Lucas Vidana Artist Interview

“There are a lot of things you can capture in painting a woman that you can’t necessarily capture when you’re painting a man.” — Lucas Vidana

Meet Lucas Vidana, a self-taught Seattle-based artist who captures pop-culture themes and images of human beings frozen in time. Although Vidana’s paintings may seem straight-forward and simple initially, it is the little things — like his screenprinted or collaged backgrounds — which add the extra elements to his pieces. Because much of Vidana’s art incorporates “found” items, from old boxes of receipts to music books from garage sales, Vidana is a perfect fit for this issue’s Recycling theme. His work is an example that recycling people’s “junk” can result in timeless art.

Did you always know you wanted to be an artist?
Yeah. When I was young, I wanted to be an astronaut, and I always thought that maybe I could be the first person to paint a picture in space, but I realized that being an astronaut’s a lot harder than it looks. Then I thought I could just be a painter. I wonder what it would [be like to paint in space]. I don’t think I’ll ever get that chance. Hopefully, one day.

What mediums do you use?
All my paintings are acrylic on canvas. My backgrounds are screen-printed. I also use a lot of vintage materials that I find. Maps… vintage songbooks… I found a box of receipts from the ’60s that I used, cause I liked how they were all faded and stained and cracked. I found that in the basement of an abandoned building, along with a mannequin leg.

For one particular piece — with the map of Japan, it’s just an old map that I found at a garage sale. For a while I did use some maps of Japan, because I wanted to symbolize a sort of clash of pop culture, where American pop culture is a lot different from Japanese pop culture. I think it mostly roots from American pop culture. That was pretty much what I was trying to say in that.

I’ve read you learned a lot from your family members. Did they put you in the right direction?
I come from kind of a history of artists, you know? My grandfather was a painter, and he never displayed his art, though he did still life [works] of flowers. He’d do some scenes of Cuba, where he’s from. My great-grandfather, who’s from Spain, was a pretty well-known photographer who traveled the world and took pictures for postcards. Then he could hand-color them with a watercolor over the top. You can still find his postcards in random stores.

I noticed that most of your work is paintings of women. Why is this?
I mainly paint women because they’re just a beautiful form. There are a lot of things you can capture in painting a woman that you can’t necessarily capture when you’re painting a man. I do paint men every now and then, depending on how I’m feeling. A lot of times, I’ll paint women with men — not so much men alone. I like what I can get out of painting a woman –- from the eyelashes to the lips, the hair…

Can you tell me about the murals you’ve done for Washington State?
I have two murals in Tacoma, Washington. They’re glass murals. For one of them, I basically etched and hand-painted glass tiles to do a cityscape of Tacoma. That one is in downtown Tacoma. The second one is a large glass piece. I did the same thing where I painted on tile. [I don’t do a lot of glass etching]. I applied for a grant, and it specified for a glass art piece. I figured I could somehow turn it into a painting.

What was the first art piece you actually got recognition for?
A mural I painted in Tacoma when I was younger. It was actually done in an abandoned lot that was in the stadium district of Tacoma. People would tag and do little names and stuff on this wall which was really visible by the street. It always baffled me that people would always tag little names and letters, you know? Why don’t they do a real art piece instead of just putting letters everywhere? I bought about $100 worth of spray paint and I did a painting along the whole wall, and it was over 100 feet long and over 10 feet tall. It took me like three nights to do. The city ended up accepting it as public art for a few years. I just did it and they liked it, and they left it alone. When people would just tag and do little words like street names and what not, they would just cover it up.

Is all of your work self-taught?
I’ve never been to college or been schooled. I’ve been painting since I was a little kid, but I would say it was not until I was about 14 or 15 that I started painting everyday. I’m just self-taught. I feel like it’s the best way for me to work, because I’m not given everything that I want to ever have. I feel that when you go to school, they put a lot of tools through your hands that you’ll never be able to afford or use after school. You may not even have the motivation to produce with those tools. Everything I’ve done has started from the ground up.


Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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Written by Vee Hua 華婷婷
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