I had the absolute pleasure of visiting the studio of Nancy King, First Nations (Potawatomi and Chippewa) artist and all-around-maker from Rama First Nation. Nancy's Anishinabee name is Ogimaakwebnes, which means Chief Lady Bird, and her practice weaves together contemporary painting techniques with traditional Indigenous craft materials to navigate the intricacy of identity, representation and intergenerational knowledge. We sat down and had a thought-provoking conversation about empowering our youth, the power of sisterhood and decolonizing through art, collaboration and healing.
Back-to-school studio invasion alert! Last month, I had the pleasure of sitting down with emerging illustrator, designer and art director Maria José Arias for coffee and conversation. Born and raised in Cali, Colombia, this spirited creative is currently living in Toronto and studying Advertising and Digital Media Studies at OCAD University. Amongst numerous plants, framed art prints and an teal vinyl record player, we chatted about: female objectification in mainstream media, the intersecting roles of art and advertising, and navigating the 'latina' label.
Kendra Yee's rainbow space tornado reveals itself in seconds as you climb the stairs leading into White House Studio Project in Kensington Market. Greeted by remnants of a full-wall mural from her latest solo exhibition "My Best Friend.......Felon", I turn left and end up face-to-face with an overload of baby monster ceramics and printer-size papers scribbled with marker, gel pens and every other art supply imaginable. We sit down with the Toronto-based freelance illustrator to chat about multiple realities, rollercoasting through styles and zine culture in the city.
A glimpse of Jamiyla Lowe's paintings is like stepping into a mythical world where quirky skeletal creatures dance in tropical caves and swing amongst tiger lilies without a care in the world. Born in Montréal, Jamiyla has developed an extensive portfolio overflowing with screenprinted bestiaries of magical beings, surreal circus acts and bizarre dreamscapes. I sat down with her to chat about freelancing, the freedom to experiment and challenging the gatekeepers of academic and commercial art.
Trudy Erin Elmore's screen-bejewelled studio is scattered with plants, flowers, books and assorted animal skulls. Raised in Kootenay Mountain Range in BC, the talented new media artist now finds herself based in Toronto and has had her work both exhibited nationally and published internationally. Our conversation extended for a couple of hours, beginning with a demonstration of the technical/creative process behind CINEMA 4D and weaving through contemplations on life, death and the intersections of spiritual transcendence and technological evolution. We chat about retiring the paintbrush, challenging binaries and freedom IRL.
Enter the multi-coloured, post-apocalyptic spacescaps of Toronto-based artist Christina Mazzulla. Influenced by the pressures and anxiety of rapid urbanization, Christina creates vivid layered paintings of barren land: an alternate universe of aerosol mountains and gradient suns. Not long ago, I payed her a studio visit and we had a stimulating conversation about urban art, collective evolution and coming to terms with one's ego.
I had the pleasure of invading Maria Qamar's (aka HateCopy) brand-new studio not long ago. As she unpacked her canvases, we were able to sift through her portfolio collection and chat about her creative drive and influences. Inspired by the parallels between Indian soap operas and classic American comic books, Maria has created a strong series of tongue-in-cheek paintings that playfully explore Desi pop culture through a contemporary lens. We discuss art parties, the glamourization of female artists and the representation of people of colour in the city's art scene.
We had the pleasure of invading the studio of Toronto-based artist Shanna Van Maurik to capture a glimpse of the chaotically organized space where she paints her vibrant, rainbow-embedded oil paintings of young women. A fusion of neon skulls, palm ferns and mirror selfies in varsity jackets, Shanna's portrait emulate an empowering "over it" attitude of stylish girls the artist discovers on the internet. We had an engaging conversation about selling art on social media, schmoozing the gallery world and talking with paint.
Not long ago, I had the pleasure of visiting the gorgeous studio of Toronto-based figurative painter Erin Armstrong to chat about her practice and experience navigating city art scenes around the world. Currently represented by Arusha Gallery in Edinburgh, Scotland and Otomys Gallery in Melbourne, Australia, Armstrong speaks of the varied responses her work has received and gives her thoughts on the conservatism of the Toronto art market. We had an engaging discussion about entrepreneurial independence, resisting 'gender-appropriate' content and a desire for intergenerational mentorship. Read more below
Not long ago, we stopped by the historic Coffin Factory Lofts to visit the studio of Toronto-based painter and sculptor Claire Scherzinger. The artist holds a BFA from OCAD University, has shown work across the province and was announced a finalist in the 2015 RBC Canadian Painting Competition at the end of last year. We had an inspiring conversation about the influences leading to her most recent body of work: from synesthetic approaches to painting, awakening personal mythologies and the universal language of art
Not long ago, I had the pleasure of invading the studio of visual artist, actress, filmmaker and writer Gilda Monreal (aka) Fiya Bruxa. Along with her sister and fellow street artist Shalak Attack and her partner Bruno Smoky, the three Latin Americans make up Essencia Art Collective: an international collective that believes in art as a tool for social change and community empowerment. Fiya's strong values and powerful voice is seamlessly reflected in all of the mediums she dances in and out of: whether it be ruthless critique of patriarchical systems or a ceremony of love and thanksgiving for Mother Earth. We touched on everything from the commodification of feminism to confronting misogynism and the power of public art.
