Although I’ve been living in Toronto for over a year, this city’s talent never ceases to surprise and inspire me. I met visual artist Suprfi$cal last month at Tequila Bookworm over beer and good conversation and took a trek up to his home studio a couple of days later to talk about his thoughts on art, roots and motivation.
“I always worked through school so it was really hard to keep on top of everything. I learned a lot from that I guess, how to improvise. I remember I had this elective open drawing course that was almost like an excuse for me to make something. The professor would give us requirements and change them the week later to make our assignments easier but I would have already completed the original one. I don’t know if I was getting good grades because of my talent, I think it was more because I was a hard worker.” (laughs)
Did you draw a lot as a kid?
I used to be really into Dragonball Z so every night I watched an episode and I would draw characters from the episode and go to school the next day and compare my drawings with one or two other kids that would draw them as well. I remember one was always better than me (laughs). Mine always had weird looking muscles and stuff and I would write the names of the characters on them. It’s funny enough because I still write on on my paintings. It’s almost like my work is the same, it hasn’t changed in that sense.
Have you kept any of them?
I’m sure there’s some lying around somewhere. I’m notorious for throwing stuff out just because I don’t want stuff but it’s becoming harder now because I have to choose what I value, and what could actually be worth keeping.
Did you ever stop making art?
It’s always been continuous. There was a point where I was really enjoying it and a point where I wasn’t, where I wouldn’t say that I stopped entirely but I had stopped pushing myself. I wanted to be an animator originally and when I started skateboarding and exploring other things art was just something I’d do in my free time. I was always a creative kid; we would make skateboarding videos, I’d be sketching all the time… Imagining something and making that imagined “something” happen, you know? I guess it was when I turned eighteen that art became more relevant to me; it was then that I said: “OK, I’m just going to paint.”
What made you click?
It was during the summer. I remember getting back from the skatepark and deciding to buy canvas and brushes, saying to myself that when I got home I would paint for a bit, maybe watch a movie at the same time or something. So I did, and before I knew it, my room had become a studio.
When did you first start showing your work and collaborating with other artists?
I literally found a search for “non-artists” on Craigslist by a girl, Laura Dobson, who wanted to do an atypical show with people who weren’t artists. Honestly, all I was doing at the moment was random sketches on paper and my expectations were low but I sent it out and brought her a whole bunch of my work. Nothing was for sale, it was just for display. And then she hit me up again and then again… I don’t know, it was just one of those things. I was making art on my own time then but not in a motivating way, I wasn’t challenging myself. I needed a push to get me going and this was it. I started displaying my work in 2010 and after that everything just started moving fast; I got involved with Brockton Collective and began collaborating with friends as well. I started working everyday to improve and get my stuff out there.
Do you find it challenging to keep that persistency?
The way I see it is that with every solution, there’s a new problem. It’s constant experimentation and challenges and trying new things. I mean, nowadays you have access to everything “professionals” have access to. People are figuring out that they can do it on their own and that’s why we see so many amazing artists all over. It’s crazy, every single week I meet someone new, talented, inspiring and seeing all that just makes you want to push yourself to be better. I’m also a big believer that the world is not any better than it’s ever been. I think literally it’s just as bad if you go down to the core of it.
Why do you think that?
Freedom can’t exist without oppression. If all the freedom is in one place, there’s somewhere else on the other side of the world that doesn’t have access to it. Things change, things shifts, you know? You got a whole bunch of rights for a certain group of people and then a new group of people are excluded and vice versa. I think knowing this is what makes me optimistic. I feel that when you realize that no-one can truly access that freedom that’s when you realize you’re more in control of your life than anything. Suffering and oppression are good for creativity.
What do you like about being an artist in Toronto?
Although I paint, I see a bigger experience so I like collaborating with people who aren’t visual artists. I’ve been able to meet some of my favourite artists and see their work and understand how they made it. Sometimes I get caught up in my work so much I can’t look at it with a different eye so I like the conversations, I like the exchange. That’s why I skateboard, I guess… The community isn’t a competition. To have fun is pretty much the motto and I’ve been taking everything I’ve been learning and trying to find the fun side of it.
You’re also involved in Remix Project’s Business Incubator program. How has that been beneficial to you and your practice?
In so many ways. I’m an artist already so the whole business side is something I’ve had to warm up to and the program definitely gives you insight on how to convert yourself into a professional and what you should do to get your message across. It’s also a mix of people in the program; you have all types of creative entrepreneurs, not only artists. It’s accessible to everybody, you have people lecturing and mentoring you from all types of industries. It’s been an amazing way to understand where you’re going while being surrounded by people who have done what you’re doing. I’m happy to have met everyone and, of course, I’m still in progress but I’m learning every day.