So this is a bit of a belated post, things have been a bit insane around these parts – but here you go! I had the pleasure of illustrating the September 2012 issue of the Literary Review of Canada. Epic thanks to AD Alastair Cheng!
I’ll be posting non-print shots of these over the next few weeks, so you can get a better look!
The birdhouse was really fun to make, and it was a part of Portland Design Week, exhibited for a short time there.
The WeMake folks sent me some questions about my process – I’m posting them below!
Your work is so happy and full of character with a nostalgic appeal. Was there certain illustrators that have inspire you… or where do you find your inspiration?
Oh man, great question! I find most of my inspiration from reading about different spiritual and magical practices from around the globe. My own spiritual practice and reading about that of others will always be what fuels my work. My bookshelf always inspires me – mostly work by ecologists, religious scholars, anthropologists, and spiritual practitioners. I am really into the work of Pablo Amaringo, a Peruvian shaman who has a book out of ayahuasca paintings which is absolutely fantastic (the book is called Ayahuasca Visions). I also love Susan Seddon-Boulet, Georgia O’Keefe, Frida Kahlo, and David Blackwood. A trip to Montreal last year renewed my love of Inuit art, both sculptures and prints from Cape Dorset – but my favourite Inuit artist is Pitseolak Ashoona, she is brilliant! In terms of contemporary illustrators, I’m super into Meg Hunt, Kali Ciesemier, Eleanor Davis, and Olaf Hajek.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your background as an artist.
I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. I have been lucky enough to do a lot of gallery shows but my home right now is in the illustration world. There is something I really love about the challenge of creating personal work for corporate clients! I also just love making things. My latest infatuation is with mixing herbal teas, but I also make my own fruit and veggie preserves, herbal salves, hand-bound books, zines, screen prints, and relief prints. My preferred media is mixed media, with an emphasis on a ballpoint pen, coloured pencil, and ink.
The Put a Bird In It project is supporting music and the arts for Portland public schools. Do you have memories of making art as a child?
It’s all I ever did, and it really kept me grounded. I remember winning a massive state-wide art competition in Colorado when I was in second grade, and seeing my art on bookmarks all over the state and being given away for free at my favourite bookstores really blew my mind. It inspired me to see that my work could spread so quickly and be in the books of people I didn’t even know was such a crazy concept. I think it’s still a bit hard for me to grasp!
Please give us a little detail about your process and approach to the project so far. What have you enjoyed about it?
Structurally, I wanted to give a bit of a nod to modern architecture and have the structure resemble more of a miniature house, rather than what we might just associate with birdhouses (ie, the perch, the circular entry hole, etc).
Approaching this project was interesting because the medium (wood) was an impediment to using the materials with which I am most comfortable. I decided to take a very decorative and simple approach, which in this case was a pattern of flowers in three colours – pink, magenta, and teal. In a lot of my work I like to use common household materials (for instance, I prefer your average ballpoint pen to a fancy micron or sakura pen), and for the birdhouse I decided to play that up by using common house paint and sharpie markers. I have always questioned the idea that ‘art supplies’ have a specific definition or need to be bought from an art store! I remember buying photo emulsion as a kid to paint with, without having any idea what it was. That approach has never steered me wrong!
I haven’t blogged about this yet because I haven’t had the time to start working on it – but I will soon!
I’ve been selected to participate in Portland-based WeMake‘s new project to raise money for arts programs in Portland schools. It’s called Put A Bird In It, and you can click here to take a gander at some of the other talented folks who will be involved!
Tote bags make everything better.
Mostly: cute bird stickers, some instructions/ideas on how to make a birdhouse out of a bunch of blocks of wood, and a TON of tiny wood blocks. I’m having to resist carving them…! But my plan is to incorporate that urge into the final design. It’s going to be a surprise!
The birdhouses are going to be a part of Portland Design Week, and I believe they will be auctioned off in order to raise funds. Yay!
In order to prepare for making this thing, I’ve been doing research into whether or not birdhouses should actually be painted at all. Certain kinds of paints are toxic, and I really don’t want to endanger the lives of the birds who may live in my birdhouse. It is apparently also not the best to use of bright colours, because birds are attracted to a home which blends in with its surroundings (supposedly trees and bushes, etc). If I were to make a usable birdhouse, I doubt I’d paint it at all, so I’ll probably just send along explicit instructions that the bird house I make should not be put outside for the use of real, living birds. How terrible would it be to kill birds with art?
Zine Dream kicks off three days of festivities tonight! There’s an opening party tonight at Art Metropole, and tomorrow there will be a fun panel discussion and some workshops, and on Sunday there will be a bunch of badass exhibitors selling wares (including myself)! Check out the Zine Dream site for specifics on programming. Hope to see you there!
On Sunday the zine fair is at the Tranzac (in Toronto – nearest major intersection, Bathurst and Bloor) from noon until 5 pm. Happy zine-ing, yall!
Okay, we all know Lovecraft was a terrible racist, but the innovative and visionary worlds crafted in his stories have impacted and inspired generations of creative output by writers, artists, musicians, and occultists. I was lucky enough to have been asked to be a part of Trevor Henderson‘s HP Lovecraft illustration zine project, called Puffed Shogoths. Check it out!
If you haven’t read or listened to HP Lovecraft’s The Call of Cthulhu, do it now! My picture is of Henry Anthony Wilcox, a vital character in that story. Wilcox is a young artist tormented by dark dreams of monsters and gods and destruction, and it is his sculpture of Cthulhu that sets the story into motion. I’ve always been fascinated by dream landscapes, and the power of speaking with spirits and gods through dreams. There is a considerable interplay between Lovecraft’s work and old tales of the witches’ sabbath – (primarily) women whose spirits, in dreamtime, travel to places and speak with beings unknown to the common human eye. Historian Carlo Ginzburg in his Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath discusses this phenomena, and late occultist Andrew Chumbley’s work on sabbatic witchcraft takes the practice forward into contemporary use. Perhaps Lovecraft was inspired by tales of the sabbath, and maybe Ginzburg and Chumbley were, in turn, inspired by Mr Lovecraft.
Hey, a girl can dream!
I’ll post more information on Puffed Shogoths when I get it. The line-up is looking pretty fantastic, and I’m honoured to be among a roster of such talented folks!