One step in the door and Justin Broadbent's studio looks like an rainbow aerosol tornado just exploded onto a miscellaneous collection of found wood, cardboard lightning bolts, vintage cat paintings and bright neon tape. The award-winning Toronto-based artist, also known as Keith Dungeon dabbles in as many mediums as possible and has shot/filmed/art-directed/collaborated for the likes of Metric and the Art Gallery of Ontario, to name just two because the list is extensive (and his website hasn't been updated since 2009). We sat down with him and photographer SoTeeOh to discuss everything from creative thinking to embracing mistakes to putting memes in the MoMa and what 'Art' is in the first place.
A couple of weeks ago, I remember turning to leave the thesis studio at OCAD University and stopping clean in my tracks when I realized one of Mila Vukosavljevic's paintings was staring at me unsettlingly from the other side of the room. It felt as if I'd seen the girl before and not being able to grasp quite when or when, felt compelled to leave a note. Flash forward to the beginning of the year and Mila invited us back to her studio to chat about her inspiration, practice and last year in art school. Fascinated by the intersection of the subconscious and human psyche in figurative representation, Mila plays with invisibility to construct an unexpected hybrid between stranger and self. Read more below
Lido Pimienta is an inspirational magnet of a human being. A powerful force of independence, unyielding determination and creative energy, Lido radiates both admiration and intimidation towards anyone lucky enough to cross paths with her. Side note: Don't even try to mess with her, she will see right through your bullshit and most probably end up writing a song about it. At her studio, Lido shared the story of her life journey with us: from painting Barranquilla sunsets on childhood rooftops to ditching MTV and discovering her inner music to moving to Toronto as a single mother and never stopping creating. The multidisciplinary artist talks about her Colombian roots, stepping out of the mold and the importance of acknowledging and discontinuing a history of oppression of Indigenous culture in order to grow as a nation.
A little before last year came to an end, I stopped by Artscape - an old high school building repurposed by a non-profit arts & urban development organization - to visit Ruth Adler at one of their many artist spaces; where hundreds of drawings grace the crisp studio walls, reminiscent of rainbow-coloured crayon boxes, kindergarten art classes and Henri Matisse. We sat down over coffee and travelled through Toronto to Tel Aviv to New York and back, as Ruth discusses her evolution of process in relation to art, design and music. From playing the harmonica to trusting her memories, Ruth strives to break the boundaries of analytical mark-making and surprise herself every time. Read our full interview below!
Last week, talented photographer Sandy Pranjic and I had the pleasure of invading the studio of Erin Loree, Toronto-based figurative abstract artist and all around maker, shaker and rule breaker. Her visceral paintings have the ability to not only stop you in your tracks, but to lure you into a intuitive investigation of medium, colour and emotion. We sat down over tea and had a stirring conversation about the psychological game of painting: from abstraction, to trusting your subconscious and never staying stagnant.
I had the pleasure of stopping by Pio Centre for Drawing to pick the brain of director Coco (Riot) Guzmán: queer visual artist, comic-maker and all around rad character. Originally from Spain, Coco has lived in no less than four cities and was kind enough to sit down with me and chat about their practice, influences and thoughts on our art communities. We had a lively conversation in Spanglish about accessibility, translation, challenging the art hierarchies and bringing voices together.
Some time ago, I invaded the studio of Toronto-based painter and multidisciplinary artist Kathryn MacNaughton to chat about her process, practice and most recent body of collage work I'm Out Of Fucking Time recently opened at Huntclub. Vintage magazine hoarder and lover of abstraction, Kathryn is in constant exploration of natural composition, pushing the digital and analogue boundaries of mark-making and representation of the female body. We had a stirring conversation about channeling creativity, breaking down beauty and the pressure of "superstardom".
I finally had the chance to invade painter Jen Mann's studio with photographer Devon Little and had the most refreshing conversation while we shifted her canvases around the studio on the hunt for a good shot. Mann graduated from OCAD University in 2009 and now currently lives and works in Toronto. She's represented by a total of three galleries: Neubacher Shor Contemporary in Toronto, Walls.nl in Amsterdam and Rostad Edwards Gallery in Miami. We chatted about everything from surface versus substance, conservativeness in the Canadian art world and why artists are (sometimes) assholes
I had the pleasure of daytripping back to the studio of the rad Okay Collective in the Junction, this time to pick the brain of multidisciplinary artist Greg McCarthy. McCarthy works primarily in collage and photography, exploring issues of promotional advertising in the music industry, tourism in the Niagara region and most recently issues surrounding historic depictions of national identity in Canada. The artist constantly rummages through old archives and photo albums, on the hunt for parallelisms and stories once forgotten, but when brought to contemporary light, redefined and relevant. We chatted about his influences, bringing the past into the present and the role of nostalgia in his work.
