Contemporary painter and illustrator
Whimsy merges with melancholy to evoke the spectrum of conflicting emotions, as explored through Bee Queen’s artworks: dark-themed tableaux reflecting glimmers of love-light through a painted lens of hope.
Note: I conducted the majority of Bee Queen’s interview in 2015; but revisited the questions in 2017 to reflect Bee’s current artistic mentality.
Bee Queen: No Longer Waiting
Jane: Welcome, Bee. As you well know, I’m a longtime admirer of yours. Since our first meeting on Twitter in 2014, I’ve been drawn to the melancholic and somber mood your art evokes. What inspires your urge to depict dark emotions?
Bee: Some of my inspirations result from my personal experiences, and some are the result of reading so many books. Reading always opens new perspectives and makes me see things more clearly. I love to read about history, ideas, philosophy — love to see how the ideas fight each other. I read religious books and Nietzche at the same time…and really try to see all perspectives. I should admit I don’t read as much these days as I did before, because of concentrating more on drawing and painting. =)
Jane: Where do you get the confidence to post your work online?
Bee: As a self-taught illustrator/artist, I used to have very low confidence in my drawing and painting. I have always believed that love and the passion to create something is art. We don’t need rules or borders. Even though I thought this way, I never called myself as an artist, or an illustrator — never sold designs or paintings — “never want to sell”, since I’m doing it for my own pleasure (it’s a kind of mental masturbation for me). =)
Jane: By all means, keep masturbating. 😉
Bee: It is not a decision or a choice: I just want to draw, paint and share my work — I never think of trying to sell it or earning money. Drawing is like a need, a special need. I feel uncomfortable if I can’t find a time to draw in a day. So, I draw to feel happy, and then feel happier when people comment or share their good thoughts about them. In that respect, I’m not currently taking any action to sell them; but if someday, I earned money from art, I wouldn’t say no, because I’d be doing what I love most, and then people would pay for it? That would be really cool. =) Unfortunately, I need to work to survive; in an ideal world, I’d earn money from art, have more time, and more space, to pursue it. My dream: to show my work in an exhibition with other artists I admire.
Jane: You are a self-taught artist, but have you ever taken any formal courses?
Bee: Never took classes before, but here’s a funny story about how I met my mentor: I used to notice the apartment next door had curtains covering the window all the time, always closed. My imagination ran away from me and I imagined all kinds of dark ideas about what could be going on behind closed doors. One night, I was surprised to see the curtains open. I don’t know what compelled me to do this — either curiosity, the fact that I had been drinking, or both, but I decided to knock on the door of this mysterious house. A lady answered the door, very confused. I explained I was the next-door neighbor and wondered what the place looked like on the inside. “What are you doing in here?” I asked. She let me inside, and I noticed the owner of the house was giving a dinner party! All the guests stared at me, questioning my presence. I probably looked crazy.
Jane: Haha! I can imagine your unexpected presence was a shock.
Bee: Right? I was wearing glasses, no makeup, had had some alcohol; I probably looked like a crazy woman. 😊 Turns out, the place belonged to renowned Turkish artist Mustafa Horasan – the whole apartment was his studio!
He welcomed me warmly once I explained I was also an artist, and that I was searching for a rental studio to work on huge pieces. He asked me about my art education, and I replied that I had none. Maybe he wanted to be kind, so he said, “I love self-taught artists! Some of them have much more imagination than professionals.”
Jane: True that.
Bee: He kindly invited me to share my work with him, but I was too embarrassed. Showing my works for the first time to one of my favorite and, IMHO, most famous respectable artists, while he dined with 30 people? No way! I hid in my bedroom after that – thought I’d missed my chance to get his feedback – but then on his last day staying at his studio, he spotted me on my way out.
“Aren’t you the girl who broke into my studio?” he teased.
I gathered the courage, showed him my art, gave him my contact info, and then he offered to introduce me to Sabo, an artist he thought would make a good mentor.
Jane: I’m not surprised he remembered you, but wow! What a dream opportunity.
Bee: Yes! Having spent time with Sabo, I can say he really changed my artistic vision, and opened my mind to changing my technique.
