VM. Congratulations on your successful start in the art world! Can you tell us about the journey that led you here?
II. I started drawing when I was very young. My parents allowed me to draw on everything: books, post-its, walls… nothing escaped my crayon! I started taking drawing classes at 14, where I was taught in a more traditional approach using large paper pads and an easel. This has given me a good foundation to build my personal style upon and served me well in school while I studied Illustration at Dawson College. I have since done a variety of projects as a self-employed artist, from logos to murals, and everything in between.
VM. Your work has a unique style. How do you incorporate your love for Halloween into your paintings?
II. I’ve loved Halloween since I was young. Every year, my friend and I would spend a lot of time and effort planning and decorating her house for trick-or-treaters. We would make paper maché cauldrons and elaborate cemetery displays in her front yard, complete with zombie hands and legs sticking out of the ground.
While my art doesn’t necessarily always revolve around typical Halloween imagery, I have incorporated the oddities and feeling of eeriness using a more surreal style.
VM. How has your recent success impacted your creative process and inspiration?
II. Much like other artists, I also worry about my art being “good enough” or liked by others. We of course have to cultivate our audience, but in the end people respond to authenticity. The work I’ve done recreating Nalini Malani’s mural at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts reminded me how important it is to do work that is inspiring to us. Malani’s work is much different than mine, but her art and process are nothing if not authentic, and it really reminded me to enjoy and trust the process of creating art.
I was also able to gain more immediate feedback while working in front of the public during Montreal’s Mural Fest. It is a street art festival where, among other activities, artists are commissioned to paint on large wooden boards on the pedestrian-only street. Initially, I had created a design where I tried to cater to what I thought people would want to see at such a festival: something colourful and a much simpler theme revolving around the city. However, I changed my design a few days before the event. Remembering the authenticity in Malani’s art, I simply felt like it didn’t reflect my personality and instead created something that was more in line with my vision as an artist.
VM. What are some of your favorite themes or subjects to paint that relate to Halloween?
II. I very much love the idea of magic and witches. It’s the feeling in the air during the fall season that is charged with the possibility that anything could happen. Even if my subject is still, I want there to be some kind of presence that isn’t explicitly stated. There is a power and control to the concept of magic, which lends itself well to the power and control an artist has over their art.
VM. Are there any specific artists or painters who have influenced your work?
II. I find myself drawn to artists from the Golden Age of Illustration. The first that come to mind is Harry Clarke. I discovered his drawings for an Edgar Allan Poe book titled “Tales of Mystery and Imagination” while researching a project for one of my classes at Dawson College. I immediately loved the texture and detail in his art, and it has since heavily influenced how I approach any ink drawing I do. I also love the beautiful curves in the illustrations of Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha, and I try to incorporate those kinds of shapes in many of my own work. If I had the opportunity, I would love to go back in time and take a look at his studio. It would be fascinating for me to see how he approaches illustrations that are so intricate.
VM. Could you describe a recent project or painting that you are particularly proud of?
II. I was commissioned, along with a friend, to recreate a mural designed by the artist Nalini Malani, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Unlike a lot of murals that are normally done with paint, this one was done using markers and charcoal. We spent two weeks working in front of the public at the museum, and had a multitude of interactions with many who had never seen a mural being created. This experience has been an absolute honour and I will cherish it for the rest of my life.
VM. How do you balance the spooky and playful aspects of Halloween in your art?
II. I find it important to stay away from obvious clichés. There are plenty of images of witches or zombies, so I ask myself what kind of story I want to tell. To me, Halloween is about the strange and unexpected, so I take inspiration from many sources and mix them in my personal cauldron to create something new yet still familiar.
VM. What can your fans and art enthusiasts expect from your upcoming projects, especially in the context of Halloween-themed works?
II. I’ve experimented with many styles in the past years, but some ways of working come more naturally. I love intricate linework done in ink, and while it’s true it takes more time than other drawings I’ve done, I believe the investment is worth it! The style really evokes the look of an old engraved illustration in a grimoire, and I can really immerse myself in the drawing during the time it takes to create it. I intend to follow the path of many of the Golden Age artists who have illustrated books, to soon illustrate my own.