Vikki Sin loves life. That’s why she’s fascinated with death.
Or, to be more specific, that timeless symbol of death: the skull.
“It’s a strange thing to think that that’s what we have inside of us. People forget when you see a skull that that’s a human. To think, that’s what we’re reduced to. We’re just bones, walking around,” Sin says.
“We’re all here for such a short amount of time and we all think we’re such grand beings, but the truth is we’re fragile and we can go at any moment. I don’t think people fully grasp that. I go on Facebook and I instantly regret it because I see what people are talking about, and they’re so concerned with bitching about the way other people live their lives. People don’t even take the time to live their own lives.”
Sin knows her interest in redefining the skull as a symbol of life as much as death may seem odd to some people, but then, the Harveys Lake-based artist always knew she was different (“I was the kid in study hall reading Nietzsche,” she recalls). The original paintings and handcrafted jewelry she makes and sells under the banner Pretties for You – named after an Alice Cooper album, of course – is evidence enough of that.
In addition to many images of grinning skulls against murky, semi-abstract backdrops, Sin’s artwork runs a grim gamut, from surreal visions of toothy, tentacle flowers to portraits of rock stars, serial killers, horror movie icons, and even people’s pets.
“It’s funny. I’m kind of known for two different things: I’m known for painting skulls and killer flowers and things like that, and I’m known for doing commissioned pet portraits. I love painting pets because I love animals. It’s usually done for people whose pets have passed away. I know that when I give them the painting, they’re going to get emotional about it,” Sin explains.
“I always say I like to paint things with skulls, whether they have a face still attached or not. It’s all a part of the life cycle. If I’m painting something dead or if I’m painting something alive, it’s not that different for me.”
Though Sin started Pretties for You in 2010, she admits it’s only been in the last year that she’s taken it seriously enough to dedicate herself to it utterly. Now, Pretties for You isn’t just something she does when she comes home from her day job. It is her day job.
“A lot of people want to be an artist, but it’s another thing to make a living at it,” Sin says.
“There have been times when I couldn’t eat for three days, but it’s something I’m serious about doing. You have to make it your main focus if you are going to make a living at it. Before that, you have another job and you’re an artist on the side. When you start focusing just on being an artist, that’s when people start seeing you as a real artist.”
Nevertheless, though Sin depends on her art to pay her rent, she asserts that she’s not interested in changing her subject matter to make it more commercial or otherwise appeal to more mainstream, decidedly less morbid tastes.
“Art should make you feel something, and this is what does that for me. Sunshine is all well and good, but darkness is relatable, at least to me. I think dark art makes you feel better by helping you realize that there are other people who have felt the way you do,” Sin says.
“I’m a realist, not an optimist. People have bad times. It’s part of experiencing life. If you can’t understand that, if you can’t look at a darker painting and understand where it’s coming from, I feel like you don’t understand life. You may look at me weird, but, to me, you’re the one that’s weird.”