Meet Llana Kila, The Visual Artist On Amber Rose’s Radar

Digital illustrator Llana Kila taps into the feminine psyche to take back the female body through her art.

At 23 years old, most artists can't say that Amber Rose is a fan of their work—Victoria Brown is an exception. Currently based in Maryland, she goes by the name of Llana Kila, which means "victorious" in Hawaiian. (She found it fitting because the word plays off of her first name, Victoria.) She has a Bachelor's degree in printmaking from Pennsylvania State University, and this weekend, her artwork will be displayed on the grounds at Amber Rose's Slut Walk in Los Angeles, California.

After showing up to the MTV VMAs in a dress covered in derogatory terms and starring in a Funny Or Die skit about taking back the walk of shame, Rose has made it clear that she is on a mission to empower women and fight sexual injustice, victim blaming, derogatory labeling, and gender inequality. Critics have questioned Rose's commitment to the cause, but her movement aims to create an inclusive space for marginalized groups—including women of color, transgender people and sex workers—that are survivors of oppression and violence.

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So where exactly does Brown fit into all this? Between her digital and still art, this visual artist expresses her belief that women are magical vessels that should be embraced by all. She channels this energy by portraying women in vibrant and colorful forms, as exemplified on her Instagram. Brown currently works as a freelancer for Atlantic Records and a graphic designer in D.C., where her older sister Nakeya Brown also lives. (Nakeya is a photographer known for her hair series' that went viral on Tumblr.) Prior to that, Victoria temporarily worked at Spotify and freelanced for other music artists. Someday, she hopes to start her own creative consulting team that works with musicians, film makers, fashion labels, commercial brands, etc.

Find out how Victoria Brown linked up with Amber Rose in the interview below, and check out her body of work here.

Sloooow x @wearejdavey #Llanakila #Art #Mood

A video posted by Lah-Nuh-Key-Luh (@llanakila) on

Let’s start with the basics. What is your background in art? How did you get started?

I started a lot of my artwork when I was in high school. That’s when I got serious. I was sketching all the time. I had hundreds of sketchbooks from ‘09, ‘08. Pages of characters and things I used to draw. As I got older, I transformed my artwork. It’s gone from sketchbooks with sharpies into digital art when I got my Bamboo Wacom Tablet. From digital art, I got into animation. I just actually did my first projection visual at a show out here in D.C. last weekend, and that was pretty fun.

How did you learn animation and video?

Self-taught. [laughs] I wanted it so bad. It’s kind of funny because I was in a beginner animation class, and I was in it for not even a week because I couldn’t understand the teacher. I was so upset ‘cause I was like “Man, how am I gonna learn animation?” And then I was like, “Wait, I have Google and the Internet. If this is what I want to do, I need to make it happen.” So I started using Photoshop trained animations and now I taught myself after effects. So now I use after effects and premiere… With the computer and learning things, it’s so step by step.

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What is your creative process? How does it all happen?

For my own work, I love for it to feel very organic. Sometimes I’ll start with sketching with just a pen and paper. From there, I’ll take it into Photoshop. I love vibrant colors, I feel like they really evoke sensation and give off certain energy. It’s really magical. For commission, I typically do research and sometimes I’ll sketch. Sketching is 50/50 with me, and then I got into Photoshop. It really helps me bring my work to the world I would say.

How did you get involved with Amber Rose’s Slut Walk?

I heard about it when she was first doing press about it and I was like, “That’s really awesome. Nobody’s doing that in the U.S.” And then I saw on her Instagram she said that she was taking submissions for her event company. So I was like “Oh, my art is perfect for this. It’s so perfect. I love Amber Rose.” I found out that I got into the semi-finalis, and then we had to wait a couple of days and then I found out that I was chosen as a finalist. So my art is a donation to the Amber Rose Slut Walk Foundation.

Why do you think the Slut Walk is important? What does being able to participate in it mean to you?

I think it’s really important. It’s a moment where women can really reclaim their power, their independence, their sexuality… These things have previously been defined for us through society. I feel like a lot of my work is made to empower women and to embrace sexuality, independence, emotions— just embrace you as a woman.

I think they go together perfectly, and I think Amber Rose’s Slut Walk is definitely going to be something that is paving history. It’s gonna change history, it’s gonna make people think, like those conservatives, like, “Huh? What? Are you serious?” It’s supposed to be 2016, baby. You gotta get with the times. Much respect goes out to her.

Could you tell me about the pieces that will be on display?

I have three pieces in there. One piece is about shedding your skin. It’s called shed your skin. there’s a new start with each sunrise. It is a nude woman, she has heart nipples, she has pubic hair, and it’s really beautiful. At the top I kind of created a language and it shows the title and symbols.

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The next piece is from my We Love What We Got series, which is a piece on the female body which I wrote a poem about. It talks about the magical powers of the female body, how some may see it with red eyes. Just saying how some men or people will see the female body as “Oh, it’s just a body,” but we really have a magical vessel.

The largest one is my favorite, it’s called Free Spirit and it’s a woman with an afro, she has her tongue out, and she’s embracing her sexuality. She’s looking beautiful, feeling beautiful, and it’s a very bold piece because her nipples are out and she has glitter on them. It’s kind of very girly, but it’s very bold in my opinion. They chose those three pieces.

Who or what inspires your work? Are there any specific artists that influence you?

Nakeya really inspires me with how hard she works. There are two female [contemporary] artists who I have been following recently— Kate Moross and Shantell Martin. They’re really inspiring to me right now, they’re just keeping me on my hustle, keeping my game going well. I’m also really inspired by reading books, West African spirituality, and everything in the universe.

Music is the most inspirational thing to me ever which is why I love to work with musicians. Music really helps bring out my creative flow. I can’t make work unless music is on. Usually I’m on SoundCloud listening to hip-hop, jazz music, trap music… Whatever mood I’m in. I really like beats and DJs and mixes.

Do you think you and your sister will ever collaborate on a project or exhibit?

Yeah. Remember when I was telling you how I was printing photos and then drawing on top? For the first one I’m sampling to see how I like this project, it's a photo that Nakeya took of a friend of ours in a portrait, and I’m gonna draw on top of that. We were thinking about collaborating in that way where she takes the photos, we choose the model, we choose the art direction, and then I’ll draw on top of them. But Keya, she’s more calm… You know, those pastels. [laughs] My stuff is like “I’m here!”

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If you could make album artwork for any artist, who would it be?

Rihanna! [laughs] Easy. Tell her to come find me. I love her. Everything she does is such an inspiration. She is so smart too, that’s why I really look up to her. She is a business woman. Because of her, I’m a business woman. I now have a business manager that helps me with my projects and it’s been so helpful. I’m like “I can’t do this alone.” This is why in the future I want to have a team. Teamwork is so important. That’s why I wish her well.

4everMuse~ #Llanakila #Art on @badgalriri #Rihanna Photography by Renata Raksha

A photo posted by Lah-Nuh-Key-Luh (@llanakila) on

Meet Llana Kila, The Visual Artist On Amber Rose’s Radar