Victoria earned her BA from Pennsylvania State University in printmaking and she's also studied digital art teaching herself animating and coding. Currently based out of Maryland, she and her work travel frequently, recently a part of Amber Rose’s Slut Walk in Los Angeles, and even more recently part of a hot new mural in the East Village in NYC. The energy of her work is certainly vibrant, and her power is obvious. Check it out for yourself.

You describe your art as a combination of acrylic and digital painting - can you describe your process for combining such seemingly disparate mediums? Why these mediums in particular?

The quickness of both mediums excites me. The wheels in my mind are constantly turning, and I need mediums that can keep up with me. I've always worked really fast. Acrylic dries fast, and both acrylic and digital allow more room for mistakes and reviews.

As far as subject matter, you use lots of bright colors and repetitive gestural marks, which you describe as systematic, syntactical, and symbolic - can you tell us more about what this style represents to you and how you formed it? 

It just flows out of my mind. This style represents language and history of my culture. I don't know how I formed it, that is a question for my ancestors.

I love your simple yet totally powerful description of being drawn to the "infinite possibilities of outer space". Can you tell us more about this fascination and how you convey it through your work? And what other aspects of your worldview are illustrated through your art?

Thank you! I love space. I've always connected stars and searched for planets. I love the idea that there are a million other worlds out there in space. With my work, I like to create art that you wouldn't see in the reality we share through my use of colors and illustrations.

So do you believe  there is other life in the universe? Or other universes beyond our universe? What do you imagine these other beings or places might look like? Or what do you hope they look like?

I absolutely believe there's other life. Life so small we can't see. Another human is not the only example of life, microorganisms exist too. I hope they're blue.

Tell us more about the name Llanakila and why it is significant to you. 

Llanakila is Hawaiian for victorious, and my name is Victoria. I got the name when I attended a luau in Hawaii. I think it speaks to my character as well because I believe I'm winning in any situation. And I put forth extra effort in everything I do.

I see you do a lot of work collaborating with musicians - can you tell us more specifically about a couple of your favorite experiences doing so? And do you make any music yourself?

All of my experiences collaborating with musicians excite me, even ones who don't even ask, but I just end up doing it because I like their music so much: Erykah Badu, Rihanna, Travis Mccoy. When I attended Penn State I would make paintings for artists who played shows, so Big K.R.I.T. and Asher Roth own original LLANAKILA paintings.

I have made music before, about three songs, only my homies have heard, haha.

Your art was recently featured in Amber Rose's Slut Walk in LA - can you tell us more about that experience, why you wanted to be a part of it, and how your participation/work was received? Were you able to attend? Have you been involved artistically in other events like this in the past?

I love what Amber Rose is saying in her Slut Walk. The American language can be divided, gender-specific, and misogynistic with words like Slut, Hoe, Thot, etc. It's ridiculous. I'm about empowering women and embracing our nudity, sexuality, and sexual freedom. I was not able to attend, but my best friend did for me and told me it was very eye-opening. She loved the speech Amber gave in particular stating her forgiveness toward Wiz and Kanye for the mean things they've said about her. I think we all may experience a loving relationship that may have turned cold and ex-lovers say things that aren't nice and that they don't mean. So I believe that was the eye-opening aspect, that almost every female, famous or not, can face slut-shaming too. We should all support each other. I have not been involved in similar events like this in the past, but I would love to in the future.

Who are some women who you look up to or that inspire you?

My mom, my sister, female artists like Lakwena, Deb, Kate Moross, etc.

Have there been any obstacles you’ve had to overcome in your creative journey, and how have you done so?

Sure, many obstacles. Going to college for art for one. Not many people respect it. But they don't see the hours we put in. Most people don't understand how much thinking how much the mind is involved in art - because we don't have as many handwritten tests, yet we would get intense projects to complete and critiques. Having your family support it too - many families want their kids to do accounting, finance, business, etc. My parents joked with me saying I may be a starving artist, but I always told them that would never be the case for me. And I taught myself more than just painting - digital painting, graphic design, motion graphics, animation, even some web design. I never let anything stop me. Another obstacle for me has been dealing with deadlines - deadlines and discipline, one in the same. I say college really taught me these things, but my creative career has really really taught me what it means to be on time.

What are some of your fears; big, small, silly, serious?

Fears? No fears. I hold no fears.

What or where or who is home to you?

Home is where I create it.

What does feminism mean to you?

Feminism to me means empowering yourself and other women in whatever way feels most comfortable to you.