Thursday Spotlight: Pinky Weber Dishes on Donuts and the Patriarchy

Pinky Weber, photo by Ian Hartsoe

It’s hard to mistake an original by Pinky Weber. With their striking colors and iconic motifs, Pinky’s works look beautiful in varying mediums — as murals on brick buildings or even as square images on Instagram. Greenpointers spoke with the artist, the first in our May Thursday Spotlights to also be participating in the upcoming Greenpoint Open Studio. She’ll be featured in the neighborhood-wide event on June 2–3 — look out for her enjoyable and comical pieces next month! Til then, learn more about her perspective on street art, women in the field, and — above all — donuts in our engaging interview below.

Greenpointers: How long have you been in Brooklyn?

Pink Weber: I’m originally from San Francisco, but first moved to New York City in 2010 to attend Parsons The New School for Design. After a few years of Manhattan life under my belt, I decided Brooklyn was where I needed to be. I moved to Greenpoint in 2013 and haven’t looked back since!

GP: You’re a donut enthusiast! Are you a Peter Pan loyalist or do you have other favorites?

PW: Yes! I love donuts so much that my first mural was a 20×30 foot donut mural in Bushwick, which I painted as a collab with Christian Hooker. I’m pretty loyal to my gals in the green and pink uniforms over at Peter Pan, but occasionally dabble in the donuts at Dough Donuts.

GP: Do you have a project you’re proudest of?

PW: A big highlight of the past year was my first solo show, Pinky’s Playground, which opened in September. With Pinky’s Playground, I really wanted to immerse viewers in a completely ‘Pinky’ experience. The hardest part of the show was finding a gallery who was down with my vision…and also willing to let me paint the walls and ceilings of the gallery bright pink! Once I found the space, I created a list of over 300 of my favorite objects (including Tamagotchi’s, lava lamps, coconut drinks, toilet paper, ant farms, furbies, etc.) then narrowed that list down. Once I drew out the 125 of so icons by hand, I scanned, vectorized, and colored the drawings digitally before printing them out in various and scales to wheatpaste throughout the gallery.

However, I didn’t stop at the walls! I also covered the entire floor with astroturf to create a miniature golf course, and created a custom donut mascot “Larry the Donut” who passed out pink donuts at the opening. I had a ton of fun creating this show with my team and would love to work on something similar in the future.

GP: Do you have a surface medium you prefer? Prints or street art or the even the pins you sell online?

PW: I’m absolutely infatuated with street art. Taking a doodle from my sketchbook and reworking it to make an impact at a distance on a large scale surface is quite the challenge. There are more restrictions of working outside, and I’m often dealing with surfaces that include holes, dirt, and strange dimensions. I also find it easy to get caught up in the details (since I am painting so close to the wall), so I constantly have to remind myself that the most important part of a mural is how it is viewed at a distance.

Pinky Weber in her revamped Pencil Factory studio, photo by Ian Hartsoe

GP: What’s it like being an artist in the instagram era? Do you see it as a hindrance or a helping hand?

PW: I was super late to the Instagram game — or as I like to call it, my *~instaglam~* game. I’ve recently caught on more, but the reason for that is because it totally works for me and my work. My clean simple lines and bold bright colors are the perfect fit for being viewed on a screen and therefore is a great fit for my *~instaglam~*. However, I think the ‘gram can be a huge problem for a lot of artists, especially those who work on something like detailed fine art paintings. I’m lucky, but I try to keep in mind that Instagram isn’t the end of it all and try to see as much work in person as possible. Not all artwork can be expressed visually and I find that viewing artwork on a screen vs. in person tends to be a completely different experience. With most artwork, I find it difficult to truly understand the full depth of a piece until you see it in person.

GP: Are there any motifs that you come back and back to? Anything you’ve always drawn that continually pops up in your work?

PW: A few things that I consistently draw are donuts, pizza, butts, and wiener dogs. I think the reason that I keep coming back to these icons is because I tend to draw things I see in everyday life. However, I’m also a big believer in drawing the things that I like. I believe that if an artist is making work about the things that they care about, it keeps their work honest. Although donuts, pizza, butts and dogs may not be the most sophisticated subject matters, they are very much “me.” In the grand scheme of things, I’d say my work draws from pop, internet, and youth culture to sort of create a commentary/parody of current society…but I also just really like donuts!

GP: What does it mean to you to work in the Greenpoint Pencil Factory community?

The Pencil Factory also brings a lot of artists to the neighborhood which is the vibe that initially brought me to Greenpoint. I had always heard about the Pencil Factory when I was an Illustration BFA student at Parsons and while I was a student, we even had a class tour visiting illustration studios here! It’s kind of the place to be if you’re an illustrator so I’m pretty happy to be a member of the Pencil Factory fam…(but shhh! Don’t tell anyone that I secretly hate No. 2 pencils).

GP: Many arts industries have been discussing the issues women face. If you would like this opportunity to discuss your own experiences as a woman in the art field, please feel free.

PW: The discrimination I face as a female in the art world is exactly why my friends and I founded the Crybaby Collective after graduating Parsons. It’s been great to see more and more competitions, shows, and networks popping up for women involved in fine art and illustration. However, I’ve found that opportunities are extremely limited for women in the street art community. The lack of resources for female street artists is a big reason why people don’t associate women being involved in street art whatsoever, and there is a dire need for female-based mural projects. In the future, I would love to be involved/collaborate on something that would bring women in the street art community together.

Pinky Weber at work, photo by Ian Hartsoe

GP: Do you have any projects you are looking forward to most?

PW: In this business you get used to pulling a few all nighters every now and then… however, I’ve never worked as hard as I have in the past three months. I’m preparing for the National Stationery Show at the Javits Center this month and it will be the first time I’m debuting my merchandise (which I usually sell at small zine and comic festivals) on a large scale. I’m taking the products that I make by hand in my studio and manufacturing them at a large scale to present to buyers from all over the world. I see this as a way to earn a more sustainable living and grow my brand, while still being able to have fun and showcase my artwork. For me, being an artist is all about having fun and enjoying what I do. If I am not having fun at work, I’m not doing my job correctly.

About Billy McEntee

Billy McEntee has been fortunate to work for arts non-profits in Boston, Denver, Berkeley, and now New York. His writing has appeared in The Brooklyn Rail, Brooklyn Magazine, Indiewire, HowlRound, Eclectica Magazine, and others. He's usually getting wine at Dandelion or eating cookies at Archestratus.

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