Vikki Vassar, a Winston-Salem based artisan, created an online store where she sells Camel City-centric art she originally made for the Ardmore Art Walk on May 8. Vassar’s items include T-shirts, prints, paintings, and stickers inspired by Winston-Salem’s pop culture. Vassar also creates original art and custom portraits. She’s a regular contributor to the Winston-Salem Memes Facebook group where she mines ideas. Shop Vassar’s creations at thatblondegirlvikki.bigcartel.com and houseofrodan.com. (photo by Jerry Cooper)

How did you get started making art?

It’s pretty much been a lifelong thing for me. I went to a high school that went to a fantastic arts program up in Michigan and it’s been ongoing ever since. I work in pretty much any medium someone wants to try to hand me. With the pandemic, I had more time to do art. I’ve been doing local shows since 2015, but it was so sporadic. I didn’t have time to sit and develop a base of work. The pandemic just gave me an opportunity and I took it.

What are your favorite things about Winston-Salem?

I love Winston-Salem because it reminded me of Ann Arbor, Mich. a little bit. The artistic side of it, at least. I went to Tecumseh High School that had a great arts-based program headed up by a teacher named Ron Frenzen, and I would go to Ann Arbor to look at more art because they have an annual art festival. I always admired how much emphasis they put on art and creativity. I feel like anybody can be an artist, it’s just finding the right medium to work in. Everybody has a creative side. I took all that information Mr. Frenzen taught me and came down here, and I needed a creative outlet. Winston reminded me of Ann Arbor so much I immediately got comfortable.

Winston is so accepting of people who just want to be weird and want to be themselves. It seems like almost anything goes here in town. That kind of fits my life philosophy: As long as you’re not being a giant a-hole, do you.

Speaking of art, why did you decide to bring back Bartsy? Because I know that shook up Winston for a bit.

(Laughs) Because everybody lost their minds over it! Even Brian did. He wrote a whole article with James about it. And I was like, you know, we didn’t hate Bartsy. We were all about Bartsy. It was pretty freaking cool. And so I made these stickers and T-shirts that say, ‘We remember Bartsy’ and you know, these types of shared experiences and reminders of shared experiences really bring any community together. The center of the Winston-Salem Memes group on Facebook is having a laugh together as a community. Some days you’re up. Some days you get to make the joke about somebody else and some days you’re just the butt of the joke. It’s important to laugh, to me. Like, really important. After all the things we’ve been through as a community in the last couple years we need a little chuckle.

Did you start the stickers recently or were they something you’ve always done?

No, I literally just did all this for the Ardmore Art Walk. I had nothing. I didn’t have stickers. I didn’t have prints. I had some T-shirts through House of Rodan from the beginning of the pandemic. I was doing art for some local businesses just offering my services for free because it seemed like T-shirts were a way to patch people over until the PPP loan situation got clarified, so I did T-shirts for Silver Moon and Major Tomms and the Crooked Tail Cat Café. I did this to try to help these businesses stay afloat for the first few really shaky weeks where we didn’t know what was going on.

Now that you’re selling work, what are your future plans when it comes to art?

Keep creating when I feel inspired, and encourage others to create. Provide experience where I can and resources when I can for others. I honestly just kinda float around and do whatever I like. It’s a fantastic life.

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