by Aglaja Stehnejová·
Viktorie Štěpánová (*1999, Brno) is a young artist of Czech origin, based half in Prague and half in Brno. Viktorie studies animation at FAMU and has experience in commercial collaboration with various artists and institutions, such as Kvítek or Delicomat. Her illustrations and animations question the traditional aesthetic values and capture the artist's delicate view of the world and events in it.
Discover Viktorie Štěpánová here: http://viktorie.atelier-stepan.cz/
Follow Viktorie here: https://www.instagram.com/iamviktorie/
You’re very active on social networks, is it a part of your work?
I started using Instagram to promote my work since about last year, once I realized that nowadays, it’s almost necessary to do these things as an artist. I don't want to show my life, but rather how I see life and the world around me. To show others something they may not have seen before, or just to show them my work. In fact, it was only after this realization that I understood that it’s a shame not to use Instagram as an artist. It’s a good way to show your things to others in a pleasantly digestible way.
Would you consider social networks as a medium?
Yes, for sure.
What do you think about the "shitposting" trend?
In general, I understand things like memes and shitposting as the answer of us young people to the plethora of things all around us. We have the opportunity to know everything, right now, whenever we want. And because of that, we are often depressed, in strange moods, feelings of despair etc. and need to react with a kind of negation. I view cynicism and absurdity as an almost necessary reaction to the current events around us and the amount of information everywhere.
For example, when I read the news for a long time, I must calm myself down with an absolutely absurd movie or just look stupidly at some pictures, in order not to go crazy.
The field of your activity is broad; you’ve worked with various media. How has your practice evolved over time?
At the moment, I'd say I'm not going much anywhere. I rather have a constant need to create something, to project myself in this way, to communicate with the world in this way, and I don't care what form, technique or medium it will be in. That all depends on the topic I want to express, my life stage, or just on the specific moment.
I think as a child I definitely had a grander vision of what I aimed for. I knew I wanted to be a fashion designer who would design, sew, and sell her own clothes, plus I still wanted to draw. And I planned to do one of these activities on each day of the week. But I'm definitely very lucky to be able to do all these things I’m doing at all, I'm very grateful for that.
You’re the author of the promising animated film "Vevnitř". Could you introduce it in a few words?
Vevnitř was created as a second-year exercise at FAMU with the criteria: anidoc + home. I wondered what home meant to everyone and how difficult it was for me at one time to find a home in myself, in my head, in my body. So, I decided to make a film about anorexia, or rather a film through the eyes of anorexia. I wanted to show in what distorted way a person with anorexia sees the world, because it’s not the person who’s looking, but the disease.
It seemed important to me to show this point of view, because as I was struggling with this disease, I often felt misunderstood. The film is therefore a completely subjective view of the world and is also in black and white, because the world doesn’t have colour at these times. As a technique, I chose a mix of manual rotoscopy, painting and for sequences in the subject's head, a quick assembly of photos and videos from my phone.
Let me quote you. On your website, you write: "My frequent topic has been the connection between ‘beauty’ and ‘disgust’ for a long time, but I look for inspiration all around me". What is the difference between "beauty" and "disgust"? Is there any?
I like to see aesthetics in unaesthetics, but I usually try to re-capture it somehow aesthetically, at least in my own eyes. In my opinion, this is all a matter of taste and, above all, a kind of cultural and interpersonal agreement. But I would also say that you can find beauty in everything, even in those commonly disgusting things like mold, uneaten food, stretch marks.... It's just a matter of how you look at it. When I tell myself that I'm really going to look at a certain thing, it suddenly starts to feel beautiful in its own way.
I actually don’t like the word “beauty” very much. I find it a little pejorative, as if it were announcing a kind of an ideal – but of what? The ideal of some established agreement / group of people / culture / time... I find it kind of useless and insignificant, I would rather use a different word.
Could you tell us more about your extensive experience in the field of commission work? How is “disgust” reflected there?
This is perhaps another peculiarity. As a disclaimer, I would say that I enjoy and like commercial work and commissions very much. I’m also attracted to advertisements in a very strangely specific way. I actually view commercial work as a yet untapped branch of art. It’s a way to distribute art to the general public, "push" it a bit more and educate people.
How is disgust reflected in my work? That’s perhaps a paradox, as I’d say it’s not really present in my commercial work as it’s much more refined and polished. When I’m doing commissions, it’s important for me to talk about everything with my customers. I was often lucky that they chose me for exactly what I was doing, so I didn't have to limit myself much, I was just a bit scared. I'm not as much anymore.
How do you price your work?
I'm still not sure about pricing and I'm a bit shy, but I usually add up the hours of work, coming up with the idea, cost of materials and sometimes the money for the trip. But the worst thing about pricing is that when you don't trust yourself and underestimate your work, you undermine not only yourself but everyone in your circle (mainly other artists). People then think that paintings, logos and illustrations don’t cost anything because it’s "your hobby and not work" or something like that. So pricing still stresses me out a little bit.
How do you define success as an artist?
In general, I would define success as simply feeling good. I feel successful even if I manage to make a good coffee and it makes someone happy, or when I really decide to treat my body with yoga after a whole day of drawing or go have lunch with my grandmother. I would define success as an artist as: to be seen elsewhere than just within my bubble, to get into other bubbles and maybe to even enrich them somehow.
Photo: Iryna Drahun