With the virtual spaces of art as it relates to fashion and music constantly evolving in today’s climate, 3D artists are shaping the world around them in new, innovative mediums. Among the extensive list of designers pushing digital art forward is Florida-based creative Keely “Poi” Majewski—an artist who has created an entirely new aesthetic by blurring the lines between exaggerated 3D sculptures as well as the nuances of reality and imagination.
Well-known in the design community for her unique, one-of-a-kind character arts, Keely’s work is rooted in both a keen sense of emotion and art from previous years as well as feelings that she experiences on a daily basis. Since she began, Poi has caught the attention of Tyler, the Creator, Rosalía, Lil Cherry, and a number of others. Elsewhere, references to the 90s era, fashion, and pop culture appear across her work.
Towards the tail-end of 2019, Poi embarked on her daily art challenge, revisiting some of her earlier illustrations whilst also bringing new works of art to life. “Having a constant urge to express and create—even when the idea sucks, it can be overwhelming, especially when I don’t act on it right away. I feel like this was the main drive to try making something daily,” she tells us. “I first challenged myself to complete a year of daily art, that was three years ago and I have yet to miss a day.” The character designs themselves have quite frankly taken on a life of their own, with several of them—such as the BBs—reoccurring throughout her feed.
In our latest interview, we spoke with Keely Majewski to chat about her introduction to 3D art, incorporating fashion into her designs, and tackling representation and insecurities of her own within art. Read on for our conversation.
To begin with, can you share your background and how you eventually fell into 3D art and illustration?
My life has always revolved around creating in one way or another. I’ve always had so many thoughts swirling in my head that I just feel the urge to get out in a creative medium. When I finally sat down to experiment with 3D at the start of 2020, I dove in head first and I was hooked. I felt like the combination of 3D and my illustrative work was what I always wanted my work to resemble in a way. It just felt right.
I’d love to know the genesis of your daily art challenge, as well as some of the biggest takeaways from it thus far.
Having a constant urge to express and create—even when the idea sucks, it can be overwhelming, especially when I don’t act on it right away. I feel like this was the main drive to try making something daily. I first challenged myself to complete a year of daily art, that was three years ago and I have yet to miss a day. When I think of the timeline of this challenge it blows my mind, it doesn’t seem possible, but when you get into a routine and genuinely enjoy it every day, it feels possible. I typically start my daily art every evening around 6-7 PM and work on a piece for 3-4 hours. It’s become a part of my life and it’s also changed my life.
My biggest takeaways are:
– It’s a great way to learn new creative skills fast.
– Daily art has completely changed and improved my problem-solving skills, even in other areas of my life.
– Not every piece will be great, but the process is worth it for tomorrow’s work. – It’s not sustainable long term, especially when you want to start working on larger-scale projects.
How would you describe your current aesthetic and overarching style? Is there a muse that you have in mind when creating?
It’s pretty hard to define my overall style, I feel like it fluctuates and is based heavily on my mood. The way my characters look have always been built off of my early work as a kid, exaggerated, intense, and lots of emotions. A lot of my work pulls from things I experience on a daily basis, depression and chronic pain.
You often explore the world of fashion across your character designs—what’s your relationship with fashion and how does it inform your work?
Fashion has always been a huge influence on my work, even before 3D. I remember as a kid, around 10 years old, I loved looking at fashion magazines and I would just spend hours trying to draw the different poses and clothing. They’re quite funny to look at now, but I feel like that experience stuck with me. Fast forward a couple of years, watching RuPaul’s Drag Race and Project Runway marathons with my mom always made me feel super inspired and I would usually have my sketchbook next to me when we watched! Fashion is just another form of expression, to me, it goes hand in hand with visual art.
With that in mind, do you have any hopes of working with more brands and individuals as the digitization of models and virtual runways are seemingly becoming more popular? If so, who?
I think it would be lovely to work with more fashion-based brands! I don’t have anyone specific in mind at the moment, but I would say my favorite brands to work with are the small businesses that contact me. I’m just so thankful to be in a position where I can be introduced to these brands that are amazing independently owned businesses putting out innovative and sustainable fashion.
Furthermore, how do you assert your own personal identity and experiences through your work as well?
Creating visual art has always been my way of self-expression. It’s helped me overcome so many different obstacles in my life, especially when it comes to my mental health and physical health. I feel like that sentiment exists in almost all of my work, especially recently. Sitting down each day to put complete focus on the piece I’m making is how I cope and release the built-up emotion of feeling helpless due to chronic pain. Whether it’s anger, sadness, or emptiness, it’s there. Even if it’s not obvious in the piece itself, the process of making it carries those emotions.
Previously, you spoke of your hesitation to include heavier or plus-sized characters in your work as a result of past and present insecurities. How do you cope with self-doubt and what are your plans to approach more representation across your characters?
As a plus-size woman that has always been plus-sized, it was a huge hesitation because of how cruel people can be, especially on the internet. When I first posted a character design that was plus size, the sense of dread was intense to say the least. It felt like I was putting a piece of myself out there for criticism and ridicule. I was pleasantly surprised at the amazing response and that has allowed me to open up more and explore more personal themes in my work as a whole.
On that note, representation is extremely important to me. I feel like my work prioritizes representation in a number of ways, so I want to just keep building off of that. Whenever someone asks me about this, I could talk about it for hours, but it always comes down to: Art is for everyone. Everyone deserves to feel represented.
Beyond that, how should we as consumers perceive not only your work but yourself above all?
However they want! That’s what art is all about.
Elsewhere in art, graphic designer Iconbrick reimagines music icons and album covers in LEGOs.