When did you become interested in art/illustration?
I was always interested in art way before I started school. Drawing and sketching were a huge part of my childhood. Ed Emberley books were a staple in my household. In Elementary school, I was asked to paint murals on the walls of my school. Breaking the rules never felt so fun. In High School, I decided in grade 10 that I wanted to go to art school and I did everything I could to prepare myself. My art teacher, Mr. Murphy, took me under his wing and helped me set up a portfolio. I applied to NSCAD University and got in!
How did you get your training – are you self-taught?
I consider myself both trained and self-taught. I attended NSCAD University in Halifax, Nova Scotia for 5 years. After I graduated, my education continued and still does. At some point as artists, we leave the sub-culture of school and make our way to another culture that involves clients, projects, research, promotion, paperwork and lots of coffee. It is good to have a firm foundation that art school provides. However, directing your own learning helps you build your career that you can continually add to.
What made you decide to pursue it as a career?
Honestly, I couldn’t see myself doing anything else. I was born with the makers mindset. When I initially attended NSCAD with the focus on design and photography. When I took a class that mixed narratives with image making, I was hooked. The idea of creating imagery for text really caught my attention. I loved the problem solving, the process and the concept that an image can be so much more really worked for me. Soon after, my design days were cut in half and I concentrated on illustration.
What was it like setting up your own business?
In the beginning, I combined working part-time and freelancing at home so it was a mix. After I had my first child, I made freelancing my focus. In the beginning, it was a juggle taking care of children and maintaining work time. Some days it was isolating and other days it was challenging. Working at certain times of the day became the norm because an 8 hour day does not always work when you are also taking care of children. As time went on, I developed new creative habits that helped balance my day. Now its is a 5-minute commute that starts with coffee paper and a pencil mixed with illustrating children’s books, writing, blogging and my kids of course.
Tell us about a recent project.
A recent big project was illustrating a book for Port Saint John called Port City Champ. I enjoyed the process of this project for many reasons: I got back in touch with this area after being away from NB for 22 years. Also, I got to explore challenging subject matter like machinery, boats, buildings and skylines. The character I created for the book was also made into a mascot. And lastly, all the proceeds for the book go to the Saint John Free Library.
What are some of the challenges of being a self-employed artist?
One of the challenges they do not teach you in art school is the concept of working at home. Finding and maintaining steady work is challenging. Balancing business with my art is a regular job. It can be isolating at times being that I work at home and live in that space too. The concept of doing it all yourself, although gratifying, can be tiring at times. Again, as an illustrator I want to create most of the time so paperwork, looking for jobs and dealing with clients are not always easy but is part of this career.
Where do you hope to be in 10 years?
My biggest goal in the next 10 years is to teach. I would love to teach art, illustration and creative business. I see more publishing in my future with a strong focus on children’s books.