ESSENCE: A community creative escape

Arts criticism writer Sameeksha Sharma interviews Victor Lucio, a local entrepreneur and Vortex fashion brand creator, about the rewards and challenges of providing a creative escape for emerging artists.
Owner of Vortex, Victor Lucio, sits for a portrait in the corner of his store on 2609 S. College Avenue. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Owner of Vortex, Victor Lucio, sits for a portrait in the corner of his store on 2609 S. College Avenue. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)
Photo by Ishika Samant
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  • Luico prints test logos before making bulk merch for his customers.(Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • An embroidery machine prints logos for businesses. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • An embroidery machine labeled “Vortex” stood on a table in the studio. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Vortex’s back studio houses his screen printers, embroidery machines, racks of clothing and art made by local creatives. The space serves as a place for locals to come together and create.(Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Vortex pulls out clothing items that he and his team thrifted and upcycled. Vortex described his style as “functional, cyberpunk” making clothing that can be transformed into everyday wear. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • A stack of thrifted tops that creators up cycled held by Vortex. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Graffiti paints the walls of the store behing racks of clothing. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Luico walks through his photo booth at the back of his store that he uses for photoshoots, model walks and more.(Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • A fridge located in the breakroom which holds a collection of stickers and a quote “If you want to go fast go alone. If you want to go far go together!!”. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • A group of graffiti artists stopped by Vortex and painted the walls of the store with art in one night.(Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • Vortex puts on a necklace made for him by a local creator who stops by the store from time-to-time.(Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • A book stands on the custom rug made by people who walked into the shop.(Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

  • A glass piece held on the door of Luico’s store on 2609 S. College Avenue. (Ishika Samant/The Battalion)

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Art may not be the product of sudden bursts of creativity as it is often treated to be. It is tempting to defer producing art “til you’re struck by a large enough incentive or inspiration.” However, local entrepreneur and fashion brand creator Victor Lucio encourages artists to find their rhythm in art through consistency. 

“For a long time, I was just thinking about getting my art out there,” Lucio said. “At the end of the day, ideas are worth nothing … unless you do something about it. So my advice to anyone [who] is looking to do what they love and be creative is to not overthink.” 

Lucio, a 33-year-old Bryan local, decided to start his fashion brand Vortex a year ago after several years of contemplation. He transformed his art into apparel that could be worn by anyone with a collection including shirts, sweatshirts and everyday utility clothes. 

“I think my aim with Vortex is to make clothes that are conversation starters,” Lucio said. “That is my intention behind our motto, which is to ‘Exit the matrix and enter the vortex.’ Even now when you see someone wearing a cool shirt, you tell them about it, and it starts a conversation. Clothes have always been a way for people to express how they feel, even for introverts, and I think that is special.”

Vortex Studios is based near Midtown Park in Bryan, and Lucio is focused on providing local artists with a reliable safe haven that has growth and connection opportunities. Lucio often hosts Paint and Thrift events in his studio and even opens his resources up to local artists every Friday from 7-10 p.m. 

“I think being creative keeps you young,” Lucio said. “That is why I challenge myself and others to keep doing something creative every day. Inspiration is never going to come to you. Creativity is like working out a muscle. It needs to be trained to create something new every day. So I wake up and make myself create something new each day.”

His studio walls are a mosaic of uninhibited creativity, featuring the original art of several traveling artists who left behind artistic statements and mementos. He proudly displays a collectively-made abstract rug in the front mantle of his studio.

“This is a rug made by several local artists,” Lucio said. “It is a piece that will never be replicated again because … [this] set of artists will never create this very same piece that they created in the moment. So I think of it as a metaphysical object that embodies the contribution and energy of each artist.”

Lucio said it took him a long time to find the courage to put his art out into the world. Now that he has, he has no intention of slowing down. He plans on organizing more artist events like technical and commercial training workshops as well as fashion shows that spotlight the handiwork of various creators. 

“Right now, Vortex clothes are available in local vendor markets like First Friday,” Lucio said. “My short-term goal is to organize more fashion shows. My long-term goal is to become a mentor that guides artists in the right direction. I want to keep getting better at offering a safe space for artists and also … have more brand collaborations that give the Bryan community functional fashion.” 

Lucio expressed his gratitude for finding more like-minded artists in the Bryan-College Station area who continually push him to be better. He admitted that consistency is made easier by being around the right people.

“My struggle to be accepted as an artist will always be an important part of my story, but I don’t think that needs to be part of every young artist’s story,” Lucio said. “There is incredible talent in Bryan-College Station, which is why Vortex [Studios] is accelerating its efforts to fundraise donations for our art club. I always want artists to feel comfortable looking for support at Vortex Studios.”  

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