'My art makes me feel alive'

Vanessa Ramzieh is a body painter from Boston (MA). With over 35 thousand followers on Instagram alone, she is a big inspiration for others. Art has inspired her as well and has been something that helps her when her mental health is at a low.

Vanessa started making art young. She would doodle and draw constantly as a kid and then went on to study Theatre. Vanessa: “It took me until college to really adapt my love and take it to the next level. I took a stage make-up course my sophomore year of college and slowly taught myself how to body paint shortly after that. Once I taught myself basic steps, the rest was history.”

“Art is the best form of medication”

The reason Vanessa started to create, was because of her struggles. “Whenever I am going through a rough patch in my life of any kind, I find myself picking up a paint brush and channeling my anger, sadness, etc into my art form. I believe some of my best art, has come from deep pain and emotions,” Vanessa says. “Art is the best form of medication.”

Positive and negative comments

Vanessa started posting her art online and gained a following, which has been both a positive and a negative experience for her. “I got hate and negative comments, but I also got likes and positive comments. I found people who inspire me and people I inspire. I wouldn’t change the way I learned my craft and the steps I took. I believe art is about taking things at your own pace, learning lessons, and loving your craft in the end.”

For others that post their art online and get negative comments, Vanessa has some advice: “Never give up. As cliche as it sounds, it’s true. The moment you take someone's negative comment and stop, they won. Instead take that negative comment and come on top by showing them, hey I’m going to continue to make art because I believe in myself.”

Sharing inspiration

Inspiring people is important to Vanessa. She says: “My major goal, whenever I create and I post it online, for others to see, is to inspire others. I know as a creative person, I am inspired by artists, who constantly inspire me and strive me to want to constantly create. I want to be that outlet for other people. I want people to look up to me and be inspired by my work, to then achieve their artistic goals.”

“It is to never give up on your craft because you never know who will see it”

Vanessa gets her inspiration from artists such as Twenty One Pilots and Jon Bellion. She has tattoos of Jon Bellion’s handwriting on both her arms, that say ‘create’ and ‘inspire’. Vanessa: “He personally taught me those two things. Jon and I are the same age and we met in person when I was 25. He took the time to sit me down and explain to me how important it is to never give up on your craft because you never know who will see it, where you will end up and how alive you will feel. He was right, I never gave up and I lived by his two simple words for those few years, and still do today, and my art still makes me feel alive.”

Vanessa will be face painting at Secret Midnight Press’ annual music and poetry festival Atlas Black. The festival centers around offering a safe space for everyone, bringing attention to mental health and wellbeing. This interview is part of a series of interviews with artists about mental health in light of the upcoming festival. For more information about Atlas Black, go to: https://www.secretmidnightpress.com/atlasblack

Lieke Ruesink