VW: I am a lot of things. I am a self-employed graphic designer, surface designer, artist, and coordinator of The Royal Bison Arts and Craft Fair. I appreciate having a creative life. I think it would be hard for me to do something that didn't involve creative problem solving with a visual end product - good luck getting me into Engineering School or something like that[laughs].
MU: I am a fashion designer. I love it because it is the only thing I can picture myself doing. There are a lot of challenges, it is a lot of hard work, and at this point I am definitely not rollin' in the dough, but all that aside, I get to work with a lot of cool inspiring people.
Who or what influences you?
VW: My mom is a painter, so she had a fine arts background and a business background too. She actually started Caprice Boutique in the late 80s on 124th street, which was about a block away from where my studio is now. I would say I get all of my creativity from her. My dad is actually a computer engineer, which is basically the opposite of my mom, but I think in a lot of ways I have been influenced by both of them. I have this business brain, and visual arts brain, but I am also very practical too. When it comes to making, I glean a lot of delight from having people like what I make. I really want people to go to their grey-suburban kitchens and place a pop of colour in there - to me that has a lot of value.
MU: My dad is in sales, but if he could have been, I think he would have been an artist. Growing up, he was always making stuff. I am definitely inspired by him. As for my collections, I am inspired by travel - seeing new cultures, watching people, and exploring their crafts. It's a way to clear the canvas and make room for new images, new ideas, and new inspiration. I am also inspired by fabric - for me, I buy fabric before I know what I will do with it. It sits on a shelf, I stare at it, and I see where it takes me.
Piece of advice you need to take just as frequently as you give?
VW: Be kind to yourself. Have faith in your process and pat yourself on the back more often. Don't give up - people often give up too soon.
MU: Trust yourself and listen to your instincts. As an artist, you have a vision, and even if you can't articulate it, you have to go with your gut - you can't let anyone else be the artist for you. You need a distinct voice more than anything, even if someone else thinks it is a crazy voice. You are the master of your own destiny, so go out and get it done.
MU: I read a lot. I just finished a series called The Neapolitan Novels by Elena Ferrante. It's about women and their friendships - it's absolutely incredible, and I recommend it to everyone. The series is real, poignant, and focuses in on the inner workings of friendship - I think everyone can relate to it.
Biggest item left on your bucket list?
VW: I think I have professional bucket list things and then life bucket list things. Pattern wise, I would love to work with some European companies and design really out there textiles for a European market - they seem to be much more open to that stuff.
MU: I have so much that I still want to accomplish. I want to build a house, maybe have a baby [laughs], travel everywhere - I guess it is just the simple things.
What keeps you moving forward in your business?
VW: It's survival. What I have learned is that I get really nervous if I am not making enough money. When I have sent all my invoices out, collected all the money, and I sit back and go: this isn't enough - I get nervous. That is the point when I go, okay it is time for three new tea towels, I have to design a whole new range of textiles, and let's start planning a market schedule for the next season. I go to work. I make a list and I get it done.
MU: For me, it is the fashion schedule. I have four large deadlines per year where things get really crazy. The months in-between allow me some flexibility, which can be good, but also means I have to fight the urge to procrastinate. Ultimately, at this point I know that I have to keep going or I will ruin everything I have worked so hard to build. I am my toughest critic, so every time I make a new collection I am motivated to make it the best one I have ever done.
VW: Is yet to come [laughs].
MU: I am always creating a new body of work, so I am most proud of what I last created - from there I am always trying to make the next one better. I also get a lot of joy collaborating with other people, so I think I tend to be the most proud of work that I have done with someone else.
Words to live by?
VW: I love saying, just because you can, doesn't mean you should. It is my mantra for minimalism. It is my mantra for making sure you are keeping things tight, and to really remember that if you have a good idea, you really need to look at it from all angles before moving forward. A lot of times for me, working in patterns, I work in reverse. I will go too far and then pull back.
MU: I am going to steal Vikki's answer [laughs]. I love that!
What moment have you recently experienced that has made you feel strong as a woman?
VW: As I get older, and meet more women, and know them longer, I can see how we are socialized to be nice and to go along with the status-quo. My Dad raised me to reject this. I'm Polish - I was taught not to accept BS. The other day I met with a guy who wanted to buy my vehicle. He responded to my online ad and showed up for a test drive. He said it was great, and then went on to offer me half of my asking price. I rejected his offer and the look on his face was priceless. I don't think he expected me to push back - I really think he couldn't process that a woman was telling him no. I think that our role as women, a lot of the times, needs to be us saying "no, actually, this is how it is going to be." I took extreme pleasure in being able to do that.
MU: Isn't it funny? Sometimes it feels like there are so many more moments that make me feel frustrated to be a woman in the workforce than there are that make me feel strong. BUT I love being a woman and I would never change that. My mom is so amazing at asking for what she wants, and she typically gets it. I often shy away from this, but I think I am beginning to learn from her - ask for what you want, and don't be afraid to say no.
Complete this sentence: To me, beauty is _____________________.
VW: Power. I have female clients who wield multi-million dollar budgets and I think it is amazing that they got where they are in their generation. With all of their success, they still have humility, and they work toward a bigger cause. They use their power as a positive influence. They aren't power hungry, but instead have gotten somewhere that allows them to move bigger things forward.
MU: Confidence. That is all it takes to be beautiful - be confident in who you are, what you are doing, and what you stand for.
Vikki Wiercinski is a multi-faceted artist. Trained in graphic design, she graduated at the top of her class from art school in 2006. Realizing early that she was mildly anti-establishment, Vikki boldly turned down a job offer from a major design firm and chose to work for a non-profit organization instead. She spent most of her 20s travelling, which is an activity that continues to inspire the design firm she runs and creative work she does today. Look for Mezzaluna Studio wares in stores across Canada, take a stroll by her public art at Lewis Farms Fire Hall, or pop by the next Royal Bison to see her hard work come to life!