We spoke to Josie Bunce, about her feminist platform turned fashion line, Vagina Cult, her story as the founder, and the exciting things to come VC.
Josie Bunce AKA Vagina_Cult
December 16th, 1993
Where are you originally from?
Small town of Sun Valley, Idaho
Where do you currently live?
Preferred art medium
Oil paint (But I am loving digital drawing at the time!)
Hobby or interest aside from art?
Social Activism, snowboarding, kickboxing, pole dancing and playing the mandolin
Using my favorite teakwood and tobacco soy candle as perfume… hahaha
Who are some of your favorite artists?
Egon Schiele, Lucien Freud, John Altoon, Mary Reid Kelley! (I put them in order of discovery for me!)
Under the Skin, and Ratatouille
The Mastery of Love
I am going to list off a couple bands for you! James Blake, Future Islands, First Aid Kit and Fleetwood Mac!
What is something you deeply love about yourself?
That I am empowering people to be the best they can be by showing them they are a work of art… literally.
“I want people of any gender, genders, sex and sexes to embrace their bodies and minds as a work of art.”
How has Instagram worked for you as an artist?
It has served as my main platform for showcasing my artwork. I has also been a place to communicate and get feedback from fans and non-supporters. I have been trying to take in what the non-supporters have to say, unless it is something like them telling me “I am disgusting and I can’t believe you would do this”, then I just block them because they are missing the point of this entire biz.
Briefly describe the circumstances under which you grew up
I grew up in quite the large family. My parents got divorced when I was 3 and it has continued to be emotionally difficult and taxing on all of us kiddos. However, the relationship between my siblings and I is truly unbelievable. We will fight for each other and support each other over anything in the world. I would say we are the definition of having each other's backs. There is nothing but love and support between us and that is what helps us be sure of ourselves. I would have never been able to start this business if it weren’t for their support, constructive criticism, and beautiful minds!
How do you think these circumstances influenced your art?
I think that growing up with so many females all going through puberty at different times and all being at different stages was very interesting for me! I remember being so embarrassed that my sister noticed i started getting the tiny puffy nipples and she screamed “Josie you are getting boobs!” I was always very self conscious of my tiny boobies, then as time went on I realized they are just part of adulthood and they are beautiful!
What would you say are your artwork’s main themes?
Feminism, abstraction, activism, body positivity, GRLPWR, Freedom of Expression.
How would you describe your style? Modern Spicy Vintage Retro Funky Freak. (P.S. thank you for the Q because I am going to coin that term to describe me now hahaha!)
“Modern Spicy Vintage Retro Funky Freak.”
What are you communicating with your art?
“Girl Power between the sexes, MMM” Honestly, that quote from Spice world has played over and over in my head since I started this whole thing a little over 2 years ago! I think what I am communicating is very similar to just that! More than that, I want people of any gender, genders, sex and sexes to embrace their bodies and minds as a work of art.
(Certain) Artists tend to have a stereotype attached to them of being dramatic with addictive personalities. What do you feel about this assumption?
I don’t want to agree with this stereotype, but I also don’t want to disagree with it. I think in order to be an expert on what you are creating you have to turn your creative mind to be addicted to generating those ideas. I wish there were better words or a more positive way to represent this stereotype better!
Artists paths are normally non-linear. Can you recall for us what your path has been like?
My path has been all over the place! When I first went into art school I wanted to be a hyper realism painter, then I wanted to be a sculptor because I loved the 3d aspect of paint coming off the canvas. I think at one point I wanted to be an abstract painter as well, and Now here I am! Still oil painting (which seems to have a hyper realistic feel to it) doing portraiture, but with an abstract or simplified visual of the form.
What kind of patterns, routines or rituals do you have to keep the creative juices flowing? Bottle of cab sav a blank canvas and some gloves to start using my fingers to finger paint. If I start out playful and fingerpainting (Most of my paintings are this way) then I progressively get more serious. Facing an all white huge canvas can be very intimidating, and when I go back to being young and just think about the feeling of the paint on my hands and the exciting idea of messing up something so pristine at first makes it easier for me to make it beautiful again!
“Watercolor has an essence of hydration — I like the idea of using water to paint a female body”
Do you think your ethnicity, gender, and/or personal preferences drove you towards becoming an artist? YES! I think being a female and Understanding the puberty struggle of a female is huge in what I do! I consider myself very gender fluid, so I think being able to feel masculine one day and feminine the next has opened my mind up to all the possibilities of humans to paint! I am constantly looking for the one self conscious person and show them the work of art that they are.
What is your opinion of the art world as it is right now? is there anything you'd like to change? I think what Vagina Cult is doing is changing the art world in a way. It has become a lifestyle, political palace of acceptance, fine arts, and fashion design! For most of my art school time I struggled because I loved the idea of being a secluded painter, but I just loved human interaction and hearing stories. I discovered that I wanted a more interactive art practice, so Vagina Cult was born! I started doing all the things I loved in the art world and didn’t commit myself to just one thing, and I think this has been amazing and all I could ask for in a biz and I hope to see it grow more and more!
What draws you towards your particular art medium? I think what draws me towards the smaller watercolors is the simplicity of it. Watercolor has an essence of hydration which i like the idea of using water to paint a female body. I also think that the way watercolor looks is light and it bleeds from one color to the next and you can have very little control over it and I love to think about how that mimics what is done through Vagina Cult.
“Being able to feel masculine one day and feminine the next has opened my mind up to all the possibilities of humans to paint”
How have you developed your own unique style? I remember when I had a huge breakthrough on my style. It was a really late night in the studio and I had a huge art project due the next day and I had wasted an hour staring at this huge white canvas. I was so angry and at a loss of what to paint under the time crunch that I had. I decided to fuck it and use my hands and go back to my youth. I smeared paint all over it and then went in with a brush and made little creatures or shapes out of the streaky unfinished looking areas of my finger painting, and from that a beautiful process was born. And this is what is the base of my huge figure oil paintings that I paint!
Any upcoming shows/ plans? I am currently partnering with planned parenthood with a bunch of the shirts I have created, and I am partnering with a Breast cancer research fundraiser which means a lot of new and powerful paintings will be coming out soon! Really excited!
“I wanted a more interactive art practice, so Vagina Cult was born”