Burke Residency 33: Vikki Wiercinski

Written by Emma Olson


Posted on May 06 2024

EMMA: Please introduce yourself and tell us a little about Mezzaluna Studio.

VIKKI: I'm Vikki Wiercinski, and I'm graphic designer, artist and illustrator from Canada. Mezzaluna Studio was started as a creative project and an outlet for my own ideas for textiles and paper - you know, the things I didn't get to do at my design day job! As a new designer fresh out of school, I was really interested in surface design and craft but didn't get to study either in school so I started experimenting on the evenings and weekends.  I started selling my work at my local art+design craft fair and had a great response, and I kept going with it over the years. I have been making things for most of my life, it's what feels most natural to me. It's coming up to nine years working on projects for Mezzaluna Studio, and almost twenty as a designer, how did that happen!?

Mezzaluna Studio

E: Your site says that you "ran away" from your cubicle job in 2015 to launch Mezzaluna. We celebrate trading cubicle jobs for art and craft dedication, but I imagine that was a tough transition! How did you decide to make the leap?

V: The design field is on a huge spectrum and I definitely didn't start out where I've wound up! I actually started my career in newspapers and media. I was a DIY, Le Tigre-listening zine-making punk in the mid-2000s, fresh out of design school and I worked my way up to art director my city's alt weekly. It was a neat job at a scrappy place, I got to design magazine covers and listen to great music in the production office - everyone who worked there was also in a band or doing something really interesting. Over time, I found that my natural interest in pattern, shape and illustration came up just as the media landscape was fundamentally shifting around 2010. The alt weekly job didn't pay a lot, so I was always freelancing on the side, plus starting to make my own product and selling it on this new website that had just started called Etsy. Thanks to all this precarity, it was a bit easier to imagine just taking a leap into following my own path with Mezzaluna Studio. Around that same time I also started coordinating my local art+design fair, which I wound up doing for over ten years. It gave me an opportunity to connect with my maker interests, as well as build my local design community more and more. Over time I realized that I could design my own product line while also making the space to focus more on my other design and art interests too. 

Artist Vikki Wiercinski at work in studio

E: You work with a few different mediums and objects, from risograph printing to printed textiles to wall hooks for the home. Do you have a favorite medium? Are there others you want to play with that you haven't explored yet?

V: At the moment I am fully immersed in the world of risograph printing - I took the leap and invested in a risograph printer for my studio so I can print my own line of greeting cards and also art prints. It's a natural extension of my graphic design interests and there are so many amazing creatives producing work on these machines. It's a great world to be a part of, the possibilities are endless. I am also a secret ceramicist - I was on an art residency at the Banff Centre several years ago and discovered ceramics there. It's mostly a hobby, but in 2023 I showed those ceramics at a small gallery my friend has in Japan! On that same trip I visited a DIY risograph print shop (be still my heart) and made some prints there, which convinced me I had to get a risograph of my own. In terms of new things: I would love to try glassblowing - the colours and the shapes that are possible really excite me. One day it'll happen!

Ceramics by Vikki Wiercinski

E: Where do you draw inspiration for your distinctive designs? Have you experienced moments of surprising inspiration?

V: This is an answer as old as time but it's undeniable: nature is the best inspiration there is. I live near the Rocky Mountains and I love heading out to the mountains - the colours you find just by looking closely are sublime. I'm also big on a long distance walk, it's the best way to think. And jazz, it lends itself to abstract shapes like nothing else I love the We Jazz label especially. And travel: who doesn't come back from travelling inspired? Ideas come to me often at the most mundane moments. I can tell you that inspiration is rarely found scrolling on my phone/on the internet, you have to unplug!

Art prints by Mezzaluna Studio

E: I'd love to hear more about your creative process! Do you begin new projects - whether they're personal or for Mezzaluna Studio or a commissioned work - with a final design in mind, or do you discover the design along the way?

V: I am really process-based. The ideas come as I work on something and make many versions to get to the final result, to get to the thing that feels right. I start with a stash of abstract shapes that I have saved on my computer, or drawn in my sketchbooks, and I rearrange them, reshape them, cut them in half, collage them, and over time it works out to a completed piece. Good work takes time and it's very intuitive for me. 

Tea Towel by Mezzaluna Studio

E: The scale of your work ranges from greeting cards and coasters to full murals and cast concrete on the side of buildings. Do you have a preference for large or smaller scale projects? Do you have a dream project you'd love to do one day?

V: I would love to collaborate with a manufacturer to make some vibrant designs for fabric yardage or wallpaper applications. I'd also love to design some book covers in the Mezzaluna style - pattern and typography should be linked, just give me a reason to do it!

And yes, I feel very lucky to have gotten a few public art commissions, one for a pattern cast into the side of a building. I truly love all the projects, big and small. The bigger projects tend to have a more lasting effect which makes them so worth it. Smaller projects are a lot of fun too, they give so much variety in studio life. There is just so much to do, it's exciting every day.

Art Print by Mezzaluna Studio

E: Please tell us more about your three resident cats :)

V: That would be Kimchi, Arrow, and Ziggy. They are all rescues, and I have to tell you, I'm having a hard time not getting a fourth cat, I am proudly a crazy cat lady. It's funny, Arrow and Ziggy are both tuxedo cats that look almost exactly alike and they don't really get along. I guess you don't always love your mirror self!



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