Cool Girls Can Love Pop Culture, Just Ask Art Baby Girl
Walking into the Brooklyn apartment of artist and designer Grace Miceli, better known on the Internet as Art Baby Girl, is like walking into what the inside of your high school locker would look like if instead of sixteen, you were actually twenty-six. From the poster of Harmony Korine’s divisive 2013 film Spring Breakers to the Nicki Minaj ass shots and immaculately white bed accessorized with a beautiful pair of furry handcuffs chained to the otherwise girly frame, this is a house fueled by girl power in the purest sense. The whole thing made me feel like I was back in high school, sitting on my best friend’s bed, and about to fall into one of those talks that seem to cover every aspect of life: hopes, dreams, anxieties, boys, and what the answer to question 3 was.
I have a feeling Grace Miceli gets this a lot. Like Drake, whom she has a bit of an obsession with but insists that it’s just a friend crush-type thing, Grace Miceli is the kind of public figure who you just know you would be BFFs with, if only you ever got the chance to hang out. For an artist of the social media generation, this is one of Miceli’s biggest strengths. Her sense of humor and ability to warp pop culture staples into something more subversive is another.
As she handed me a plastic cup filled with wine, I passed her a rolled paper full of marijuana. To the dulcet sounds of Queen Nicki Minaj, we sat down on her bed to talk about art, selfies, and Tila Tequila, while we may or may not have been high AF.
So, where are you from?
That’s kind of like a hard question – I was born in Chicago, like, kind of grew up there, but then I went to high school and college in Massachusetts, and my parents live in Vermont now…so, yeah, it’s nice, but I don’t really have someplace that’s like, my hometown.
When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?
I think I like, always was interested – like, my mom’s an artist and she always like, not pushed it on me, but would always encourage me to do stuff and make stuff. I got more serious in college. Like early college I thought I was more interested in critical studies, and maybe going to Grad School to work in a curatorial program, but then I just started taking studio classes and I was like, “Yo, this is so fun.”
Where did you go to college?
Smith, it’s a women’s college.
What was it like going to an all-women’s college?
Smith was fun, and I think it’s definitely a school that instills a lot of confidence and helps you understand the importance of having that supportive female community with you everywhere you are. So yeah, it definitely was a great thing for me to go there. I spent my junior year abroad in London at Goldsmiths, which is an art school, where all I did was like, party and hang out with boys, so I think it’s good that I like, didn’t do that for four years.
How did you get involved in the arts scene in New York?
I mean, I think it just all kind of came from the Internet. That’s how you find out about other artists who are like, kind of your peers, or whatever, and then you just like, start following each other and then you become real friends.
When did you make the decision to also do fashion?
That was something that also was like, a thing I wanted to do when I was younger. When I was young and naive that seemed like the coolest job you could ever have. I did some joke projects in college where I made clothes, but when you wanna try and do something but you don’t want to fail at it, you kinda of come at it as a joke. You’re kinda like pretending, “I’m just being funny doing this,” but like really you’re like, “this is what I wanna do so bad,” and that’s how I was approaching it.
When I stated doing my drawings people would often comment to me, “That would look so cool on a shirt” and I was like, “yeah, yeah” but one day I was just like, “f*ck it – I’m gonna make some cute crop tops.” It was never some project I set out to do, I was just bored one day, and probably high, and so I did it and people started buying them and from years of building up that supportive online community, it took off enough to the point where I could just start having more freedom, making enough money off of it to keep trying stuff.
What’s the most rewarding thing about making clothes?
It’s just a way I’m making myself more accessible. A teenager can’t buy one of my paintings, but they can spend $30-$40 on a shirt. And that’s how I’ve caught on. More attention is from — like my friends wearing clothes i’ve made out, and then someone is like, “omg where’d you get that?” I love that clothes can get people talking about you.
What’s your favorite piece you’ve ever made?
Yo, that’s so hard. I like this painting, I like Lola a lot. It’s weird to call a cartoon like a feminist icon, but that’s how I feel about her. I was a tomboy, I was into sports and shit when I was younger – being from Chicago, Space Jam was such an important movie and she was this bad ass sexy bunny, who’s like so good, she’s better than all the boys at basketball, and I was like, “I want to be that kind of girl.”
What’s a typical day for you when you’re going to do some work?
