Today we’d like to introduce you to Vee.
Hi Vee, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I started drawing as a kid.
My first memory of drawing was on the way back from either my babysitter’s house or school. I had an interest in drawing my father on the way home – and as we were going home I drew him in the car. After the ride, I showed it to him and he was so proud he told both my mother and my brother to look at the amazing drawing I did. That’s my very first memory of drawing.
Afterward, I focused mainly on Manga and Anime art – my first love – and gradually practiced different techniques as an art student throughout grade school to hone my personal style. Depending on the project, I will draw things in anime/manga style, but rarely do I incorporate it in my art anymore unless it specifically has to do with the piece.
Now, I have my own company (xSubtlexSmilex®) to sell my artwork through.
It is also my record label where I make and produce my own music. I was always a bit of an instrumentalist growing up and had a high affinity for music. I actually wanted to double major in music composition and music technology as a college student and dreamed of working in the studio with other artists, but I did Asian Studies instead (which I was fine with).
I make, mix, and sing all my own songs. I am still learning as I go through, and growing as a professional musician, but the projects I am working on at the moment are really coming together.
My hope is that there will be kindred spirits around the world who will resonate in some way with my work and will come along with me on this journey. I hope they become inspired by my work and inspired to do something they love or something positive in their life for themselves and the people around them.
This year will be a big year for my work, if not the biggest till now.
Can you talk to us a bit about the challenges and lessons you’ve learned along the way? Looking back would you say it’s been easy or smooth in retrospect?
I was always extremely discouraged from doing this career. As an adult, I understand why, but I still didn’t want to live my life knowing what could have been.
A lot of career struggles came not only within my family but within myself. I was told this was not a successful career path, and my family pushed for me to have one of the stereotypical careers of an Indian-American (like a doctor, engineer, etc.). In fact, I think I’m the only non-doctor or non-engineer in my family, minus my mother who did finance (which is still considered to be a great career). Because I grew up being told this, I always thought this is what my future was going to be.
It wasn’t, and I’m so very happy with that.
Before this, I actually tried to forget about what I wanted to do – and was successful for a while. I was actually a language teacher for nearly a decade (5 years in Japan and 4 years in the U.S., teaching Japanese and English, plus translating) before I decided to call it quits just this March 2022. But I was extremely unhappy with how companies treated me, and how I was viewed as an employee for most of my career, often being undervalued and underpaid for work no one else could or would do.
After becoming ill because of the stress of my last job in Japan, and the stress of my personal life, I decided that it was time to do what I always knew to be my calling. While tutoring in the U.S., I started building my company. And I didn’t know how it would go if I never tried – plus I was highly confident in my creations. It was the business side that definitely scared me more.
I told my family what I was going to do, and the elders were reluctantly approving – although my grandfather was extremely proud – and I’ve come quite far in a few years. Things are only looking up. As I’ve proved myself, they have been more and more genuinely happy for my success. I really don’t talk about my work with them, but from the things, I tell them they seem to be happy with my progress.
However, my brother and my cousins follow my social media to see my work and give me genuine words of encouragement along the way. It makes me extremely happy they like what I do!
But being a first-generation Indian-American, all of this is only to be expected. Like I said, as an adult, I understand. Our families choose these careers for us because it’s what they know – if we face difficulties our family will be able to guide us. But losing the majority of my family at a young age, along with other crap growing up, I really have no fear – not to mention I was born head-strong out of my mother thanks to my father’s personality, and I guarantee if life were different, whatever I would have chosen I would’ve been headstrong in, too.
Not only have my brother and cousins and I have gone through it, but many in the Indian-American community also seem to have a similar story – they want to do one thing with their life, and are told not to do so, so they pick a career their parents or family picks for them.
So, if anyone in the community has gone astray like me (haha), there is room for you in other fields, especially in the arts. Don’t give up!
Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I am most known for my pop art, contemporary art, clothing creations, and music – all done under my own company and record label, xSubtlexSmilex®.
It all started right before the Covid-19 pandemic, which I’m sure no one planned (I hope, hahaha).
Since my creations really boomed during the Covid-19 lockdown, I couldn’t see if I could do an art show somewhere, so I did 3 virtual art show that live-streamed on Twitch – the Galaxy Series, the Character Series, and The Nightmare Room. They were the first three shows I did myself – completing projects back to back to back for three months.
It was very successful. People who often didn’t view my channel came by as well, and it was such a great feeling. I knew then my creations were liked by many people. I was extremely proud of myself for taking the dive, and I haven’t stopped since.
I also started my creations for my street art/pop art-based fashion. I have three lines that are “mass-produced”, but in limited quantities: The “Dream in Colour” series, the “Angel Bear: Inked” series, and the “Angel Bear on 420” series. These are the only series’ that have multiples of the same design. Otherwise the clothing, I hand paint is all one-of-a-kind.
I do model my own clothing, too. After doing this, I have gained an even higher respect for models – it’s very difficult!! Lastly, I have also started my music career. Right now, I have 5 singles released, trying out different styles. My next project is coming together, very well, and will be more of what I want to do. Of course, I will never say no to more experimenting though!
This year has much more to come, in all fields. So please drop a follow on my social media!
Can you talk to us a bit about happiness and what makes you happy?
My happiness takes many forms.
Doing what I dream of every day. Staying hard at work because it’s what I feel is my purpose for the time being. Relaxing and making time for all the billion hobbies that I love. Taking a walk in nature, while listening to the sounds of the earth. Then sitting outside on a nice warm day with a fresh cup of tea, maybe while reading, writing, or drawing.
If I am busy and unable to do these things, I work with the windows open. When I can. Always. Always.
I love fresh air.
- The Kaleidoscope – Member’s only area through website! Early access to art & music, videos, plus my personal blog and vlogs – $7/month
- Website: xsubtlexsmilex.com
- Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/xsubtlexsmilex/
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/xsubtlexsmilex
- Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCV6PCY8z1uLcelQ_y8WcyJg
- Other: https://open.spotify.com/artist/3lXuZYFkJq7t8Ir1CMY1Ah?si=B60XjMF5TOSDdpLIIXyyLw
@theblackbirdwhistling and Vee