The mural is her first piece in the UK and is based on the Joker from her Queen’s Court series. Look closely and you might even spot a couple of nods to Brighton hidden within the artwork.
In today’s blog, we’re chatting to Volo to learn more about the mural and the intentions behind it and to see how she’s enjoying her first trip to East Sussex.
Volo’s oeuvre is defined by powerful female characters, many of whom are inspired by folklore tales, or the empowered women that Volo likes to surround herself with. Speaking of the women who inspire her work, Volo reveals:
“I always want to give all of my characters a story and a personality, but specifically when I started working on female characters I looked to the women around me for inspiration. I love to surround myself with empowered women; my friends, my mother and grandmother, all of these women are a huge inspiration for me.”
In the new mural, Volo’s subject lounges back, entirely confident in their own skin, peering assertively at passers-by over the top of her sunglasses. The piece exudes a quiet confidence, which Volo explains in something she intends for every artwork that she creates:
“There’s something about the look that they give or the way that they take up space so naturally. I never want these women to feel small on the wall or confined in the spaces. I want them to fill the space and look comfortable doing so. I want them to be liberated and I think because I have that intention, people walk away with that empowered feeling. I try to make sure that same sort of feeling is also in my prints or canvas works. There’s a sort of attitude, a sense of powerful femininity that both men and women can relate to.”
Taking Up Space
Working in the predominantly male world of street art, this notion of confidently taking up space permeates Volo’s entire career. She reveals that things really started to click into place for her when she settled into being herself and creating art that reflected who she is:
“It was a big turning point for me. When you create work in a space where there’s lots of graffiti artists, you can feel a bit intimidated or that it’s not your space to be in because my style is very specific to me, but I made a conscious decision to stay myself. I realised that I didn’t have to look or act a certain way or be too cool for school. That realisation was beautiful because I could stay myself but also because it opened me up to a lot of great friendships with women. The more open I was to the realities of the street art world, the more genuine connections I made with people. This authenticity has really opened up lots of beautiful connections.”
For anyone dreaming of making it in the street art world, we asked what advice Volo has for artists trying to break out:
“Stick to your guns and be yourself because that’s what people connect with. Art is transparent, it should be a reflection of you. Be yourself and create art your way. Being genuine is so much easier for your soul.”
Fortunately, Volo was treated to some sunshine when she was in town, and as we watched her work, Brighton folk repeatedly stopped to ask her about the mural. As it is her first trip to our city, we couldn’t resist asking her about her first impressions:
“I do a lot of street art around the world and Brighton people are some of the friendliest I’ve encountered. Everyone you meet is usually kind but in Brighton they are actually interested in the art. No one is shying away from expressing their opinion or having a conversation about the art itself and what they feel about the piece. It’s been so refreshing. Brighton – what a place! I can’t wait to come back.”
Volo’s murals are found all around the world, from Montreal to Mexico, so we were curious as to how she chose what character to depict in the piece, and why she felt like it was the perfect choice for Brighton:
“Everything I know about Brighton is style, sass and power. I think this piece defines that. I knew that Brighton was a creative place. So many iconic artworks have been created here so I knew that it was okay to take a little bit of a risk and create something fashionable, edgy, sassy and I think this piece is a little edgier than most of my work. Brighton couldn’t be a better place to try that. Everybody is accepting it so well and after chatting about it with both men and women I feel like everyone is walking away with a little more sass in their step, which is exactly the reaction I was hoping for!”
You can see Volo’s mural on the corner of Trafalgar Street and Over Street, on the wall outside Blend and Brew Brighton.