The enigmatic artist known as Hidden Velvet seemed to appear on my radar overnight, and yet, whilst gazing at the somber elegance of her surreal collages, I feel that I have been carrying velvety fragments of her assemblages with me, tucked into the shadowy corners of my heart, for all of my life.

A floating cloud softly obscures the face of a cloaked woman whose dark mantle gives away to grey vapors. A soft, pale hand loosely grasps a rose while a both a butterfly perches on a fingertip and a snake slithers in the spaces between. Delicate vines of ivy mark the pages of a book that has opened to an illustration of an ominous figure emerging from its darkened interior. It is easy to become lost in these bittersweet contrasts of lightness and glooms, blooming, fluttering life and the stillness of death, and furtive dread juxtaposed against a serene sense of tranquility.

It is also easy, at least for me, to fall in love with an artist’s work and want to know everything about them. Everything! Sometimes though, I wonder– does a lack of mystery lessen the enjoyment for others who consider themselves equally passionate about these uncanny artists and the intimate worlds they create?  Keeping this in mind, I will share just a few select secrets about the Belgian artist known as Hidden Velvet.

A wistful dreamer and enthusiastic devotee of antique photographs, Hidden Velvet fell in love with the medium of collage through Instagram. The thought of transforming an image and giving it new life, a new story, was appealing–and, as it turned out, came quite effortlessly to her when she initially tried her hand at it. It was easy at first, she shared, but of course the more techniques and processes she learns, the more challenging and complicated it becomes! Hidden Velvet doesn’t mind the time involved though; she allows her mind to wander and roam as she works through each piece, and it’s always then, she confesses, when the magic happens.

“My ideas may come right before I sleep, when I’m between consciousness and unconsciousness…but that state might happen during the day too. Or sometimes it begins with a precise idea…”

But more often than not, she seeks to use her feelings and instincts, to be spontaneous. “If I try to think too much and force it, it doesn’t work,” she concludes.

Inspiration, muses Hidden Velvet, can visit in the form of a picture, a painting, a movie, a song. Notes the artist, “I work with music; it helps me to immerse myself in the story I’m about to tell. Music is very important, I often listen to soundtracks and classical music to create.” Some specific artistic influences include:  Tim Burton, David Lynch, Frida Kahlo, Egon Schiele, Leonora Carrington, Kay Sage, Edgar Allan Poe, Max Ernst, Camille Rose Garcia, Thomas Kuntz, Kathryn Polk, Lola Gil, Edward Gorey, John Kenn Mortensen, Aubrey Beardsley, Ryan Heshka, Jim McKenzie, Alessandro Sicioldr, Fernbeds, Adam Wallacavage, Yosiell Lorenzo, Rafael Silveira, Kris Kuksi, Alexis Diaz, Camille Claudel. “I’m an absolute fan of Vincent Price, Bela Lugosi, Eva Green and Tom Waits,” she adds, and continues, “I also find inspiration by reading tales and legends from around the world. The last books I found very inspiring were “Cinderella“, “Snow White” and “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland” illustrated by Camille Rose Garcia.”

A pensive dreamer with a fondness for solitude, Hidden Velvet spent a childhood in realms of her own making, reading books, writing stories and creating characters–but it never bothered her, being alone. What she does find troubling, though, is injustice and intolerance; “I have a real tenderness for lost souls, those who have had a tormented life, those who are “different” and judged because of it.” She earnestly observes as an afterthought, ” …so maybe that’s why there are melancholic characters in my world of dreams… I find it more interesting to tell a story with flawed characters. We live in an aseptic era, where we have to be so perfect…but we are not…and it’s ok.”

An elusive creature whose instagram hints at moths, dainty collars and porcelain dolls, vintage silhouettes, and silent film stills, but not overly much about the human behind the moody, melancholic art, I asked Hidden Velvet what she might like Haute Macabre readers to know about her. Quick to note that she is not consciously trying to be mysterious, but rather that we are living in an era where it has become normal to share everything about one’s life on social media. “I don’t judge it at all, it’s just something I don’t feel comfortable with, but you can definitely get to know me through my collages.”

“I can tell you this”, she sweetly divulges:

I’m Belgian, Italian, and Polish • I’m an only child • Simple things make me happy • I want to be amazed like a child as long as possible •  The book I cherish the most is “Les Contes de Charles Perrault”, it’s a very old book with no cover and beautiful illustrations, I have read it thousands and thousands of times • I like to have lots of books; I keep buying them even if I haven’t read the old ones • I’m a vinyl addict • I love biographies • I hate cult movie remakes • I adore vintage furniture and clothing • I wish I was a painter • When I was a child, we used to go to my nonno’s (grandfather) house on Sundays, we started eating at noon and finished at eight or nine. There was always room for a friend or a neighbor. My nonno was an excellent cook and the funniest person. He passed away in 1995 and I miss him everyday • I’d like to have an animal shelter • I have a cabinet of curiosities • When I’m hanging with my close friends, I sometimes discreetly put chocolate on my teeth and smile…

“My art comes from the heart and what makes me really happy about sharing it online is to read people’s interpretations. When you create, you put a lot of yourself into the art form and, when it resonates with someone out there, that’s the best feeling you could have as an artist.”

Those who admire the art of Hidden Velvet should stay tuned, as she has plans to open a shop with limited editions, in the near future. In the meantime, for updates and new work, find Hidden Velvet: Behance // instagram // facebook

This article was first published on Haute Macabre on June 13, 2017.

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