Brooklyn- based artist Virginia Elwood’s style originates in American traditional, but a further foray into her portfolio leads to an entire spectrum of vintage influence, juxtaposed with contemporary subject matter. Working in color and black and grey, she translates her creative vision to other surfaces, even extending it three- dimensionally. Marked by bold line work and clarity, Virginia’s artwork perpetuates classic technique while incorporating completely custom content, resulting in a fully- developed tattoo and an even more nuanced symbolism.
Past the roses and the butterflies, which are alluring in their own right, Virginia interprets themes of femininity, wanderlust and attachment, taking her work to another level of allegory. One of her larger pieces, featuring an eagle perched on an angled brain, uses lines to create a slanting geometric pattern that criss-crosses the entire piece. The eagle is Americana to the blood, regal and stern, but the rest of the image is sharp, a twenty- first century introspection on human nature. Virginia’s scenes are adding to the bridge that connects artistic expression with psychological state of mind, offering an ambiguity that we search for in the modern age; food for thought and hidden meaning. Some of them- the portraiture and ornamentals- are innately self- explanatory, but the majority combine aesthetics and narrative strain. To add to the modern undertones within Virginia’s style, there’s a prominent geometric element, too- simple angle and shape patterns add edge and a polish.
Virginia has cited folk art as a major influence, and the genre’s spirit reverberates throughout her body of work. Her understanding of the American identity is just as much an understanding of what drives a society to create art as it is an analysis of the people and environment it stems from. Virginia’s inspiration comes not only from the various visual techniques of folk art, but the voices it preserves. America is a hard thing to define, and I think Virginia approaches her tattoos an inherent notion of being an American artist, a role that requires a steadfast individualism as well as profound curiosity for what came before and how it contributed to the creative vision of the country. The promised land is a murky reality, yet boasts flashes of improbable victory, and it’s these moments of pure American color that Virginia captures in her traditional-style work.
Now working out of Saved Tattoo, Virginia has been tattooing for well over a decade, with enough experience to honor the classics yet adapt them to keep up with the years. Her work in other mediums is equally expressive, molding influence and personal taste into a collection.