Applying their studies in art history, excitement for horror and queer theory, Brittany Plachecki creates colorful character designs. One of their most recent projects was co-founding Pride Walks Superior, a collaborative initiative to get LGBTQIA2S+ youth involved in an affirming, creative, and kid-friendly-setting. Pride Walks also helped introduce young artists to the process of doing gallery shows, documenting their work, and selling it. Brittany’s pieces are perfect for getting into the spirit of fall and spooky season. View photos of their art and a recent interview about their work below:
Your character illustrations are great! Are there other mediums or subjects that you also like to explore? How would you describe your primary focus?
I love playing with a wide variety of mediums. I primarily work digitally due to its convenience, but I also really enjoy working with inks, watercolors, acrylics, and have dabbled in crochet, sewing, and needlework as well. My main focus tends to be people, particularly fantasy illustrations.
Are there any central themes or values that you lean into or focus on within your art?
In my art, especially recently, I have really begun to focus on depicting and uplifting LGBTQ+ themes. Trans joy has been very important to me this year, given all of the vitriol directed towards the community that’s been ramping up. I want to show that this community is vibrant, joyful, and has just as much of a place here as anybody else in this world. Trans people are beautiful! I’ve switched to a lot of pastels for this reason, as well as fun, fantasy colors to just create very airy, bubbly, hopeful work. I also love creating horror art. I find it’s incredibly common for queer people to find comfort in horror, and I do exactly that! Creating queer horror art is the best.
What have been some of your favorite projects or pieces so far?
This year, my favorite piece I’ve done so far is my reimagining of Bouguereau’s depiction of Cupid and Psyche. I had been feeling a lot of absolutely huge emotions regarding growing anti-trans sentiment across the globe, and I wasn’t sure how to support or to give back. I’m not an overly social person, so it’s hard for me to integrate myself in the community as much as I’d like. This was a love letter to the community, and a promise that trans people are valid, cherished, and wanted. That they have always been here, and always will be. Artists and commissioners alike have used gods from the Greco-Roman pantheon to legitimize themselves in history, and this is no different. I want trans people to see themselves in these ageless, immortal works as well.
What has it been like being a part of the art community here? Are there any things you’d like to do in Duluth that you haven’t yet?
I work in museums and don’t tend to be too involved in the arts community here, though I would LOVE for that to change. I’m friends with several artists in the community, especially tattoo artists! If I could do ANYTHING, I would love to help organize a gallery show. I’ve had them in the past, worked in a gallery, and I’m a pretty good exhibition designer if I do say so myself, so I think I could pull off a nice one. While I’m extrapolating on the idea, I’d especially love to have a big exhibition of queer artists. It would be a good opportunity to show off work, sell work, and for people to directly contribute to helping queer community members locally.
Who have been some of your mentors, artists that have inspired your work, or perhaps instruction that has impacted the way that you approach your art?
My biggest inspiration in my work is honestly giving myself everything I’ve ever wanted. I used to get in trouble in public school for pointing out queer subtext in art and literature. That was before queer theory was more mainstream, and in Missouri. So that tracks. So I suppose what inspires me is my own research and my academic pursuits. I actually pursued art history in response to the opposition I faced. I have both a B.A. and M.A. in art history, and the bulk of my research has been on legitimizing these subtexts both from queer theory and feminist lenses. My artwork seeks to give myself and my community the blatant representation in places where I have seen the subtext. I reference a lot of classical artwork in my own art. As I said above, it’s largely about linking queer people to histories that have tried to write us out.
Are there any other things that have motivated or inspired you to be a creator?
I have been a creator my whole life. I have really bad anxiety, so art was always a way to get me out of my head, not to mention I get a fun product out of it. I love to create really detailed illustrations with a ton of lines or a lot of really intricate color, and take inspiration from fairytale illustrations as well as folk art. I don’t think there is any way I could stop creating. It’s as intrinsic to me as breathing.
What have you found to be some of the hardest parts about being an artist in 2023?
One of the hardest parts about being an artist right now is the demand. People aren’t necessarily demanding more art, but social media site algorithms make it crucial to be some kind of art machine if you want to get noticed. This has ramped up more and more through the years, making it really difficult to try and get or maintain any sort of audience. I absolutely cannot be an art machine, so honestly coming to terms with that has made my creative life easier. I make what I can, and I’m proud of it. I want to get back into traditional art more, and I’d love to have more local presence instead of an online one.
Are there any projects or collaborations you’re hoping to do in the near future? Are you taking commissions?
As I mentioned before, I would LOVE to do a group gallery show! I would also love to work on poster design, shirt design, or album design for local groups. My commissions aren’t formally open, but I’m always down for a fun project here and there.
More of Plachecki’s art can be found on their online portfolio, bplachecki.portfoliobox.net, on Instagram @chickpeaillustration and on Kickstarter (almakarma), where they often release their enamel pins.
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