Swirlsss cares about Orlando more than most people. Even though she’s currently living in Kissimmee, she’s booking weekly events at Vinyl Arts Bar that feature local music, art, vendors, and more. Outside of that, she’s an incredibly talented painter whose swirls of color incorporate emotion and movement like those of the great expressionist painters. I wanted to meet up with this local person-about-town to talk all that shit and takes some pics of her and her art. Enjoy.
Swirlsss hosts a night of music, art, vendors, and spoken word every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar.
matthew warhol: You were saying that, when you were younger, you weren’t really into art or music.
Swirlsss: Not really.
matthew warhol: Until you were 16, you said? When you took your first art class? Tell me about falling into it.
Swirlsss: That shit fucking changed my life. Having an art class for the first time when I wasn’t in like Kindergarten. All I cared about was fucking school. So when I had a project that was art-based, I was like, “I’m going to go in on this art project.” It was a whole different portal that I never even knew was there.
matthew warhol: Before that you hadn’t consumed much art, either?
Swirlsss: I lost that whole side of me when I was focused on school. So I literally went form one extreme to another extreme, only caring about school and wanting to be a perfect student to art. Art or die. [laughs]
matthew warhol: And is that why you left Valencia?
matthew warhol: What were you going to school for?
Swirlsss: I majored in fine arts, but the first two semesters I was just taking prerequisites. The second semester I only took two classes, but I had a sociology class that was really interesting. Yo, my sociology teacher was wild. He’s a trip man. He was preaching like, “Fuck society. Fuck the norm. Don’t listen to society. Do what you want.” Every single day he would say this shit. And it really inspired me to fuck society.
matthew warhol: That sounds like a real college moment. You have that one teacher that like, “Woah, this opens my eyes to the whole thing. This is what I want to do.”
Swirlsss: Yeah, that shit was a trip because it inspired me to drop out. I didn’t take my final. Honestly, I was dumb because I didn’t take my final but I showed up to the last day of class. My teacher pulls me aside and was like, “Why didn’t you take your final.” And I was like, “I didn’t take my final because I’m dropping out.” And he’s like, “Why are you dropping out?” And I’m like, “Cuz society is telling me to go to school and I feel like I’m an artist. I want to focus on art.” And he was not havin’ it.
matthew warhol: What is art for you? What did you quit school to focus on? Explain to me what all you do.
Swirlsss: This shit, it comes in fuckin’ waves. It’s fuckin’ waves. My art career, in the beginning, wasn’t really an art career. I just wanted to make art.
matthew warhol: What were you making?
Swirlsss: At that point, I was just painting. I would do more realistic things and I slowly got into abstract work. When I dropped out, I wanted to focus on abstract painting and showcasing my art. I think living in Kissimmee pushed me to coordinate events which is what I’m focusing on now. Because there is nothing going on there at all. And I’m an artist living in Kissimmee and there’s nowhere to go. I’m either going to create that space to go or wait. So I tried to do events in Kissimmee and it guided me to do events in Orlando. And that’s what I focus on.
matthew warhol: Your art right now is promoting and planning and connecting people. Cool. What do you like about it?
Swirlsss: There’s a lot of people who don’t have a place to go and are intimidated to go up to anyone and ask to showcase their art. People are afraid to do that. But I knew a lot of those people. They don’t have to ask anyone. I’ll ask them. It’s nice to put people on and bring people together. I know a bunch of people from random places.
matthew warhol: I feel like there are certain people in Orlando that are …. I’ll say local celebrities, personalities that you see around. Those are the people I want to talk to because people know them already but want to know more about them and be there friend. And I think Instagram is a big part of that. You represent yourself as a person who is, uh… you’re creative even in the way you present yourself to other people.
Swirlsss: Thanks. [laughs] I don’t know if I try to do that, but…
matthew warhol: I think it’s just part of being an artist.
Swirlsss: I’m glad that you feel that way because I love artists that do that, that live their life art as fuck. I love living art as fuck, enjoying everything as a form of art — eating food as a form of art, how you dress as a form of art, your aesthetic as a form of art. Even like captions on fucking Instagram — that’s art. You can use that. I try to write poetry on it sometimes. It’s all like a fucking form of art that you can express yourself through.
matthew warhol: Was that something that also started later, like the painting was?
Swirlsss: Yeah, it was a slow process of growing into it. I felt like I was always… different [laughs]. I was always the weird, quiet girl that did her homework in the corner. Even though I was focused on school, I always dressed fucking different. Learning more about yourself pushes you to be more open in a way. I don’t know, you don’t really know too much about yourself. You’re holding everything in, but there are so many different sides of you that you can experience. I feel like my life is experiencing those sides. Going through hair changes and style changes, all that shit is just learning different sides of you and just going through it. Sometimes you want to have long beautiful hair and dress girly as fuck. But then sometimes you’re just like, “nah, fuck it,” and cut it all off and be hardcore as fuck.
matthew warhol: That’s why people do art in the first place, right? You’re hashing it out on a canvas, but you’re also figuring yourself out. But it’s cool. Like you said, you want to take risks.