Previously, I’d shied away from trying anything too technical, but Sabo explained that I had to first learn the formal styles to have a better insight and understanding of art, and then I could break the rules as I saw fit and incorporate what I’d learned from my studies into my evolving style. So, I painted in the style of the masters, with mixed results; nowadays, I don’t force myself to create every day. I give the process more thought; and work once I’ve properly reflected upon what I want to create. I had to end my mentorship with him because I moved away from İstanbul, and felt a bit wrecked because of divorce and other problems; but I really feel lucky to have learned from him and Horasan — especially Horasan — they are not only good artists, but also rare people who help and support all creative people and artists without being slaves their artistic egos.
Jane: The proverbial patron saints of starving artists! 😉
Who’s one of your favorite characters? Are you a fan of any public figures or celebrities?
Bee: I love Marilyn Manson and Snoopy. I love cruel characters and cute ones — that’s why I love Tim Burton so much. I love melancholy so much that I always draw/create some sad or lost girls.
I do love pen and colored pencil works. Nowadays, I’m mostly into different materials like wall paints and mixed media with everyday objects. Trying to figure out which material gives which feeling…and working on them without trying to create finished work, but attempting to catch the feeling, because I realize that although choice of color is vital, choice of material can also express very different emotions on canvas.
Jane: That makes sense. 🙂 Have you played with photography in the past?
Bee: If we’re talking about the creative process, I find photography and painting very similar, because both directly reflect the artist’s emotions and feelings. If you want to paint the same scene or subject from 100 artists, you will see 100 hundred different styles and emotions. A portrait can be scary or joyful or religious or erotic — it depends on which artist’s mind is reflected on the canvas.
I think the same holds true for photography. A photograph is not just a photograph. You can get in direct contact with the artist’s personal thoughts and emotions. Also, photography is really useful for painters and illustrators, because you can use photography for collecting references for your art.
For example, Ugur Gürel, one of my favorite young artists, succeeds in painting because of his imagination, and because of how he reflects those ideas through photography. He chooses people and costumes which complement his imagination. Then he shoots them for hours; days. After hundreds of shots, he chooses the best shot: “That’s it.” Then he starts to paint from that reference image. You can see the video of the process here:
So, I believe having knowledge of photography will improve your skills in painting, too. I’m into photography, totally as an amateur. For both drawing and photography, there are always scenes in my mind. Always. Ideas and visions appear, but I haven’t tried to do anything about them for years. Now I feel like a newborn. =)
Jane: Ugur Gürel’s style has a touch of theatricality — I enjoyed watching his vision come to life, so thank you for sharing that video. 🙂 Would you ever consider performing or recording the “making of” your art in the future?
Bee: I love to work alone. Don’t like to be watched — it was my main problem while studying with Sabo. Of course he wanted me to show him what I was learning, but I always felt stressed out when he would watch me paint. =) I like silence, except the music in my headphones. That’s why I prefer midnight as the time to start drawing or thinking; waiting for whole city to sleep than I can start creative progress. I can’t do anything if there is someone around, even if that person is silent.
The thing is, I’m a bit shy, but that’s not the only reason I don’t performing my art. Being alone triggers my visions. On the other hand, I appreciate the artists who can perform in front of a crowd. That’s a really hard thing to do. I really appreciate performing artists.
Jane: You’ve never been on stage before?
Bee: Actually…around 10 years ago, I played keyboards in a goth-rock band for 5 years. I played for recording sessions and in gigs; but as I said earlier, I generally don’t like to be in front of a crowd, so I used to eat 4-pack chocolates before the gigs, lol. I used to go stage with a full dark goth makeup hiding my face, maybe that’s why I felt a bit relaxed. And it is easier to be drummer or keyboardist, rather than a vocalist or guitarist. I generally stayed in the back.
Jane: Wow, you must have oodles of stories to tell about your band days. Let’s save those for our next conversation. 😉 When you’re painting, do you start with a specific idea? Like, “Oh, I’m going to paint this today!” Or does inspiration strike randomly?
Bee: Both. Sometimes I start to draw with a plan, but — lol — generally I found myself very, very far from the original idea. Sometimes I just draw for therapy. The strange thing is, the illustrations I draw or paint randomly, are generally more beloved than the planned, polished ones.
Jane: Can you tell me about a piece that started out one way, but became a whole new creation once you had completed it?
Bee: Yes, there are few. For example, Xumi and Frankie: those characters were supposed to be funny lovers. I imagined them as a couple, being silly together…but after their initial creation, the subsequent illustrations became silent and dark compositions. Now I don’t want to make these characters funny or silly. =)
Jane: Character concepts can be versatile — change keeps them fresh. 😉
Now, you had mentioned earlier how you love Marilyn Manson…I’m also a big fan! How long have you been into him? What’s the most inspiring aspect of his music?
