Vianne Venter

Cover Illustration by Vianne Venter


Tell us about the image on this issue’s cover.
When we started thinking about cover images for this issue, I was keen to create a new image for one of the stories but the deadline was against us. Then Joe hauled this picture I did for Richard Kunzmann’s story ‘Lost In Recollection’ (from Issue 8), out of the archives of his brain – he thought it would work perfectly for ‘The Disposable Man’, by Thomas Carl Sweterlitsch. And I had to agree. It has all the darkness of the story’s sooty rain, and the sense of flight that drives McKinley… even the blurry, disintegrating edges of the figure itself work with the story. I’m a huge fan of reinventing and reinterpreting art. In fact, for most art forms, I don’t think the work is complete until it’s subjected to the interpretive gaze of the audience. So I love that this piece has gotten a second life, a second story. It’s like an actor taking on a new role.

What was your medium?
Joe and I actually collaborated on this one. I drew the original on paper using pencil and ink, and Joe overlaid the vertical lines of the rain digitally. My feeling tends to be that the piece needs to be realised by whatever means necessary – I do in some sense think the image has a right to life, or that it’s waiting to be born, and that my job is to serve as conduit to make that happen. So I’m all for using what ever medium and mix of techniques is needed to get the job done. That goes for collaborating too. The piece was good before Joe got involved, but it wasn’t finished. The rain was part of where it wanted to go. For this reincarnation, Joe tinkered with the colour and contrast a bit too, and I’m really happy with the results. This gives me a sense that the piece is still alive, in progress, evolving. Which makes me very happy.

Is this typical of your work?
Most of my stuff is figurative, though I occasionally do very realistic renderings of faces or objects. My principal subject is figures, and then usually female, though male faces are drawing me quite strongly at the moment. So yes, this is typical, though the biggest complaint I get when people look at my portfolio is that my work varies too much and they can’t latch onto a style. And my response to that kind of has to be, ‘Ag shame’. I pretty much feel the same way about that that authors like Lauren Beukes and Sarah Lotz feel about being categorised – like, could you just try to enjoy the product without worrying so much about what box to put it in?

What are you working on at the moment?
It’s been a while since I was really in the routine of drawing consistently, so I’m trying to get back to basics – figure studies and portraits, just to get the muscles used to working again. But really most of my recent work has been abstracts – mostly done in pencil or wax crayon while trying to convince my 18-month-old to put more colour on the paper than in her mouth.


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