Swirlsss: Yo, that’s crazy. Life is so fuckin’ art.
matthew warhol: What’s the next thing you have going on? What are you working on now?
Swirlsss: Um, honestly, just coordinating events.
matthew warhol: Do you do stuff every Thursday at Vinyl Arts Bar?
Swirlsss: That’s what my main focus is, doing events there. I’m focused on collaborating with people every Thursday because doing a weekly event is a lot. If I could choose to do an event, I would do it monthly and GO IN and make it more than an open mic night.
matthew warhol: How has it been?
Swirlsss: Honestly, it’s been great. People show up! You kinda see who is your crowd because there are consistent people that always come out. It’s become a family. We always know who’s going to be there and we always see new faces. It’s nice, you can actually see the community in people.
matthew warhol: At your events, you incorporate a lot of different mediums. You have live painting, music, spoken word, vendors. You’re bringing a lot of pieces of the community together and that’s really cool. Orlando isn’t big enough to have all these separate things. It’s everybody supporting each other, coming out.
Swirlsss: Yeah, yo, it’s great to see everybody doing it and supporting it. Like the fuck? That’s how you really grow a fuckin’ city. It’s one thing if one person is doing it, coordinating events. You can’t really grow a community that way because only a certain crowd will keep going. We’re all doing it. And if we all get together and do one big one, that’s some whole other shit.
matthew warhol: So are you not currently painting?
Swirlsss: I’m always painting. I’m always working on things that I never expose because I keep them in hiding.
matthew warhol: *pointing to a stack of paintings against the wall* Are those them?
Swirlsss: Yeah, most of my shit is at my other place. My mom just brought these, bless her soul. These are a work in progress. This one I feel like it’s almost finished.
matthew warhol: So like, what’s your set up when you’re painting?
Swirlsss: I usually just lay on the fuckin’ ground.
matthew warhol: And you just add a layer and let it dry, then do something else over it?
Swirlsss: Yeah basically, I try to have a good first layer that is a good color that I want the whole piece to be. This one was different. I did random layers over the whole thing. These two go together.
matthew warhol: In general when you paint, is it similar, hashing it out on the spot?
Swirlsss: I feel like — its crazy — I feel like each layer has layers within each other. A first layer is not even one layer because the first layer is just covering the canvas completely. And that takes so many layers. This one, I feel like doesn’t have a good first layer.
matthew warhol: What are you thinking about when you’re painting?
Swirlsss: Honestly, I’m not really sure how it fuckin’ works in my brain. A lot of times I feel like I have something that I’m visualizing — but I don’t think I’m visualizing something — I’m visualizing a feeling. So when I’m looking at it I’m like, “is this pleasing to me right now? Is this the feeling that I want to express?” Sometimes I want it to feel brighter or darker. You can feel the colors of things. Like, “I need this to be a little more pink. It needs to have a little more pink feeling.”
matthew warhol: Does that go from happiness to darker emotions.
Swirlsss: Yeah, I feel like it does flow through emotions. I feel like the first layer is being like, “aw, fuck it!” I just pick colors that I like.
matthew warhol: I love that. They’re beautiful.
Swirlsss: I feel like I’m just trying to create portals that you can go into.
matthew warhol: Yeah! Do you like going to museums?
matthew warhol: Whenever I do that — in front of any painting, before really looking at it — I blur my eyes and take it in very broadly and see how it’s making me feel.
Swirlsss: Yeah, I’m the same. When I go to museums, I step all the way back and see it from a distance. Then see it from one angle then go to the other. Then get extremely close to it. Really, I feel like I make abstract work. When I go to a gallery, that’s all I care to see.
matthew warhol: Do you think you’re getting more abstract with your work?
Swirlsss: It’s almost the same except now I have a vision. I know what I want to make and I’ve found the technique to make it. Before I didn’t know what I was doing. I was just feeling it. Now, I’m still feeling it but I figured out how I want to do shit. I wasn’t satisfied with my work before. It was almost there, but there were some things that weren’t working out. And I would honestly look up other abstract artists and see what they did.
matthew warhol: Who did you pull from?
Swirlsss: A lot of female artists. Most artists are male, but I didn’t want to be inspired by a male artist. I want a female artist who does abstract work to inspire me. They would get so spiritual with it. I’m like, “Damn!” They would just work with motion and color. So now I try to work with motion.
matthew warhol: So you don’t show anybody this stuff?
Swirlsss: I don’t know, I feel weird hitting people up. I feel like I’m still at that stage. And I don’t showcase any of my work at my events because I’m always putting other people on. Sometimes I’m like, “Damn, did I focus on putting other people on that I forgot to put myself on?”