Visuals / Interview
Spicy and Sweet -
A chat with Vootsak
Words and interview by Fred Carlyle
Wednesday 13th July, 2022

With our conversation ranging from web comics to encountering questionable individuals on Smith Street, we chat with Melbourne visual artist Vootsak who shares insight into the inspirations and processes that form her visually confident yet anxious and introspective art style.

Being raised by a recognisable busker and professional illustrator, Cam, a 21 year old from Preston, has been involved in the world of art since she was born. As she explains, “Being surrounded by my parents’ pursuit of art and environmentalism has really left an imprint on me and inspired every move I make artistically.”

Vootsak, the name of both Cam's Instagram account and artistic alter-ego, began in her high school years as a platform to share the art that communicated the emotions she kept isolated in her subconsciousness. “I would just spam heaps of art every day on that account. I don't know what I was thinking at the time. I think it was just teenage turmoil. And just wanting a space to draw art to show how I'm feeling and post it. Teenage angst stuff, ya know?”

The style of Vootsak’s work, in which she describes as “spicy and sweet” and adhering to the female gaze, has been procured from a multitude of inspirations, spanning from her music taste to her fascination with visual novels. The use of hyper-feminine and bubblegum colour palettes that defines this style has been heavily influenced by her guilty pleasure of music divas such as Kim Petras, Marina and QT.

“I love how unapologetically flamboyant and girly the genre of bubblegum pop is. Anything really hyper and ridiculous gives me a burst of energy. A lot of people tell me my art looks like it’s drawn by a female, which I don't know what that means but I’m glad.”

When discussing the inclusion of text bubbles and narration that’s seen throughout her work, Cam explains “I read lots of web comics in high school. What I would do every day was go home, get on my computer, open up webcomic websites or browse subreddits, and I would just consume fuck loads of art.”

Web comics such as Snot Girl, Tank Girl and Stick n Poke have been fundamental in the establishment of Vootsak’s art - not only for her visual style but the themes and topics embedded within.

Delving into topics of sexuality and socialising, Vootsak's visually confident yet anxious and introspective art style acts as a diary that provides a fantastical reflection of Cam's journey and experiences as a young adult. This year, Cam has transferred from living under her family’s roof in Ringwood to share-housing with strangers in Preston, consequently entering the next chapter of her life and discovering new inspirations for Vootsak.

“At the moment, I'm getting a lot of inspiration from nightlife and little social circles, especially on Smith Street. I love going there. I enjoy just seeing all the flamboyant characters - all the kind of strange, wacky kinda drama that happens on those streets, you know.”

Involving herself into the nightlife and many social circles of Melbourne, aspects of the individuals she meets and the encounters she experiences serve towards the story of Vootsak, as she explains “I'm a people watcher. It sounds kind of weird, but sometimes I have a lens that I take on and off where I see people as weird little archetypes, if that makes sense. Everyone's a character to me. On a psychological level, it's just my way of dealing with things. Just viewing people as little characters that are a part of my story.”

Vootsak’s work often depicts the human body in its natural and naked form, whether that is to display traits of confidence or vulnerability. “A lot of my artwork involves sexuality. And as a young woman, it's like we're so fucking shunned for expressing any indication of having desires, you know?” When asked why she delves into these themes of sexuality, Cam shares that “it’s important to display and highlight the sexual confidence of females and confidence of anybody. I don't try to make it all about just being horny. Sexual confidence isn't just like being a sexy diva. It’s about feeling confident to reject people that you don't want, saying no. And knowing your limits, knowing your boundaries. You know it's not all about bonking.”

Alongside her individual artworks, Cam is in the process of creating a variety of projects, including making her own music and unveiling comic series such as, Just Say What You Mean”, which she explains to be about a “non-confrontational young woman that talks to an entity each time she gets blacked-out drunk.”

On why she uses Vootsak as a platform to convey her inner emotions and vulnerabilities, Cam explains that “I think it's just necessary to reiterate that no one's fucking perfect. And we're not all fucking superheroes.” When asked what drives her to share her art to an audience, she tells us “I want my audience to feel less alone? I don't know. I mean, because if they feel less alone, I feel less alone in my struggles.”
Check out the first three instalments of Vootsak's comic series Just Say What You Mean here, and follow Vootsak below to keep up to date with all her work.