Public eye: Veronica Lee, 27

New York street interviews: Stories from the sidewalk as told by real New Yorkers about their lives in the city that never sleeps.

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Veronica Lee

Veronica Lee Photograph: Zenith Richards


W 4th St at Jane St

Where are you from? I live on the Lower East Side. I moved from Queens, where I used to live till I got maced in the face.

Were you robbing someone? [Laughs] Right? Mace is usually used for self-defense, but someone used it as a weapon against me.

Yikes. Yeah. What’s so messed up is that I was screaming like crazy, and no one came outside to make sure I was okay. I was like, I can’t live in Queens anymore, so I moved to the LES and things are a little better.

How old are you? I just turned 27.

Did you celebrate? I did, but in a low-key way. Every birthday, I freak out and hide. I don’t like to make a big deal about getting older.

You’re already worried about getting older? I’m not saying I’m, like, 50 or something, but your roles and expectations start to change. On my birthday I wanted to be alone and let that sink in instead of celebrating it. That sounds so serious. It’s not that serious.

There’s something to be said for self-reflection. What are your goals for the year? Well, I mean, I’m not jaded or anything, but I take money much more seriously than I used to.

What do you do? I’m an artist—I do illustrations as well as kitschy home-decor installation artworks. The work is kind of childish, but also evokes a bit of darkness and terror.

Kind of like you? Probably. I mean, art is a stream of consciousness that you’re putting into your work.

So you’re becoming more fiscally conservative in your old age. Are you considering becoming a banker? Not a banker, but being Asian you have these certain roles you have to perform for your parents. My mom wasn’t happy when she found out I was going to major in fine arts in college. I’m thinking maybe I should go back to school and study medicine. Maybe to become a plastic surgeon? I have no idea. At the moment, I also work at Helmut Lang.

Is that what pays the bills? Yeah. I’ve always been in fashion. I love it, but i feel like I’ve been there and done that. Art is more substantive. It feeds my soul.

But not your mom? [Laughs] Right! Plastic surgery would feed my mom.

More from Veronica

“My goal is to become the next Cindy Sherman, if I can. You know, just a small goal. [Laughs]”

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