Vessna Scheff, artist, musician

This post is part of our portrait/interview series with Emily "Birdie" Busch. Birdie's challenge is to tease out candid responses from fellow artistic, industrious women. Painters, mothers, musicians, brewers, bakers, and more. What muses!

I first met Vessna Scheff years ago when I was working behind the counter at The Random Tearoom in the Northern Liberties neighborhood in Philadelphia. She would come in with art supplies and set up at the circular table in the natural light of late afternoon and work. I quietly appreciated her roving studio set up and how she seemed able to carry her creativity with her wherever she went. I’d see her work on everything from portrait commissions to abstract pieces, and she always was very open to wanting to chat with others about their own paths while she worked. I would soon learn that she was also a musician and that she often weaves both visual art and music together as they both hold a strong place in her psyche. 


For the shoot I went to her home studio in South Philly to capture some of her more recent pieces. She currently is diving into larger scale work that consists of watercolors with oversize brushstrokes and various layers of paper. To observe her choosing the layers it’s as if she is pondering rare pebbles and stones and every move seems like a dance between intention and surprise.  She is currently applying to master’s programs in which she wants to focus on growing the relationship between visual art and music, especially for marginalized communities, and finding ways to foster more access for everyone looking to free themselves via the processes that have brought her to her own sense of liberation and love.

Vessna is photographed wearing National Picnic tops from the following collections: Leopard, Tigers, and No Bears, Ikat + Dot, and Fit to Print.

Recommended Vessna Scheff rabbit-holing: 

An all things Vessna website: https://www.vessnascheff.com/

Vessna takes commissions for portraits and abstracts and also leads watercolor workshops: https://www.vessnascheff.com/work-with-vessna 

A music video for her song “Echos”:

What is a career/creative moment you are proud of? 

Performing at the Affordable Art Fair in NYC. The cost was prohibitive as a visual artist to get a booth. They are upwards of $1000. Instead, I submitted a proposal for a performance to activate the space with a performance of a painting using fabrics, sound and movement with two incredible artist collaborators- Shanina Dionna and Bethlehem Roberson. We performed and brought our artistry to the space and instead of us paying to attend, were supported and paid to perform by the wonderful team who curated the night!

What are you listening to now? What are you looking at? What recipe you feeling? 

Right this minute, I am listening to "Bad Girls - Verdine Version Radio" on Spotify. This mix is really good. Vibey, grounded and energized is how I would describe it. 

I am looking at a catalogue from a show called "Four Generations" which was up at the Baltimore Museum of Art. It is a collection featuring all black abstract artists and their work/contributions to art history. It's a powerful collection. 

I am feeling the recipes from the "Oh She Glows" Cookbook. It's a vegan cookbook. The recipes are easy to make and so yummy! Just made a creamy tomato basil pasta. NOM!

How do you define your own personal style or approach to clothes? 

My requirement for clothes is I have to be able to do all the things I want in most of my clothes. Like I shouldn't require a change of outfit to work, ride a bike, perform a show and make art. I like versatile simple pieces that can be mixed and matched with everything else I own. This is what I aim for. Not that I always achieve it haha but it helps keeps my wardrobe simple so I can focus on the most important part of any outfit- confidence! 

What would be your advice to a teenage girl clothing and style wise that you wish you had received? 

Confidence is the most important quality of any outfit. Choose clothes/ outfits that help you feel confident.

About the interviewer:
Emily "Birdie" Busch is one of National Picnic's social content contributors. Living in Germantown, Philadelphia, she has been songwriting and recording independent music for a solid decade. She has created a constellation of connect-the-dots that has people listening to her music all over the world. Read Birdie's extended bio here.

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