The BAF is proud to present the VMF Insider Series – a series of micro-interviews with Vancouver Mural Festival artists leading up to the festival’s opening on August 20. For the second installment, we speak with Ilya Viryachev, Shannon Elliott and Nomi Chi about their practice, style, and upcoming work.

10:30am by Ilya Viryachev, courtesy of ilyav.ca

ILYA VIRYACHEV

Ilya Viryachev’s work spans a wide array of mediums and styles. Employed by day as a concept artist in the booming Vancouver video game industry, his personal practice includes traditional canvas painting as well as art installations and murals. Constantly growing and challenging himself, Ilya brings great skill and talent to his lifelike depictions of diverse subjects. He is active in the local arts community and has exhibited at Hot Art Wet City and Ayden Gallery, among others.

1. Tell us a bit about your work and who you are.

My name is Ilya Viryachev and I am an artist originally from Kazakhstan, now living in beautiful British Columbia. I work as a concept artist, but all of my free time goes to pursuing fine art, including my latest obsession of painting murals. Although I tend to lean towards an impressionistic style in my canvas paintings, my murals and other kind of art spread over a vast variety of approaches. I like to challenge myself and explore different aesthetics, and especially enjoy diving into illustration kind of look. I believe I will naturally fall into a specific ‘style’ while learning and getting better at this thing called art.

2. Describe your Vancouver Mural Festival project – where is it, and what are you working on?

I will be painting a wall with James Knight on Main Street and 13th Avenue. The wall has an interesting shape that has a long rectangle with a taller, almost square part. It also has a couple of windows, so it provided a challenge and an opportunity to come with an interesting composition. We will explore the themes of discovery, childhood, and curiosity. James and I being figurative painters, we chose the main subject to be a kid surrounded by nature and all kind of interesting elements.

3. How does working on a large-scale mural fit into your existing practice? How have you had to adapt your style, and what challenges does that present?

I have been painting murals for the last two years and I try to make each one a new learning experience, and a different challenge. As I mentioned above, I love illustration and I feel like murals cater to such style a lot more, as it is so key to design a well thought out composition that is easily recognizable from distance, that can tell a story. Painting human figures on large scale is probably one of the tougher things to do, as proportions can be easily broken and are tough to keep in check. But it is also why it is so gratifying to execute a dynamic figure with recognizable features. I am sure I will keep bouncing back between studio work, digital work and mural, as all of them inform one another, and I gain a lot of knowledge by having an ability to practice all of these fields.

courtesy of nomi-chi.com

courtesy of nomi-chi.com

NOMI CHI

The dark, feminine beauty and distinctive style of Nomi Chi’s work has made her one of Vancouver’s most sought-after tattoo artists and garnered her a large online following. She primarily works out of Gastown Tattoo parlour, in addition to practicing as an illustrator and gallery artist. While she has created large three-dimensional work in the past, her VMF project will be her first mural, and we can’t wait to watch her unique visual language translate to this new form.

1. Tell us a bit about your work and who you are.

My name is Nomi Chi! While my most prominent body of work comes from my tattoo practice, I otherwise hover somewhere between professional illustrator and gallery artist. Much of my work is figurative – I draw a lot of women, animals, and animal-women.

2. Describe your Vancouver Mural Festival project – where is it, and what are you working on?
I am assigned to work in the Mount Pleasant area, on an enormous “Z”-shaped wall. I’d like to keep the subject matter a surprise until the final unveiling!

3. How does working on a large-scale mural fit into your existing practice? How have you had to adapt your style, and what challenges does that present?

This is an entirely new direction for me, an experience for which I am equal parts scared and excited. A lot of my work – especially my newer work – is quite provocative and dark in nature. It is definitely a challenge to downplay that facet of my art while staying true to my style and vision. Also, because of the sheer scale of this project, I’ve had to enlist help – and I am usually a very solitary worker. I welcome these challenges with open arms, and am stoked to see if and how this project will influence my future work.

courtesy of Shannon Elliott

courtesy of Shannon Elliott

SHANNON ELLIOTT

Also a prominent member of the Vancouver tattoo scene, Shannon Elliott excels at detailed, monochromatic portrayals of natural subjects, primarily animals and plants. Working at Black Medicine, one of the most exciting new local tattoo studios, her expert use of line and shading makes all her tattoo work timeless and classic, yet still absolutely unique. Catch her and Nomi Chi together in Dirty Knees – a group show exploring half-Asian identities, opening August 12, 2016 at Untitled Art Space.

1. Tell us a bit about your work and who you are.

Hi, I’m Shannon Elliott. I work as a tattoo artist at Black Medicine Tattoo right here in Chinatown in Vancouver, BC.

2. Describe your Vancouver Mural Festival project – where is it, and what are you working on?

I’m doing a portion of a wall right off Main Street at the Arts Factory building. It’s going to be in my usual style—very floral, very nature-inspired, but also kind of subversive. I like to take inspiration from very restrained sources such as Audubon and Pierre-Joseph Redouté and make them say something weird and disturbing.

3. How does working on a large-scale mural fit into your existing practice? How have you had to adapt your style, and what challenges does that present?

I’m planning something a lot more colourful than my usual work — I primarily tattoo only in black ink. However, my original art practice is based around colourful, multi-layered acrylic paintings, so I think it’ll be fun blowing it up and working on a bigger scale. I’ll probably stick to flatter colors and a more paint-by-numbers approach to make my life easier. I have a bad habit of starting projects overly detailed and then running out of time, so this will be an exercise in restraint for me.

Nomi Chi, Shannon Elliott and Ilya Viryachev will be featured alongside over 30 other artists in the Vancouver Mural Festival, officially opening August 20th, 2016. For more information, find them at http://vanmuralfest.do604.com/

Text by Genevieve Michaels, Ilya Viryachev, Nomi Chi and Shannon Elliott.