Tabban Soleimani is an Iranian-Canadian illustrator and multidisciplinary artist working out of Toronto. I had the pleasure of finally invading her home studio (after various late nights of dancing and tipsy conversations at Cold Tea) to pick her brain on everything from overcoming trauma to not belonging and the over-glamourization of the term 'hustling'.
Born in Toronto, Sarah Letovsky has recently finished her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Drawing and Painting at OCAD University. Strongly influenced by a background in film and literature, Sarah's work is an interesting exploration of the female narrative, as the artist approaches portraiture through diverse techniques, juxtaposing a realistic human gaze with the materiality of the paint. I invaded her studio to pick her brain on abstraction, female narratives in the art world and the importance of art collectives. Read our conversation below.
Not long ago, I had the pleasure of paying a - much too early for a Sunday - visit to Toronto-based painter Chad Gauthier at his studio in the Junction. Gauthier is a member of OKAY Collective and recently had a series up at Project Gallery. His work explores ghostly themes of the mundane and is constantly experimenting with and challenging the defragmentation of figurative portraits. Between coffee and cigarettes, we discussed everything from his process and discipline to collective critique to his thoughts on Drake.
Born in India and raised in Toronto, painter and freelance clothing designer Babbu is the queen of tongue-in-cheek screenprinting, rainbow rickshaws and female empowerment. With influences ranging from Mughal era paintings to Bollywood, her pop art-esque fusion of traditional and contemporary Indian culture is refreshingly unique. Highly critical of the unrealistic standards set by mainstream Bollywood cinema, she creates works that comment on the glorification of sex, luxury and male superiority in India; bringing forth a strong female voice difficult to ignore. Read our conversation below:
Born in Seoul and raised in Toronto, multidisciplinary artist Dahae Song is a spirited pathfinder of the untravelled realm between the physical and the virtual, between analogue and digital art. Through exploration of self, environment and medium, Dahae offers insightful thoughts on her process, memory, identity and what she believes future art has in hold for us. Shot by visionary Othello Grey in her studio, Dahae invites us into her world:
Entering the studio of Toronto-based artist Carrie McIntyre feels like stepping into an antiquated Victorian living room that looks like it’s pretty much survived the colourful wrath of a vibrant paint tornado. Canvases cover every available inch of wall from floor to ceiling, making it difficult near impossible for me to focus on Carrie herself, sitting across from me and chatting away about her work, which speaks strongly to abstraction as a means of personal expression. We chatted for quite some time about emotions, sensitivity and painting as an essential form of creative release. Read below!
Not long ago, I found myself sitting on a rug across from painter Izaak Sacrebleu in his garage studio in the heart of Kensington Market – drinking black coffee, smoking a cigarette and reconsidering the relevance of photorealism and contemporary art galleries. Izaak, recently graduated from OCAD University with a BFA in Drawing & Painting, has exhibited in various spaces around the city and boasts an eclectic body of work with a recurring exploration of composition and re-composition through painting, collage and frame building. Since the time of our interview he has begun a new series entitled beige is the new gucci and has continued to experiment with found objects and tougher textures. Below, we chat about his work and his thoughts on the contemporary art scene, appropriation and historical paintings.
I had the pleasure of visiting Younger Than Beyonce Gallery (563 Dundas St E) to take in Scratching Where It’sItching:the gallery grand opening and group exhibition in exploration of the social conditions and discourses surrounding the practice of young emerging artists, curated by Geneviève Wallen. Among the eight participating artists is Curtia Wright, painter and recent OCAD University graduate. I remember stopping in my tracks in front of one of her pieces displayed earlier in February at the 3rd annual Afrofuturism exhibition during Black Future Month 3015 and am happy to have finally sat down with her to discuss technique, decomposition and the value of emerging artists.
I was blown away the first time I stumbled upon a painting by Sara Golish. Based in Toronto, the talented visual artist specializes in figurative drawing and painting with strong influences in Magic Realism and Afrofuturism and her depictions of women are nothing less than powerful. Sara, by gently applying seamless brushstrokes of oil paint and occasional gold leafing, is creating an epitome of feminine beauty and empowerment
Some time ago, I daytripped up to Whitby for an exclusive studio visit with the talented Chris Burns: artist, pyrographer and brain behind Champstiles Woodburning. With contagious enthusiasm, Chris gave me a fascinating tour of his seemingly infinite collection of artworks and commission pieces, ranging from decks to vintage-inspired chessboards to knot-eyed bong-smoking aliens. Intrigued by my first encounter with the craftsmanship of wood burning, I sat down for a stirring conversation about perseverance, artistic permanence and finding your own niche.