QUESTIONS FOR CRAFTERS: Sarah Titanic (Studio Visit)
Interview by Jen Anisef
Studios Visit artists featured above: Sarah Mcneil, Ginette Lapalme, Melinda Josie, Marta Chudolinska, Shannon Gerard, Morgan Mavis
Recently when doing some idle crafty googling I came upon a column on NOW’s daily website called Studio Visit. Writer Sarah Titanic profiles different local artists, many emerging makers with a crafty bent to their work; a different Toronto artist is featured every Friday. It was a nice surprise to find that a number of artists that are active in the craft community were being given their due attention in our city’s major weekly.
I wanted to find out more about the concept of the column and Sarah’s approach, so I got in touch with her and she graciously satisfied my curiosity. (See links to some select Studio Visits at the end of the post).
Do you have a mandate or focus for your column? What motivates you to choose your interview subjects?
I would say the main focus for the column would be emerging Toronto artists. Also I constantly look at art, I spend so much time on-line researching and getting inspired. Before this column even started, I worked in an art supply downtown for many years. And I think that is where it all began. I spent my days being saturated with materials and talking to artists about their process. I met many interesting people working there, it made the job fun, plus my co-workers were so talented.
My motivation, to be honest, is kind of selfish. I usually ask artists that I admire and want to see the work in person. Also I am interested in what they have to say about themselves, and the art they make. Another part of it would be, pushing myself out of my comfort zone. I am really really shy. So for me to interview someone that I am really into makes me so nervous. Especially when you have never met the person before, I get butterflies in my stomach every time (I try to not let it show). I have realized that they are all such nice people, and so inviting. Every week I get excited about the new profile.
Do you actually get to visit the artists studios? If so, how do you find that gives you insight into their work? Who had the craziest/most fun studio?
Yes, that is my favourite part (even though I am shy/nervous). I love seeing where they work. It is never what I envision, it keeps things exciting every week. It makes such a difference talking to them, and getting to know little things about the pieces that they are working on. I find that the artists either have a studio separate from their living space, or make a room in their home a work space ( it’s about fifty-fifty). Each space is so different from the next, they all have such a great spaces, I like to see what they have around the space where they work, the little personal touches or inspirations to make it their own. I have a few faves that stand out. Melinda Josie, her work space was set up in her lovely home. It was so cozy and she had surrounded herself with adorable things that obviously had sentimental value and a Blythe doll! I had fun chatting with her while we had coffee and cookies. Another great one is Morgan Mavis, she runs the Contemporary Zoological Conservatory. It is Toronto’s only Taxidermy parlour, and it is her home! It is full of fantastic antiques and collectibles. She is such a great story teller, and makes you feel right at home.
A peruse through your personal blog shows that you are tuned into indie craft culture. Do you find the aesthetics of this subculture are at work for the artists in your column?
I would like to think so…Some are more apparent than others. Ginette Lapalme comes to mind, she has been embracing her arts & crafts roots. I am also a fan of her zines. Another is Sarah McNeil, she makes lovely drawings/art prints, as well as hand made brooches, some are made out of paper or hand-knitted with wool. A friend of mine Marta Chudolinska, makes lino cuts and prints them with an old fashioned printing press, she is also a bookbinder. I try to showcase a little of everything, mostly things that are just awesome!
Do you see any blurring in the lines between Toronto’s art & craft scenes?
I think more now than ever before. I feel like Toronto is really accepting of people who make art and craft. We are really lucky to live in place like Toronto where you can make a living on what you love to do. This is a great city, where people are really supportive of each other, rather than competitive. I feel like artists are doing a bit of both, and people are starting to appreciate the amount of time that goes into making crafts. I feel like the two are mingling together, and I like it.
Here are some of Sara’s Profile Picks for the discerning crafty reader (in her own words):
Sarah Mcneil She is such a sweetheart, and I fell in love her darling drawings and brooches.
Ginette Lapalme She is obsessed with cats! How can you not like her?! And she also makes zines!
Marta Chudolinska Is such a crafty lady, I focused on her lino cuts, prints and her bookbinding.
Shannon Gerard Crocheting with a twist. Everyone loves Shannon, she is the best!
Morgan Mavis I included this one, because I really enjoyed Morgan’s answers. Also I took all the photos and I liked how they turned out.