How did you get started doing what you do?
I have always been preoccupied with making things and have spent much of my free time learning and looking at all the different ways this can be done. Growing up, I was most interested in objects and images that had a strong narrative or a connection to the natural world. I don’t suppose this is so different from many people growing up, but once I graduated high school I decided to pursue a formal art education ensuring that making things would remain a central aspect of my life. After graduating from art school, I spent several years as a freelance illustrator before deciding to expand my career to include Architecture. In many ways, I see Architecture as an important part of my trajectory as a maker. I am fascinated by the expanding scope of work that now includes space, time, materiality, narrative, and the technical aspects of constructing at many different scales.
What does your typical day look like?
Right now I am a Master’s student in Architecture at the University of Toronto, so I spend most of my days working in my studio at school. At the moment, I am mostly involved in my school projects which are largely the design and representation of built space. I build lots of models and do lots of drawing and 3D modelling. I still occasionally work professionally as an illustrator and it is really exciting to incorporate the new skills I am learning as an Architect-in-training to my illustration work. My days are pretty long so once I decide I have had enough of the studio at school, I usually head home for a hot meal and keep working into the evening in my home studio space that I share with my partner, Josh Holinaty, who is also an illustrator.
How long does it typically take for you to finish a piece?
I find I will pretty much fill whatever time I am given to complete a piece of work. I feel time, and the compression and expansion of how you use it, is a really important part of project-driven work. Thinking and doing are given equal weight. I really like to establish a staggered pattern of short but intense periods of doing interspersed with drawn out periods of thinking. I will go back and forth between these two states as many times as the project timeline will allow. What I like about this way of working is that the work is able to take on a life of its own in a way and could be considered “done” at many different times but could also be permitted to grow and develop when the time allows. I also find this way of working allows me to develop approaches and techniques that are right for the work at hand and not simply repeated from past successes that may have worked in another situation.
How do you keep motivated?
I feel really lucky that I live in a time and place where I largely get to decide how I spend my time. Given that the juggling of school and illustration projects are keeping things moving at a pretty fast pace there isn’t too much of an option to not be motivated. That being said I do make an effort to try to keep a bit of balance between work and taking care of basics like sleeping, eating, etc. When I’m well rested and not “hangry” it’s a lot easier to stay motivated and excited about whatever it is I’m working on. Also, I think with the access of information we all have via the internet it is pretty overwhelming to be aware of all the things you don’t know. This state of being helps me stay motivated and curious.
What do you hope to accomplish with your work?
My main goal for my work is to do the work, which I feel gives meaning and structure to my daily life. Solving creative problems can bring some frustration when they are difficult ones (and they usually are), but mostly I find the process very exciting. This is the main thing that gets me out of bed in the morning closely followed by the prospect of breakfast and coffee which I also love.
If I had a positive experience making the work then the next thing is that I would like for people to see the product of it. Whether that is in a publication in the form of a printed illustration or something I post online, or in a gallery, is less important. I am happy if other people are delighted, amused or intrigued by it. A small piece of myself is put into everything I make so in many ways it is how I can engage with others in a way that is much different than if I were to meet them or talk to them.
What, if anything, would you tell your younger self?
Try to be patient with yourself. Don’t get so frustrated with perceived shortcomings in your work. The best thing about being an illustrator/architect/artist/designer is that you get to spend your whole life learning new things and your work will always be growing and changing with you. Don’t be in such a rush to get somewhere because somewhere isn’t a real place. Even if it were it probably wouldn’t be that exciting anyway.
What are your thoughts on art school?
For me, it was the right choice. I know a few people who don’t/didn’t need it so I think it’s a personal choice. You can still be an artist or designer without it. It was important to me to make the formal commitment to study because it provided me with the opportunity to say to society: “I’m serious about studying art and design so please let me have these few years to devote myself full time to that pursuit.” I think if I didn’t do that I would have had to spend a lot more time working at jobs that maybe were not as aligned with my goals and it would have been harder for me to develop my work. I also think I benefitted greatly being with other people every day who were trying to do the same thing. I feel like studio culture and the friendships I have developed there have been really important to my work as well.
Have any future aspirations that you’d like to share?
I am excited about the prospect of using programming to build my design tools. Right now I am intrigued and excited by things like processing, Arduino, and digital fabrication techniques. It is exciting to think about how these new tools and techniques will affect the way I tell stories, and make images and objects.
What art supplies do you use?
Some favourite items are my Wacom Intuous 3 (I have had this for ten years), a reasonably current Mac computer of some kind, a variety of notebooks on hand at all times (lined, plain, and graph), Uni-ball pens, the extra wide Copic black marker, black Prismacolor pencils, Winston Newton gouaches, Golden fluid acrylics, black photographers tape, Canson drawing vellum, Olfa craft knife, Arches hot press watercolour blocks, golden sable brushes.
What’s your process like?
I use a hybrid combination of traditional and digital art supplies and techniques. I basically keep all the standard stuff around like paint, markers, pencils, etc. and almost always start everything on paper. At some point, the drawings get digitised and maybe collaged together with found images or snapshots of 3D models. The end product almost always ends up digitized with the exception being the silkscreen work I have done. I typically work directly with the screen in those cases and use cut-paper, screen block and ink drawings drawn to scale to produce that work.