When did you first know you were an artist?
In the past I was uncomfortable with that title. I think it took until my third year of art school before I fully realized my passion was for the visual arts, and it was something I wanted to devote all my energy into. That was when I became an artist. Although looking back, I think I was considered an artist by others long before that, even in elementary school as the kid who was always drawing.
Did you go to art school? If so, what was the most valuable thing you learned?
I attended the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design University (NSCADU), graduating in 2006 with a Bachelor of Fine Arts, Minor in Drawing. Of all the valuable things that I learned during my time there, the most important thing was to constantly challenge myself with experimentation. Experimenting with ideas and mark-making became essential to my development and confidence.
How long did it take to prepare for your first exhibition?
My first exhibition was my solo Grad Exhibition at NSCADU. The exhibition consisted of four large abstract mixed media pieces that were created over a period of about a year. There were also several busy weeks leading up to opening night, involving printing and distributing invitations, preparing refreshments, and finalizing any details on my pieces.
Do you have a creative process?
Not specifically. Lately I’ve been working towards a representational body of work, so I’ve been obsessively collecting source images from wherever I can find them, to eventually compile, collage, and sketch out a composition. Sometimes a piece can be realized immediately, but lately I’m requiring a greater amount of time to develop pieces, which I think is a product of tackling more serious subject matter.
How would you describe your work?
My work varies from one series to another, so I have difficulty categorizing it. At art school I had a strong interest in texture and abstraction, influenced by the natural patterns of entropy. I’ve also done a lot of figurative works, from simple line drawings, to more complicated, layered mixed media pieces. Some of it could be described as illustration, while my mixed media pieces are more textured visually, with a broader variety of mark-making and are more at home in a fine arts setting/gallery.
What inspires you?
I’m inspired by everything and anything: nature, people, conversations, books, history, music, and other artists producing really engaging work. I absorb as much as I can, process it, and take what I need. Being around other artists, discussing art, discussing color, discussing ideas is something that makes me want to jump into my studio get busy. I also feel that art is a valuable tool for social change, and could and should be used to educate and inform an audience. That being said, I’ve recently been inspired by an exposure to a variety of social issues (consumerism, war, political accountability, and environmental issues), and am attempting to address them in a new body of work.
Who are your favorite artists?
Ed Pien, Kris Kuksi, John Copeland, Angela Grossman, Graeme Patterson, Eaun Uglow, Jenny Saville, Osvaldo Ramirez Castillo….there’s plenty of others too, it depends who I’m looking at or what’s going on in my life. I’m sometimes equally inspired by artists in other fields, authors, musicians, and film makers.
Do you have any artistic goals?
It would be wonderful to support myself through my art, but I’ve realized that the art community is very competitive, and unfortunately often commercially-driven and not very transparent. I will always be producing art, and know that there will always be an audience who truly appreciate what I’m trying to do. For now, that’s enough.
What advice would you give to aspiring artists trying to make it?
Be prolific. Go to art openings, go to artist talks, become involved, volunteer, do whatever it takes to participate in your local art community; you’d be surprised at the people you’ll meet, and the opportunities it’ll open.