By Meaghan Morton
NACOGDOCHES, TX – A neon pink face with ghoulish features and empty eyes stares while surrounded by floating, dripping, eyeballs; the next image is a melty pizza with wide, green eyes taking the place of pepperoni and hovering around yellow molars.
Brittney Holden, 26-year-old from Houston, works at Vagabond Vintage – a vintage clothing store on North Street in Nacogdoches. The storefront is packed with illustrations, paintings on canvas and posters from Holden, including the pieces described above. She works with several media: dried remains (skulls), jewelry, paint, clay and more. Holden said her parents and family, who are mostly portrait artists, encouraged her art.
“I always felt like I wasn’t really a good artist because I could never do portraits or like, realistic stuff,” Holden said. “I think it was right after high school that I could go like, a more surreal cartoon route with my stuff. It’s definitely turned into a strange mixture of some weird Nickelodeon and Adult Swim stuff…”
Holden laughed and looked around the shop. She said her work was definitely not PG-13 all of the time. On Holden’s Etsy shop there are pieces that, depending on taste, could be considered risqué. Some of the pieces make political statements, like graphic black and white stickers that say “Make racists afraid” and “Punch Nazis.”
Holden attributes her more risqué pieces to growing up watching The Rocky Horror Picture show and “trying to normalize sex in a way that’s not just cheesy sex scenes on TV.” Holden’s parents met at a Rocky Horror Picture Show performance in the 90’s in Houston.
“My dad actually played Rocky. My mom was just an audience member,” Holden said. “It definitely hits the nail on the head as far as like, my roots.”
Holden’s Etsy also features crystal jewelry.
“I think, like still, they all came from watching my grandmothers do stuff. I wouldn’t say that it necessarily came naturally, but it was definitely something that was offered to me a lot,” Holden said. “It’s fun too because I don’t have to just do paintings. If I’m bored with paintings there will be times where I won’t paint for like months and I’ll just make jewelry.”
Holden said a single piece can take as long as a couple of hours to months depending on how long she lets it sit before she gets back to it. Last year, she tried entering the Texas National Competition and Exhibition.
“I didn’t have the money for it. Then literally somebody the day before came in and bought every single one of my pieces here,” she said. “I had the money for it, but then I didn’t have any art to enter. So, it was a fair trade I guess, you know?”
Holden plans on entering in the next competition. Holden moved from Houston to Nacogdoches about four years ago.
“I think it’s strange because I used to never think that I would not want to live in the city, and then the longer I’ve stayed here, the more this has become almost like a little Austin vibe,” she said. “I know some really fun, talented, amazing people here and it’s a lot less of the rat-race that Houston is. I feel like I can relax and I feel like it’s easy to bring this town something that it needs, because there’s not a lot happening here, whereas a lot of the bigger cities are sort of over saturated.”
Holden said one of her goals was to get something together in Nacogdoches like an art community that can have a commercial space to work in and sell out of. She appreciates the support of the town.
“For how strange my stuff is and how small this town is and the kind of mindset I think a lot of people that are from here have, people have actually been super supportive,” Holden said. “I have never heard any negative thing to my face. It’s been super nice and I’m just super proud and appreciative.”
Vagabond Vintage is located on 2027 North St, Nacogdoches, TX.