Bee: I’ve liked Marilyn Manson for years; I’ve loved his music since the first album, Portrait of an American Family. With the album Antichrist Superstar, my love for him grew. =)
The thing about him, and the thing about all other my fave stuff (music, books, authors) are the same. I like the ones who can tell the truth without being cliché. I think Marilyn is was the most honest I’ve ever seen. He is telling the truth, points out wrong things, mostly two-faced religious ideas. His styling, makeup, and the attitude (which brings him haters as much as fans) makes me like him, because I find the message of a person and the way he/she expresses it, pretty important. If you can express it as Manson does, or Marquis de Sade did, I will clap for you twice. These artists are just like mirrors for the people who are acting. They are showing, like saying, “C’mon, you are acting — stop it and be yourself.”
And I love when people talk about Manson as a maniac or devil, it makes me proud of him more, because he is just a human being who is really talented in arts and music.
Jane: What similarities do you find between Marilyn Manson and Marquis de Sade?
Bee: De Sade was an aristocrat in France around the time of the French Revolution. During that period of history, if you were an aristocrat or rich, you were free to have sex with whomever you want, and you could rape, you could perform any good and bad sex acts without much fear of consequence. =) But if you were just a regular citizen, it was forbidden to have sex, even with your wife, except when you were trying to get her pregnant. On the other hand, while the aristocrats did very kinky things, they also murdered people just for fun, and the poor citizens never realized that. The aristocrats went to church, but they judged people. They were real devils, but acted like saints.
De Sade had courage enough to write about what he was living. Yes, he had a sinister nature (as we all have — he has a bit more maybe), and he wrote about it all. He wasn’t a genius — I think he was just someone who was depicting his experience, and the other aristocrats found it very dangerous because he was saying the real things about their life…and Manson is the same. We are all human, and we are far from being perfect as in nature. And he shows this to the world in a very sarcastic way. I dig it. I like Manson’s watercolor artworks too. He is a great artist. Mostly, he inspires me with his courage and honesty.
Jane: Share your favorite fanart you’ve made based on Marilyn Manson. Tell me why this piece is so special to you.
Bee: My fave is Heart-Shaped Glasses, because it portrays a scene from the music video of Manson’s song, “Heart-Shaped Glasses.” I find the story behind the song honest and interesting. Also, it references Lolita from Vladimir Nabokov’s novel Lolita.
I generally can’t stand the idea that love is made of pink sugars and hearts…love is always something like a bit sad, a bit mad and crazy, unexpected and dark. Suffering is more real than flying over the clouds. Love hurts, love should hurt…so I really enjoy the story behind the song — it symbolizes my thoughts of love.
Jane: Have you made fanart based on Marquis de Sade, too?
Bee: I haven’t made anything about de Sade yet – I have some ideas, but they need to evolve.
Jane: Do you ever find that the darkness in your mind consumes you? How often do you let the light inside?
Bee: I’m not a dark person in my ordinary life…but yes, I have a dark imagination. I prefer to read dark and weird — I love to watch those kinds of movies. Or prefer to paint in that style; but I’m not stuck in a dark room in my own life. The dark side of me generally shows itself through my creations.
On the other hand, I really like kids’ picture books and those kind of characters, because most of them represent great visions of creative ideas and worlds. So, I draw some cute characters, too. I think those represent the light parts inside my head.
Jane: Speaking of cute characters, can you tell me more about Xumi and Frankie? You mentioned before that you were first thinking of them as light-hearted lovers, but then you said you changed your mind. Are you planning to use them as characters for the children’s book you want to write?
Bee: Yes, I planned them in my mind as very fun couple, doing silly things together…while I was thinking about silly things they can do together, I sketched them very rough and in different styles…so I like the dark-colored Frankie better; then tried the same for Xumi, and it worked. Also, I feel closer to them after doing that.
Now they are still lovers, but they are lost. They are waiting, searching, travelling and searching for something, waiting for something — maybe a miracle. I don’t have a full story about them in mind. I think I’ll keep illustrating them in this manner for the time being.
Jane: If you could be a creature other than human, what would you be, and why?