Usually what will happen is, I’ll be out somewhere, doing something, hanging out with my friends, talking about stupid shit – and then we’ll just mention a word and I’ll be like, “yo, I wanna draw that.” So then I’ll just pop home and — yeah, just watch TV – I’m always watching things, and then while I’m doing that, I’ll just draw really quickly – I do my shit really quick I scan it in, play around with it in photoshop. I don’t think about things that much at all, I don’t like plan pieces, at all, I’ll just think about something and be like, I need to draw this within the next hour. So it‘s just whatever happens.
So what are you watching right now?
Today I watched 50 Shades of Grey, and it was so funny. I was laughing out loud. I used to watch so much shit all the time, but i don’t have time for that now. I’d rather make art than watch TV.
And what are you working on right now?
I’m really interested — do you know Nicole Reber? She’s my friend, she’s an artist and a curator, we were just talking a lot about streetwear, the both of us are really into boys’ 90s streetwear – No Fear, all those sorts of brands that there never was really like the female equivalent of that. There’s X-Girl, which is Kim Gordon’s line, but other than that, there’s never really been like a present, female streetwear designer, so I don’t know, not that that’s what I’m doing, but I’m interested in exploring that more, and maybe building a brand that’s more aggressive, even with the type of…
Art that you’re already doing?
Yeah, I want to figure out my stuff in relation to the idea of a streetwear brand. I don’t know what that means or what I’m gonna do with it, but that’s what I’ve thinking about.
Do you like drawling or painting more?
It just depends on how focused I’m feeling. Usually I can’t focus enough to do a painting because of the time it takes, so I have to — depending on just how my brain is working, I’ll draw. But if I’m like, feeling more calm and chill and — honestly, if I have more time, if I have a day off, I’ll paint. Drawing I can do in like an hour before I go to work. So I think it depends on how much focus I feel during the day.
When it comes to fashion, are there any trends that you just hate?
No, I love everything. Everything has its place. Every trend, someone thinks, this looks so good, and every trend gives the person wearing it a confidence, cause you’re like, I look cool! And I never want anyone to not think that they look cool.
Yeah, even Uggs, North Faces, everything, like flame bowling shirts, everything has its place. I’m down for all of it.
Alright, so you take a good amount of selfles –
In your opinion, what makes for the perfect selfie?
You have to think you look really hot in it, that’s important. And I don’t really like low-lighting selfies, or filters if I’m being honest
So you live the no-filter life?
Yeah, like I’ll adjust my brightness, I’ll adjust my contrast, I’ll maybe like lower my warmth a little, but I don’t f*** with filters. But again, so long as you feel hot in your selfie, that’s all that matters. It’s just reminding everybody how cute you are.
If you had all the money in the world right now, what would you be doing?
Honestly, I would probably just chill in bed a lot. Watch shit. And just hang out with my friends. I would have a bed that was like a whole room, did you ever watch the Tila Tequila dating show?
There was like a bed that like thirty people slept on. i’d have a bed that big, and me and my friends would hang out in it, just going back and forth between listening to Drake and watching MTV and we would snack we’d make stuff sometimes, but we’d mostly just hang out. That’s just what I like to do, I like to hang out with my friends. Like, yes I like to go out, I like to make art, but what I like to do most is just chill.
OK, So this is the worst question ever, but like, best case scenario, what do you you see yourself doing in five years?
I want my own shop, I want my own gallery/shop thing. I want to quit my day job, and I want to just have a shop that sells my clothes, my friends’ clothes, my friends’ art, my art. The dream is to have some gallery/store space that has weekend workshops for teen girls, like make art, like I want that corny shit. That question kind of gives me a panic attack, but it’s okay. I’m living right now, so it’s good. I’m doing it now, I can keep doing it for a few years.
Is there anything else?
Yeah, I guess I want to talk about Drake really quickly. I know I talk and post about Drake a lot and everybody probably thinks I’m probably like, obsessed with Drake, but I just feel like, I hope one day we meet. Like I just want to be his friend that like, supports him and appreciates him, and I just feel that we would be really good friends. But I just want to make a public service annoucement: I don’t want to marry Drake. That’s not what my love is, and that’s not what my devotion is about.
Last, but not least, if you could invite 5 celebrities, living or dead, to your dinner party, who would you pick?
Okay, Drake and Rihanna, just because, I love them both so much, Nev Schulman from Catfish, Kirsten Dunst in Bring It On, and okay, I get one more…Travis Scott. Drake is my best friend crush, and Travis Scott is like my actual crush. He’s just some eye candy I can stare at from across the table.