Akvile Magicdust and Her Sunny, Dreamy World of Illustration

We talked to the Lithuanian artist about not taking yourself too seriously, getting on a skateboard and partaking in our upcoming Girls Are Awesome group show at The Growlery, San Francisco.

Girls Are Awesome is heading to San Francisco! We’ve partnered with creative live-in artist space The Growlery to organize a group show celebrating female artists from, in and beyond skateboarding. Supported by community-building skate initiative Skate Like a Girl, on November 10th and 11th, you can head over to The Growlery and see work by artists from the US, UK, Denmark, Lithuania, Australia and France. But before that, you can get to know the exhibiting artists here—one of whom is Lithuanian illustrator Akvile Magicdust.

Besides being a contributing illustrator at publications like VICE, designing skateboards and collabing with clothing brands, Akvile’s established a robust following on her own thanks to her naive, nostalgic and sunny approach to artwork. Whether she’s depicting women embodying the idea of mother nature or creating ironic statements about anxiety in a modern world, her work is easy on the eyes but pretty spot on for all matters of the heart. Currently based in Vilnius, we talked to Akvile about the skate scene back home, what made her get on a board and and taking the leap into illustration.

Photo by Rasa Juskeviciute

GIRLS ARE AWESOME: Hey, Akvile. Who are you and where are you from? And please tell us more about your awesome name.

Akvile Magicdust: I am based in and am from Vilnius, Lithuania. My real name is Akvilė Misevičiūtė but living abroad I understood that it’s impossible to pronounce and remember for foreigners. So I go by the pseudonym Magicdust; it does’t mean anything, but I guess it resembles my dreamy characters a bit.

What do you do for a living, how long have you been doing it, and what do you parents think of you being an illustrator/artist?

For the last five years I’ve been working as a freelance illustrator and comic artist. The first few years were a bit like a rollercoaster, but with patience and time everything started to flow well. I am happy that I didn’t quit drawing when the times were hard, because now I am grateful that everyday I can draw and get paid for what I do. My parents were really supportive when I decided to study at the Fine Arts Academy. I guess because both of them are creative and understanding people.

How and when did you get into skateboarding? Do you remember your first time riding a skateboard?

My first skateboard was DIY, made by my brother around 1996. All of my friends had rollerblades and I was trying to catch up with them on a skateboard. We were hanging out at the place with the best asphalt in the neighbourhood: a gas station. Later, when I was 13 or 14 years old, my best friend Rūta and I pulled all our money and bought a skateboard. It was a really crappy board from the supermarket. After one week, I quit skating because a boy that I liked laughed at us skating and I also twisted my ankle.

I lived in Barcelona for some time when I was twenty-something. My ex gave me a board because he had two. We used to cruise from time to time, but I started to skate consistently when I came back to Lithuania, maybe 3 years ago. It’s not a really big town and winters are really long and grey. Skateboarding keeps me happy and healthy here.

What’s the skate scene like in Lithuania? Are there lots of girls out skating as well?

It’s a really small scene. Everyone knows everyone. I don’t know why it’s not more popular; maybe it’s because we didn’t have any indoor skateparks until recently. I usually skate with the guys or on my own. I don’t know any girl in Vilnius who would go skating constantly. But Vilnius skater guys are supportive and cool.

What are you working on for the Girls Are Awesome skateboard show?

I did some acrylic paintings. Some resemble those awesome, yellow, summer days of true happiness—when you’re out all day, skating, eating ice cream, hanging out with your friends, doing stupid things carelessly and basically playing like you did in childhood. It’s a way to remember that the best thing is not to take yourself too seriously. Another series is about confronting your inner fears and physical pain. Skating is depicted like dancing with your inner panthers and tigers who are powerful, strong and roar loudly. It’s like witchcraft, el Hechizo, a spell repeated in your mind for skate tricks to work out.

Three tips for people taking a trip to Lithuania?

The seaside is pretty awesome. It’s a National park peninsula; there, you can see a lot of wild animals like deers, rare cormorants, birds and foxes. It’s a very special place—the dunes are huge and during starry nights, it looks like the moon’s landscape.
In Vilnius I’d recommend to take a walk, ride a bike or skate around the Neris riverside. Or maybe even rent a canoe and spend a few hours sailing across the city, from the Vilnele and Neris rivers, to see the old town from a completely different point of view.
If you like ghost stories you can go to the old cemetery in Uzupis, Bernardinu kapines. It’s a really creepy and beautiful place that has many old crypts and strange tombstones.
Or go to the Tourist Information office and grab the free comic book “Let’s go Vilnius” I drew for them.

Thanks, Akvile.