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Interview: Artist Behind the Beautiful Ballpoint Pen Art

Artist Vanessa Prager is one of those people who can take very ordinary tools like ballpoint pens and make something extraordinary out of them. When I first laid eyes on her beautiful, storytelling pieces, I knew I had to get in touch with her. (See first post here.) Not only did I want to find out why Prager had purposely left certain parts of her pieces undone, I also wanted to ask her to share some more works, particularly ones that have never been seen online before.

Lucky for us, she obliged.

Why did you call the set Love You Too?
I try to never have too much significance on words surrounding my work, but they still need titles! It is actually a Beatles song title (I often pull titles from my itunes library) and this one worked for what the show as a whole represented. I particularly liked that it's a phrase whose words broken down should hold a lot of meaning, but at the same time it's a seemingly incomplete sentence so it comes across as aloof and insincere.

Can you explain why there's an incomplete feeling to each of your ballpoint pen drawings?
I don't consider it incomplete really, in fact I feel when done correctly it completes the image. But there are definitely parts of the pages left untouched. I often use a strong light source as a focal point in my paintings, but with drawing there is no white pen. The undone versus done areas are meant to draw and detract attention in an image. It's really about the dynamics of it all, building it up and taking it away. I build up in layers finding levels of intensity that in the end communicate emotion…or are meant to ignite it.

Why did you choose to draw on vintage sheet music?
I like the yellowing of the paper. Using only two strong colors, red and blue, and then empty space, when that space is stark white it's too abrasive. Also I like the lines of the music paper they add another dimension to the image that you see but kind of ignore to get to the drawing.

From your point of view, how do you think the art world has changed with the rise of the internet?
I am not so up to date on the art world, but I do know the amount of people that have access to things they never could have before and the ease with which people are able to share ideas, images, etc has increased so much with the internet. There is no reason at all for someone to not be able to share their work these days, and with that comes new opportunities for all fields, including the art world.

Can you give us some advice for artists just starting out?
Hone your skills and be professional about what you're doing. Continue to do that while making work and putting it out there. There is no substitute really. But be sure not to give up too easily because it really does take persistence in this world to get anything of value, but isn't that the fun of it really? The number of people I meet who gave up before they even tried…is silly really!

Thank you so much for sharing more of your work and for the interview, Vanessa. Love Love You Too! Vanessa Prager's website

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