Bianca Valle on the art of juggling
Tell me about your day job.
I just started working at Milk as full-time community manager. I run their social media, manage influencer lists, research talent, etc. I just graduated from NYU. I was actually just talking to my mom this morning, and I was telling her that I’m a woman now. I was like, “I’m gonna buy a Mansur Gavriel bag. I’m sorry but I have my own money now, and I’m going to travel to Berlin next month.”
How do you find the time for all your projects if you have a full time job?
It’s only been [a little while at Milk]. Before that, I was a student, so I did have the time to foster my talents. I kinda re-picked up this love for painting a while ago. When I was in high school, I painted a lot. Then I moved to NYC and there was no time because I was figuring out where north was. It sounds really cliche, but when everyone's out partying, I’m at home planning my next art project. I’m not a big goer-outer.
What about your paintings?
Last summer I made my first series of 23 paintings, called “Insides." I had an art show at 99 Bowery. Since then, I’ve been trying to change my palette. I’m trying to go for a more mature palette, since everyone is into this whole millennial pink thing, and I was too. I want to branch away from that now and have a more cezanne-esque palette.
Do you throw away your art if you fuck up in the process?
If I fuck up, I paint over it. I have trouble committing. I could never paint on an expensive canvas! Making art is very expensive for me. But when I’m feeling it, it’s like a treat. The passion and desire will overcome it. My urge is too strong! It’s so expensive being an artist. That’s why we’re called starving artists. I’m a working girl now, though!
What was NYU like? Were you living on campus?
Until my sophomore year. Moving away from school has also made me grow up. My roommates are older, closer to 30. My boyfriend is 30. Everyone I work or collaborate with is 26 or older. I’m always thrown into these environments where I have to woman up. I was gonna say man up. How bad is that? [laughs]. If we all went to University in the middle of america for example, there’s nothing to do. You stay on campus. It’s like elevated high school. But here in NYC, you got to start making life decisions as soon as you step out your door.
How old are you?
I’ll be 22 in April. I have all of NYC bamboozled! Everyone thinks I’m older because I do a lot and I’m focused. [Growing up], I was never a go-play-outside kid. I moved here for school and I knew that NYC was for me. It was between USC, Berkeley or NYU. I grew up in Coronado, a little man-made island [near San Diego, California] of 24,000 people.
Was social media a natural thing for you?
I came to NYC thinking that I was gonna become an art director for feature films. Then I got here and that wasn’t as easy as I thought. It takes so much work and passion. After being in school and seeing it wasn’t easy, I kinda picked up a love for photography and painting. I was also aways interning. I did internships at Nylon Magazine, Refinery29, and Milk Makeup, among others. During that time I realized that I was good at what I was interning in, and so I figured out how to mix all of that, and make a career out of it. Even though it’s such a fleeting thing, I’m hoping [social media] doesn’t die.
In what way? I don’t think it will die. There’s always the next thing in social media.
It’s always the hype. Facebook used to be the platform; now it’s Instagram. There is always gonna be something new, but that means my job will change. What I’m trying to say is that social media is not as sustainable as being a doctor or a teacher. You can be that for the rest of your life. But for now I’m enjoying social media. I’m transferring that to Milk Media and building this community where people don’t just see us as having a cool Instagram. It’s more than that. I involve my artistic eye.
What do you shoot with for your photography?
A lot of things. Right now, it’s an old film camera that my mom gave me. It’s a Nikon FG20. It’s really beautiful. I used to use it a lot when I was in high school. I’ve always been a digital girl though. I love using the 5D, but usually the company that I’m working for at that moment has another model or whatever, so I’m always changing lenses. I love a 50mm.
I was a bit against film. I was like, “film does all the work for you!” You just point and shoot and it does it for you. But then I noticed it’s an art form. The mystery is very exciting, although you have to wait longer and take more photos. It’s more of a thrill. With digital is more like a job—editing, etc.
You also model! Are you an influencer or just a model?
I don’t know what I am, that’s the thing! The reason I am where I am in regards to modeling…. I think it’s my long hair! [laughs].
I think it’s your whole aesthetic.
Thanks. I guess companies started leaning towards "real-looking" models. I’ve been doing campaigns. I did a campaign for an Australian brand with other real-looking models. They threw us up on their site. After that, I got reached out to more and more. I always say yes because I’m totally about this real person movement. It’s so refreshing. Before this little step the media was so damaging! All we saw were super thin blonde girls eating salads, and that’s not what real life is. It makes me really happy whenever I get the chance to be in front of a camera. I’m not that tall. People probably notice that I don’t have a symmetrical face, or that I’m brown, and I like that. It's getting there. Slowly.
Who's your inspo in terms of style?
Oh man. Truly there isn’t one person or thing, but I think living in NYC, you’re influenced by everything around you. We grew up in the digital age. We’re always on Tumblr etc. Magazines were the Instagram when I was younger, and that was my inspiration. Now, the digital is my inspiration, as well as my surroundings. I’m in this skater boy style [phase] now, and I have been for a while. When I was studying abroad in Paris, I would always hang out at this skate park, and I was influenced by the skaters' style. They would wear cool corduroys and vans. I bought my first pair of Vans in France, which is stupid because Vans are American and I paid so much more than I should have. But since then, I just kind of had this skater-boy-meets-an-old-refined-lady from the LES that wears thrifted things.
What about your hair?
To be honest, I don’t even know why it’s so long. Growing up I never thought about it. I would just let it grow. I would rather spend my money on food than a haircut. So towards the end of my senior year, I realized that was who I was. I love my hair. Someone told me that it's a Latin American thing. I don’t know. When I think about [my hair], I don’t think about anything—just that I haven’t cut my hair in a long time. It wasn’t a priority growing up to be pampered via haircut. I truly don’t care about my hair. I don't touch it. I don’t dye it. I truly don’t cut it! I always get my nails done. I do care about everything else like clothes, skin, etc., but not my mane.
Is it hard to maintain?
I don’t even think about it. I don’t use "special" anything. It does get really tangled when I sleep. I’m really into tucking my hair into turtlenecks and jackets. I don’t trim it. The last time was two summers ago. I let my hair go. I worry about other things. I don’t even feel it on my body. The only bad part is brushing it.
How much creative freedom do you have at Milk?
So much freedom! I press publish and no one is behind me checking if its okay. I’m the one doing all of the social media. It’s so exciting. It’s my visual gallery, so my vision is out there. We’re revamping our content and I’m gonna be doing some reviews and shooting all the photos. I’m gonna be able to create my own content and I’m always working towards that.
How big is your team?
There’s two other people I work with directly. As the community manager, I work with Milk’s editorial website, and they write about whatever's happening. I’m in this bridge between all the departments. [Milk] is a holder company where we have lots of things branching out—makeup, video, in-house casting, and studios. We’re basically a big creative building. It’s my job to harness all of that into one through social media.
A bit overwhelming, but it’s a day-by-day thing. First, I need to learn how to spell everyone's name! [Laughs]
Follow Bianca and her mane on Instagram.