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this. is. ninjagrl.

By Jocelyn Geboy in Arts & Entertainment on Jun 22, 2007 9:39PM

She is simple, yet she speaks to a deep part of us. She has a wide ranging appeal: children, hipsters, moms, intellectuals, the mainstream, and those on the fringes of pop culture. The paintings and pixels and prints are full of whimsy and wit. She is sometimes simply cute, and other times heartbreaking in her adventures through life's trials and tribulations. She has a turtle named Turtle. She is ninjagrl.

2007_06wishninja.jpgninjagrl is a character and a real life person, who is an upcoming artist in Chicago ... or perhaps San Francisco. She's leaving town in a few days to find a new adventure with ninjagrl on the West Coast. Her final hurrah will be an art show/goodbye soiree -- listed on Crain's as one of "Ten Things to Do This Weekend."

She's participated in last year's Versionfest and has collaborated with various street artists (Stomach, Blutt) and was a part of the You Are Beautiful project outside of the Block 37 construction site. Our pals over at Gaper's Block made note of her in an article they did about street art last month. Chicagoist sat down with the real life ninjagrl to find out a little more about her before she leaves town.

Chicagoist: When did you begin your artistic endeavors?

ninjagrl: i've been drawing and coloring things since i can remember... horses and care bears were a favorite in the 80's...

C: Who/what is ninjagrl? Capital letters or no?

ng: the line between ninjagrl, the orange-dress-clad character with her trusty side-kick turtle, and ninjagrl (aka rebekah) with a cat named turtle is often too blurred to distinguish... i get them mixed up sometimes. it's been an evolution.

i don't like capital letters as much. they aren't as friendly. except L. it's like a leg and a foot.

More about ninjagrl and her creator after the jump ...

C: You graduated with a degree in architecture? Does that inform your work?

ng: it'll always be a part of me and my experience and can't help but influence the way i see the world. for me it's a lot about seeing... textures, materials, color and light. connections. space. all part of the everyday experience, whether in building construction, 3d visualization, walking down an alley or painting a ninja.

C: What inspires you?

ng: art-wise? feelings. life. the variety. sadness and joy. most of what i do comes from inside, from my experiences in the world around me. (and rusty, pokey, metal things.)

C: Do you hope to influence girls at all?

ng: it's not something i set out to do, but i am a big believer in people following their dreams and doing what makes them happy. even if you don't know what your dream is yet or where a path might take you. i really enjoyed going to school for architecture and the jobs that followed were great adventures, too. it wasn't planned, but it led me into the world of 3d architectural visualization and i really loved going to work everyday while doing that... and now i'm following a red-headed girl in an orange dress and who knows where that will take me...

C: Why are you leaving Chicago?

ng: it's time to explore somewhere new...
2007_06turtle.jpgC: How do you know when a piece is finished?

ng: i get tired. heh. i don't have a lot of patience so most times it's a one-shot deal. i don't usually work on anything for very long. maybe i should try that... it's just usually a feeling that strikes so i paint something about it and it would be hard to go back to work on it after the moment has passed.

C: You've worked and collaborated with various "street" artists and done various exhibits and shows in that vein... How has that come about?

ng: i started meeting people online a couple years ago. here in chicago and around the world. it's been amazing. the more people you meet the more you are introduced to and the more the collaboration opportunities arise. it's a great scene... people just really wanting to get together and make things.

C: How do *you* define "street art" vs. "graffiti?"

ng: i so don't have the time to even attempt to get into that one!

C: Talk about "found" art.

ng: there are a lot of people who like the idea of making art and leaving it somewhere for someone to find. it *may* be similar to say, why someone might draw something on a sidewalk or wall, but it isn't permanent and doesn't do any damage. the finder could also take it home. there is a group, "free art friday", that started in the UK and has showcased a lot of work on flickr... people do it for different reasons... some people want to do art for art's sake without muddying it up with gallery talk and financial concerns... for me it is exciting to think about what happens to the piece, wondering if it gets thrown out or someone saves it and gives it a home... it's also a lot about pieces becoming less precious, for me, and about letting go...

C: You participated in "You Are Beautiful" downtown. How did that come about? What does that project mean to you?

ng: i think my involvement in version>06 in chicago led to my getting an invitation to participate. it's an amazing group with a wonderful message, and the variety of artists and pieces in this particular installation was really impressive. i was honored to be a part of it.

C: What artists do you admire?

ng: off the top of my head? :) egon schiele, yoshitomo nara and parskid.

C: What will you miss most about Chicago?

ng: my friends. my neighborhood thai restaurant. and my secret sitting rock.

C: Where is ninjagrl from? Does she have a general basic environment? Or is she everywhere?

ng: well... she's from the midwest. milwaukee, minneapolis, chicago... (i didn't make her up, you know.) we share experiences and she seems to only know what i know... except for that one brief stint on a pirate ship which i'm still trying to figure out...

2007_06ninja1.jpgC: You also have several works based around or that incorporate interesting animals -- capybara, narwhals, birds ... How do you choose which ones you will paint?

ng: sometimes turtle clues me in to new animals. they are all so fascinating.

Chicagoist Local Snapshot:

Favorite "tourist" spot in Chicago:

Most underrated thing about Chicago:
the alleys.

Your favorite place to eat in Chicago:
The Chicago Diner.

You can see more of ninjagrl's work at her goodbye art show on Saturday at 7 p.m. at 4951 N. Oakley. You can call 312.523.3121 with any questions.

Make a wish, There, and Phantom hidden all by ninjagrl.