ARTIST FEATURE: Jaqueline Vanek, photographer and visual artist

Artist Feature and Interview of Jaqueline Vanek


In each issue, we feature an artist and we want to begin featuring more artists work on our blog. Up first, here's a biography, examples, and an interview with artist Jaqueline Vanek, whose work is ghastly, intriguing, and gorgeous! Enjoy her feature from Volume III Issue Three.


My name is Jaqueline Vanek, I was born on August 27, 1984 in Villach, Austria, and I currently reside in Madrid, Spain. I am a Photographer, Visual Artist and Senior Visual UI / UX Designer. My photographic work is mainly focused on fine art with a conceptual self-portrait thematic, photomontage, fetish and landscape photography.

I participated in several international exhibitions, including a participation at the Biennale Fotonoviembre and an exhibition at the Long Night of Museums in Austria "ORF Lange Nacht der Museen". I also participated in international charitable projects such as "Made for Japan" in 2011 where all the profits were donated to the Japanese Red Cross for helping the victims of the earthquake/tsunami; and at the beginning of 2021, I created a non-profit solidarity project/campaign to raise money and allocate it in an integrated way to a Greenpeace project related to saving the arctic, my project goes under the name "Art For Arctic" and is based on the auction art for a solidarity purpose.

Worth to mention is that I have been awarded an Honorable Mention in the IPA awards, "Annual International Photography Awards" in the category of "Professional Photographer, Portrait and Self-Portrait" and I also had a sponsorship by Datacolor (The World Leader in Color Innovation).

Can you tell me a little about your work and your creative process?

In my creative work process related to photomontages, the most important thing without a doubt is the compilation of the best possible images for the formation of a versatile library that later allows me to build and create good compositions. For this, I make use of my own images but also purchased images. We all have our limitations to take certain types of stock photographs, we cannot have everything at hand and therefore it is inevitable to sometimes purchase photographs. I tend to avoid free stock pages as they have pictures that are heavily used by a lot of people and only use them for little background stuff. Usually, I start by creating very rough and straightforward moodboards and collages. Once a closed idea has been worked out, I build everything taking care of the details and trying to integrate everything as well as possible so that it gives the feeling of a "real scene". The initial process of idea creation and composition, of course, is the most difficult and the construction of everything usually takes me several whole days.

On the other side, when I prepare to take a self-portrait, I first prepare the photographic background, position the spotlights and place the tripod with the camera. I get a shower, I put on makeup, I get dressed. Once I and the background are ready, I connect my camera to my computer. I have my computer placed in such a way that I can see the screen in front of the pose. I leave everything set for my camera to shoot about 20-30 photographs with 15 seconds in between. Between shot and shot the shot is shown on my screen and I am correcting the pose, the framing, the light. This suggests infinite patience. In the end I end up making about 100 photographs, just to select one or two of them all. After the photo session, it is time to look at all the shots and select, this is usually the least fun part of all. For each selected image, I usually dedicate about 3-4 hours of photo retouching (depending on the image)… touch up fluff, dust motes, in short, a job to the millimeter.

What are some of your main inspirations as a dark artist?

Honestly, I don’t have artists or photographers who inspire me today for what my current personal work is. I like to visit at least 2 or 3 exhibitions a week, discover artists in general and see new works of all possible styles. Of course I have had artists in the past that have motivated me to create in general. When I started studying photography in 2005, my favorite artists were Joel Peter Witkin, Jan Saudek, Shana and Robert ParkeHarrison, Hans Bellmer… I’ve always been attracted to the unusual, the “not too accepted” by general society, for the dark and the surreal.

How do you hope that your work affects people, or what do you hope that they get out of your work?

I hope that when people look at my pictures they get out a story, a feeling. Sometimes I also hope to make people think and reflect on issues that society avoids talking about, issues that are uncomfortable or on which they look the other way. Many artists have always been using art to express themselves, me too. It’s a medium to let go of the emotions a person has within themselves. Art gives us a sense of freedom and there are hundreds of amazing things that art can do. We may not notice it’s value to our lives but everything around us is art. It usually comes out of us naturally and in any form. Sometimes art is full of emotions and feelings that it affects us in a way that we don’t understand.

Often I don’t usually find the right words to express myself and even feel anxious that society will misunderstand me. But through my pictures, I don’t have the need to say a single word to tell another person what I feel or what I think. You have to let all the emotion out in whatever medium of art you’re comfortable with. Expressing yourself through art can give you a light feeling of relief. Creating artwork can help you cope with different emotions that may limit your productivity. Studies have shown that art therapy has an effect on people who are suffering from depression or stress. We may throw in questions like what do arts have and why can it heal us? Then ask that question to yourself. What does art have? Why does it affect you that much? You may say that you don’t like anything that is artsy and that it doesn’t heal you. But have you ever gone on a vacation where nature mesmerizes you? Have you ever jumped into the open sea and then suddenly you feel so alive? Have you ever found comfort with music or with a piece of literature? Everything around us is art, we just have to open our eyes.

Who are some of your favorite dark artists?

I am currently participating in a group exhibition at the Aeon Gallery in Illinois (USA). It is an exhibition with artists who all have a dark streak and among them I have discovered artists of great interest. Personally, I do not have favorite dark artists but many who inspire, such as my exhibition partner Matt Lombard. I invite you to take a look at the list of artists participating in the “Exodus Exhibition” and who make me proud to be part of it.

What's your favorite scary movie?

I like classics like "The Shining" (1980), "Halloween" (1978), "A Nightmare on Elm Street" (1984) or "The Birds" (1963). As I am a big fan of birds, I even have the screaming face of the protagonist of "The Birds" with a crow coming out of her mouth tattooed on my arm. I am also a big H.R. Giger fan, Alien (1979) has always been on my top list. But I also like more recent movies like “The Witch" (2015).

Thank you for reading, stay tuned for more artist features and blog posts to come!