Duration: I’ve been working in editorial illustration since I graduated in 2015.
Location: Toronto, Canada.
Education: I graduated from OCAD University, in Toronto, Canada, in 2015 with a major in illustration and a minor in graphic design.
Career path: In my senior year of school, I was a bit naive about the idea of “capital I” illustration; I thought that a piece of art always needed to have a profound political or cultural message. Nowadays, I’m much more critical of composition and other nuts-and-bolts considerations. Hindsight is truly 20/20, and I’m grateful to be able to create images that are less contrived and esoteric. It’s also important to acknowledge that working in only one field, like freelance illustration, is not always realistic. A year after graduating, I got a position as a product designer and an illustrator in the user experience world. Having two jobs in tandem has given me enough perspective to reassess which subject matters genuinely reflect my personality in my work.
Artistic influences: Creating and consuming art is about personal escape. Because I grew up in the suburbs and had a rather conservative upbringing, the art I create is fueled by a hunger to aggressively find new ways to express my ideas. I’m also influenced by foreign films. I love fashion photography; we live in an era when cataloging the evolution of taste and mood is easier than ever. My personal through-line between these other art forms is my focus on facial expressions and humanistic desire.
Favorite project: A series of illustrations I made for the Globe and Mail this past year for reviews of fiction books. Projecting my own idea of a fictional character’s experiences onto the page was immensely satisfying.
Work environment: I live in a studio apartment, which can be difficult because I’m also a bit of a neat freak. Before I can make a desired “mess” on the canvas, I need to clean up any physical mess around me. I also regularly work at a dedicated coworking space in Toronto with other freelance creative who are all from different cultural backgrounds. Because I consider myself an extrovert, it’s pretty important for me to have this alternative space to get work done.
Approach: I’ve always been fascinated with the potential to lead a viewer’s eye through a piece from start to finish. By maximizing that sense of motion, I hope my lines can flow organically from one end of the canvas to the other.
Aspirations: I’d love to contribute to long-term projects that carry more shelf life, such as art for books or films. I also have a wish to create an illustrated cover for a film from the Criterion Collection, which distributes classic and contemporary films.
Philosophy: Practice patience and diligence by creating every day—even when outside validation is in short supply. We live in a time when it’s easy to see other people’s successes and feel a sense of inadequacy, but believing in the unseen hours you spend experimenting and sharpening your skill set can keep your head above water. Create your own luck, and never take your personal relationships with creative peers for granted.
Fun fact: As a child, I was fascinated by fossil excavation and dreamed of being a paleontologist. In the end, I figured it’d be too hot working in the blazing sun all day and picked up drawing instead. Looking back, I made the right choice.