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The Art of Irie Wata

Updated: Apr 13, 2023

The Queen of dreams, Irie Wata gives advice on collage making, discusses her journey and the magic of the universe.

What are your theories on life after death?

I don’t think there’s any, well I might believe in partial reincarnation. I have so many things or places I am super passionate about, and I have no idea where it comes from. I’d like to think this is the result of a previous life.

Describe your artistic process

Most of the time I have something in mind I want to create, and I go on the search for copyright-free pictures to realize this. It’s often a dream I’ve had that I want to recreate or fantasy - something I wish existed in real life. It also happens a lot that when I’m searching for pictures, I come across other ideas and my piece becomes something totally different.

Are all of your collages digital?

Most of them, yes. A year ago I started exploring analog collages because I was asked to do a collage course for kids and we didn’t have any pics available. I really liked the way it felt more like a handicraft, but it also made me very aware of “mistakes” that you cannot undo. This made me respect analog collage artists even more. I plan to do some more analog work soon!

What are your thoughts on psychedelics?

Haven’t done them yet - looking at my art I don’t think I need them. But I’m reading some positive stories lately about experiences that aren’t scary at all, more like revelations, that I might try someday.

What are your favorite sources for collage materials?

I mostly use websites like Unsplash, Pixabay, and Pxhere. For vintage images, I use other search engines and always make sure to set the filters copyright-free. This is a big challenge in the collage world.

What are your happiest nostalgic memories?

I think that’s just going outside with friends to places you’ve never been before, and discovering forests (okay I think they were parks), lakes, and fields. Not worrying about homework or work or anything! I also loved the era in which I discovered the music listed above, started going out, and just being a teenager.

What are your thoughts on the Paranormal? Aliens? Cryptids?

Tough one - I do not have a strong idea about the existence of aliens, I just hope they exist! It would be super cool to have life in the cosmos that we don’t know about, and hopefully, they are smarter than us. Cryptids aren’t my thing, but I do believe in the magic of the universe. For example, I believe that energies can be felt and that the universe gives you some alignment to guide you. I can also be kind of superstitious about stories I’ve heard when I was younger!

What was your recurring nightmare, as a child?

I have had so many dreams about getting lost in places that I don’t know. This still amazes me today: how your mind can create things you’ve never seen before (or you think you’ve never seen before?). Other nightmares as a child I don’t remember, but I’m still having nightmares about not being able to graduate. This is also bs because I’ve never had any issues or delays with that!

What was the toughest time you've been through, and how did art help?

A few years ago I was stuck in routine: I’ve had the same job and house for years and felt like my love and social life weren’t really working out. This is actually when I started my art. It was some sort of primal instinct: since I was a little kid I loved creating things and I felt like I had to bring this back to make me passionate about something again. And it actually did!

How does Haarlem influence your art?

Haarlem has beautiful old architecture, so this is of big inspiration for my art. There’s also an area that has really small streets which I love, and they are full of plants. This is one thing the city and I have in common: I find it very important to appreciate nature.

I love to sit in a city cafe and let my mind wander off while looking outside.

What kind of music do you listen to?

I mostly listen to hip hop - in my teen years, I idolized rappers like Lil’ Wayne, T.I. and G-Unit. Now my all-time favorite is A$AP Rocky and still The Game, but I have some other artists that I love which are super different regarding genre. For example, I love listening to Creedence Clearwater Revival, Santigold or The Asteroids Galaxy Tour.

What were your favorite Saturday morning cartoons?

Hey Arnold! was definitely my number one! There’s a vibe in this cartoon that is so cool, and I loved how all these different kids interacted and just did what they wanted. Also loved the urban setting of the cartoon (is it weird to say this about a cartoon?). When I was small I never missed an episode of Barbapapa, and later on, South Park became my fav which still cracks me up.

What are your favorite movies?

It wouldn’t surprise you: Inception! But also the Star Wars Saga, and movies like Looper. I love movies that show reality but have a touch of surrealism, space, or time traveling. These are also movies that inspired a lot of my works.

What are the coolest things you’ve ever found in an Attic?

My dad keeps everything so finding nostalgic stuff now and then like pokemon cards, my post stamp collection or my stuffed animals is the best!

What's your advice for someone new making collage art?

Allow yourself to make mistakes and to evolve in your journey! In the beginning, I wasn’t feeling comfortable with all the random stuff I made, because I didn’t have my own artist signature yet. Only two years later I created my very own style, but I needed the journey to make this possible.

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