Vince Okerman, known online as "Vexx,"is a Belgian multidisciplinary visual artist, globally noted for his signature "doodles" style. Vexx sits as one of the most recognized artists of his generation, with a combined social media following of over three and a half million subscribers and followers, and has partnered with brands including Gucci, Porche, Puma, Spongebob Squarepants, Red Bull, and Amazon among others.
Could you please tell me your career story and background?
I started taking art more seriously when I turned 16 and wanted to pursue my goal of becoming an artist. I started posting a new drawing each and every day on Instagram and quickly grew an audience of a couple of thousand people. Through this process, I discovered my colorful doodle style, and people loved it! From there, I started making YouTube videos about my process, and that’s when my career completely exploded. More recently, I’ve been venturing into the ‘real’ art world, making appearances in museums, selling high-quality, limited-edition art prints, paintings, NFTs, art toy sculptures, etc. That’s my career in a nutshell! I’m 24 now, and I’m from Belgium. My art studio is located in Brussels.
Why did you decide to become an artist? Who or what specifically inspired you?
I’ve always made art as a kid and was always pretty good at it (I realized later on). When turning 14-15, I became interested in drawing comics and reading related books. Art history was also something I suddenly took great interest in. I think it was then that I decided I wanted to become an artist. Even though my parents thought it was impossible to make a career out of art, artists like KAWS and Musketon (Belgian artists) were the ones that inspired me to make my dream a reality.
When did you first start using Copic markers and what made you decide to use them?
I started using Copic markers when I was 16 with the creation of my Instagram page. My reason for using them is a pretty unique one, I believe… my thought process was like, since many professionals were using Copic markers and their work was incredible, if I had the exact same tools as them, I have zero excuses to not make wonderful work at their level. If I couldn’t, there are only my art skills to blame. So, if I had the same tools as professionals, but my art wasn’t as good, that means I need to improve my skills and spend more hours drawing! I’m super lucky to have been able to get my first set of Copic markers as a birthday present, it's the only thing I wanted! I still use them today, and I have every single Copic marker color that exists. I started with set 36A.
What is your favorite type of Copic marker (e.g. Copic sketch, Copic ciao, Copicclassic, Copic wide, Copic Ink)? Are there any specific colors you routinely use and why?
Copic Sketch is my favorite of course, the brush tip is just so satisfying and amazing to use! I have a pretty wide color spectrum I use, but my green markers stay pretty untouched overall (laughs). Mostly pinks and yellows run out quickly. I also love to use fluorescent markers!
Your work combines fun and colorful doodles with realistic drawings. How did you come up with your unique style?
It actually started out as a black & white style. I didn’t like to use color at all. But the doodles were already present and I really loved the idea of combining multiple small characters to create one big image. People loved it immediately, so I kept exploring this idea. After a couple months, I started using colors when I got my Copic markers. Now I love the coloring process the most!
What is your favorite part of the creation process?
The coloring process has become my favorite. I start with finding a color scheme for the drawing, trying to select 5-10 main colors. Then I print the black and white drawing and use simple dots to determine which doodle will get which color, and how it works with the color next to the subject. There can never be two of the same color next to each other.
Do you have any unique tips or tricks you could share with Copic fans?
There are no rules! Use any medium however you see fit. I think there are too many tutorials out there and too many cookie-cutter ways of doing things. Create your own techniques. There are no rules in art, and I think the most important artists in the world are the ones that have realized that. But most importantly: have fun and keep creating!
You recently collaborated with Gucci. How did you manage to connect your style with the image of such a well-known brand?
It was pretty fun; they basically gave me an archive of iconic Gucci assets and granted me ‘carte blanche’ meaning I could make whatever I want! It had to represent the future of Gucci and the works are sold as 1/1 NFTs on the Gucci Vault platform. I’ve always envisioned my doodles to fit more with a luxury vibe instead of a childlike vibe even though the art is very colorful and kid-like. It was fun to explore this area with my art and create Gucci artwork with my doodles.
You have entered the NFT market. What do you think it means for artists to be able to sell their digital art using blockchain and cryptocurrency technology?
I think it’s the next renaissance for artists! So many digital artists never were able to sell their work in a fitting way. Now with blockchain technology, it is finally possible, and I’ve never been this excited about a new art movement! I’m so proud to be part of it, and I’m paving my own path and discovering new things that have never been done before. My ‘MOON’ NFT is currently the centerpiece of MOCO Museum Amsterdam, which also exhibits Banksy, KAWS, Murakami, Hirst, Basquiat, Keith Haring,…
I truly believe this NFT movement will be the next big thing and it’s so exciting to see it evolve every day.
In your recent works, you have challenged digital animation. However, we heard you are still using Copic for the coloring process. Why are you still using analog art materials in this digital age?
I still prefer the traditional touch that Copic gives to my art. I actually created a digital brush that emulates the feeling of Copic markers (the grain, the color blending, etc.) so I can maintain that hand-made feeling!
You are publishing your second coloring book in October. Please tell us about the book.
The first coloring book was such an INSANE success! It sold over 200,000 units in its first 2 years which still blows my mind to this day… It’s an area of my career that I truly underestimated but now I’m committed to creating the best coloring books I can, and it starts with my 2nd book ‘Mythotopia’, which drops on October 4, 2022. Mythotopia is all about mythological creatures in my art style combined with some classics and of course some Vexx Dragons. I’m really proud of how this one came out.
Check this page here more details about Vexx's second coloring book.