It’s fitting that I found out about Whitegrlart via social media before seeing her work in person at the F-Factor office (they have since moved, but at the time I was there this work was hanging in their reception area). The brainchild of Dara Piken, Whitegrlart is perfect for the social media age. Her work is bold, colorful, memorable, and totally original (and Instagram-able…obviously) – yet we can all relate to most of her pieces. Who hasn’t accidentally “liked” an Instagram image from 97 weeks ago! Curious to find out more about this obviously talented New York City-based artist, I sent her some questions.
How did the idea for white girl art come about?
Whitegrlart started in response to my senior thesis at School of Visual Arts. I was struggling with content for my pieces and I felt as though I was trying too hard. Since we all know that trying too hard never did anybody any good, I decided to take the opposite approach… Do less. My eclectic classmates, while always so nice, overtly used to judge me for my seemingly privileged upbringing. I decided to embrace the stereotype and create art with it. Once I started posting it on social media and “owning” it, I obtained quite a following. I pride myself on my honesty, and Whitegrlart speaks volumes to that.
It can’t be easy to get your name out there as an artist. True to your art, have you been using social media to bring awareness to your brand?
Social media is EVERYTHING to an upcoming artist nowadays. I have been able to reach so many different people all over the world simply by throwing an #art hashtag on things. While it may be annoying to your friends and people not interested in art, the dedication to posting constantly will speak volumes to your commitment to your craft. Most, if not all, of my business is through social media. Those who haven’t heard of me through social media have heard of me through their friend who found me on social media. It is all relative.
What’s day to day life like for an artist?
Hmm. It varies. It starts with, as do with most professions, coffee. Even if you have no office to be in, it is super important to keep yourself on some sort of a routine. That will be your best friend on your road to success. In preparation for a show, I usually would be up by 7 and painting by 7:30 the latest. In between paintings (I usually work on more than one at once), I will answer emails, contact the gallery hosting me to go over details, and post ALL my works in progress on social media. What I’ve noticed through my own relationship with Instagram as well as my peers, people love to feel like they know you. The idea of being super relatable makes you much more affable. I try and keep myself totally transparent for that exact reason. By the end of the day, I have hopefully come close to finishing my pieces and my eyes are seeing spots. I put in 11 hour days so I always give myself the night to socialize and do what I want. However, I am ALWAYS selling. There isn’t a person I meet who doesn’t know by the end of the conversation that I am an artist and I am having a show at this date and at this place. I own it!
What are your price points?
The paintings are in the high hundreds, low thousands. They are all relatively large and are painted with very high quality paints. However, I do always account for my age and my “fan base” to say the least. All of my paintings come in a smaller, signed, print form. Those prints are all under $100.00 and allow my buyers the option and range.
Have you ever thought of printing your art on other mediums to make them more accessible (like shirts etc) or do you see that as cheapening the brand?
I cannot say I would ever do t-shirts, but I am totally open to other mediums. If I were to move my artwork to other mediums, I would also feel I need to change my content. I don’t believe my current content really can be on anything else than a canvas or a paper.
What can we expect from you to come?
I have been really into my drawings lately. I have always wanted to make an adult coloring book and I think that is where my next move is going to be. I have also been writing a lot. I have a few chapters written so far and an outline as well, so we will see what will come of that. I don’t think painting Disney princesses is going to be my end all be all and I think the complexity of who I am as well as what I do will surprise and please my following!
For information or to buy any of her work, Dara can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.