Bee: It’s kitschy, but I would love to be a vampire or a blood elf. Especially like Anne Rice’s vampires. Both beautiful, and still carrying a bit of humanity. I don’t like new age vampires as we see in Twilight — I always prefer Nosferatu or Dracula to them — but best vampires are Rice’s, IMO. Rice’s vampires are sexy, cool, powerful, and carrying an ancient history. I would love to live in the Middle Ages and the 60’s. So, it would be a cool to be vampire who’s been living since the Middle Ages. =)
Another reason: I’m really obsessed with blood. I love the color of blood, love to see blood in movies, in art and photography — I’m not talking about the real blood of a real crime scene or a real war. So, if I know it’s fake, then blood is sexy. =) I think the same thing about the whole fantasy, sci-fi, and horror culture. The creepiest creatures are the politicians, and those real-life monsters are creepier than the fictional ones.
So sometimes I don’t understand why people find it gross or scary when they see gore in movies, or in any kind of art. Real life is gorier, if they watch the “honest” media, they can see lots of kids still dying because of wars, and babies starving…
The world is a cruel place, most of us refuse to see real things happening around us, to keep our hearts happy and relaxed; then some of us find it gross when we see a zombie?! I’m sorry, but I find that really funny. If real monsters could be as innocent as the fictional ones, the world would be a better place.
Jane: I’m in 100% agreement with all the points you made in your last answers, especially the ones about fake monsters versus real ones. Are you peeking inside my thoughts? 😉
Jane: I’ll take that as a ‘maybe.’
We’ve talked about your vision of love — now I want to look at the world through your eyes in another way. Please share a piece that represents the concept of “beauty” to you.
Bee: I have no idea if art is about creating something “beautiful.” Creating something ugly can be art. What if I want to create something ugly and people find it beautiful? Or vice versa? And how can we know what is ugly or beautiful…or what is beauty? Actually, I don’t chase the idea of beauty, nor am I trying to create beautiful characters. I’m mostly trying to reflect an emotion. If I can do that, I feel like I’m creating something beautiful. Usually, I’m into the story behind the character I create. So, when I turn back to your original question, I think beauty is the original natural emotion that an artist can reflect, and I think that kind of beauty can be only chased when people are alone.
Jane: When I interviewed you two years ago, a recurring theme in your work was the concept of waiting – are you still waiting?
Bee: Over time, I’ve stopped waiting. I’ve found I can love myself without feeling empty or waiting for another person to fill a missing piece. The mirror reflects we see ourselves in reflects our image in others, but we must love ourselves. We are all one, living in separate bodies, existing on Earth. Through yoga and meditation, I’m achieving an inner peace I’d never thought possible. I’m realizing everything is temporary, and that brings me great comfort.
Jane: What would be your advice to an artist struggling to find his or her “voice” (individual artistic style)? How do you expect your own style to evolve?
Bee: I am not good at giving advice, but I can say this: be original without trying to be original. Don’t think so much about skill — just focus the feeling. Art is just a creation of emotions that you can’t hold inside. So, I think if someone has a passion to spit out what’s inside her/him, it will work automatically. Even if no one likes your art, or understands it, you will feel you are doing the right thing. Most of the artists I know are generally in love with themselves, and can’t stand bad critiques…and you know what? Criticism is the point of a free mind. A free mind invents beautiful creations without expectations.
Jane: Bee, this conversation has enriched my life perspective — you’ve opened my mind in ways I am not properly equipped to express with mere words. Please accept my profound thanks for your time; and for sharing a piece of yourself with the world. Teşekkürler.
Final question: if reincarnation were possible, who or what would you be in your next life?
Bee: I’ve had dreams about flying with my own wings since I was a little girl. So, if I were born again, I think I would want to be a bird.
“Bee Queen: No Longer Waiting” © Jane Bled and Bee Queen 2014-2017
Bee Queen, born in 1982 in Ankara, Turkey, is a single mom working in finance. She loves music, goth culture, creativity, reading, yoga meditation…and art, of course. =) Recently, she moved to a small town to avoid big city life. She loves to be in nature and stay busy with all types of animals and pets to keep her company.
Connect with Bee
Endless gratitude for reading. 🙂 This project is close to both of our hearts; for my part, I’m overjoyed to have the opportunity to share it with you. I hope I’ve done Bee proud, as she is both a special friend, and an amazing artist.
In case you missed it, Bee and I collaborated in August on Art + Poetry: “Auction”. We welcome you to take a look.
Should you desire to read another artist spotlight interview, refer to this page. Feel free to reach out if you’re interested in sharing your art on my blog.
Looking forward to your comments. Until our next encounter…