One of your recent works was creating the cover design for local rapper and performer Mitchmatic’s new album. Do you often support Edmonton artists with their own creative projects?
Working with musicians and local venues has been a real cornerstone in my practice. Gig posters in particular are among some of my favourite projects; Craig at Wunderbar has let me make dozens for him over the years for various shows, and I’m forever grateful. Posters give me a public platform and a low-stakes deadline that I can use to experiment with different imagery, compositions and techniques. Drawing a little bit every day and throwing in challenging variables for myself is so important for how I work out future ideas.
What are some of the most memorable times this has happened for you?
Some of my favourite drawings are still some of those Wunderbar posters. Especially the ones where I liked the poster I made and the show was even better. I have also done a handful of improvised, live-drawing sessions for a variety show hosted by comedian Jon Mick. I bring ink and pens to the bar and whip up drawings on the spot based on a topic that Jon picks. Generally the drawings are making fun of Jon. It’s weird for me because I’m not a performer but I enjoy it! I like thinking and drawing quick on my feet. Most of them turn out pretty alright, though some of the results of these shows are pretty awful!
How has the Edmonton artistic community influenced your own work?
Edmonton is home to a big batch of really talented artists and musicians. It’s a pretty tight, small-ish community, considering the population size of the city in general. The closeness of this community is interesting because it creates an environment where everyone is pretty open and supportive of one another. But it’s also competitive, since there are only so many real opportunities available in a city where arts is maybe not quite as important or revered as say, hockey. It’s a cocoon in a way. It also means you have to be very conscious of what other artists within the city are doing, and make sure that your work stands on its own.
It’s nice to feel like if you work hard and place value [on] your peers and connections, you can do great creative things within the city. Edmonton has a weird small town vibe for a relatively large city, which makes it feel as though you can tackle things that you might not feel you could in Vancouver or Toronto, for example. I’m impressed and inspired by start-up creative initiatives like Chelsea Boos’s Drawing Room space downtown, and Brittney Roy and Connor Buchanan’s Creative Practices Institute in the 124th street area. Also, running the printmaking program and working with clients at the Nina Haggerty Centre [an art centre for adults with developmental disabilities] on 118th avenue has been an excellent experience for me personally and artistically.
If you could collaborate with one artist right now, who would that be and why?
Josh Holinaty, local illustrator extraordinaire. We’ve been meaning to collaborate for a few years now. He’s moving to Toronto, but I think we’ll finally get a chance to doodle a bit together while I’m out there this fall for a residency I’m doing at Artscape Gibraltar Point.
Growing up, did you ever imagine that you would be a different type of artist? A singer or comedian maybe?
No, strangely, I never even wanted to be a marine biologist or doctor or dinosaur or whatever kids traditionally think they want to be when they grow up. Just ask my mom. I just [wanted] to draw things.
Where do you do you see yourself heading with your work five years from now?
I don’t like to think too far into the future with my work. I think making five or 10 year goals is a little dangerous because it often puts a specific idea of yourself up on a pedestal that you continually strive for — under the impression that if you don’t reach it, you’ve somehow failed. This mindset doesn’t allow for natural creativity or allow you to follow tributaries and branches from ideas and projects you work on in the present.
If I had a five year plan for myself five years ago, I might have been a successful illustrator living in some large city, but then again, maybe not. In the process of working towards that goal, I might not have followed the stream of ideas in directions other than exclusively illustrating for widespread publications, and likely never would have made the work I’ve made thus far. I probably wouldn’t have gone to the farm. Maybe I wouldn’t have been drawing comics. I certainly wouldn’t be making 1,800 square foot ink drawings.
I think it’s more interesting not to plan too closely and to let things happen and opportunities present themselves. Work and art gets stale and boring if you don’t let yourself mess around in hopes of accomplishing some pie-in-the-sky goals. The most important thing to remember is to just keep working. Relentlessly.