#ARThags: 3 self-portraits by musician and artist Vanessa Irena

Vanessa Irena

#ARThags: Vanessa Irena, musician and artist

The latest showcased indie artist in our #ARThags series is Vanessa Irena – a NYC-based female solo producer, DJ, artist, author, and practicing magician.

Describe your art in less than 100 words…

I’ve been a musician and artist for pretty much all of my life. I taught myself to draw and play piano at a very young age. I studied painting in college and got my BFA in Fine Art. After college I ended up moving away from painting and drawing to focus more on music and photography. For me, my art, music, magic, and writing are all intertwined, so I will often explore a subject within and through multiple mediums including ritual as a way to experience it fully. My work is heavily focused around spirituality and the body.

Choose 3-5 pieces you really like…

I’m including three self-portraits that speak to me…


I chose this image because it’s probably my favourite self-portrait I’ve ever done. I love the mixture of blood and glitter and feel it adds a surreal quality to this image. It was a promo image for my first solo EP. Blood has always featured heavily in my work both as a physical substance and as a spiritual force. It’s tied into my music and my practice as a witch as well.


I chose this image because I feel like it makes me seem powerful and terrifying. I was raised Catholic and have spent that past several years trying to make sense of that and how that factors into my current worldview and spiritual practices. I was playing on the image of the pope/hierophant here.


This image was meant to evoke horror but also pure exhaustion. The abject terror of simply living, especially living as a woman. I purposely made myself appear as less human here. More like a doll, and lifeless.

What do you aim to capture/reveal/explore in your art? Has this shifted over time?

With my photography I aim to capture moods or emotions that I feel I can’t put into words. I have social anxiety and struggle to express myself verbally sometimes. Photography helps me to do that. It also serves as a type of roleplay. I think it’s not possible for art to not change over time because people do and life does. Even when people attempt to create the same kind of work as they did in the past it always feel inauthentic to me, like a caricature of itself.

Best piece of advice you’ve been given (or given yourself)?

Don’t wait until you feel inspired to start working on something because that may never happen. Also don’t be afraid to put something away for a while and come back to it later, or to scrap something that isn’t working.

Any upcoming projects or things you’re working on right now?

I’m currently working on a new music album as well as a few writing projects. Both will most likely include visual art to complement the work.

Where can people find out more about your art online?

You can read more about me and my art music and writing at my website knifesex.com. You can also follow me on Twitter @knifesex.

Calling all artists with ARThag souls:

If you would like to be featured on Mookychick, please visit our #ARThags artist submissions page.