Things got jumbled around this week so I lost my sense of time and day by the end of things. I had originally planned to dive into concepts behind my work for this post but I've decided I'd like a little bit more time with writing that one. For today I'll just run over some current things and further explain where you can follow my work and reach out to me!
Some announcements I'd like to get out there; my Commissions for Cause ends on Monday, my birthday! So far I have not received any orders, which is to be expected for the first time. I wonder to myself if the fault lies in how it was organized, how often it was updated, or if it was too late to do so (if people already donated to the Australian Relief efforts by the time the event started, that's no fault at all). I received some positive feedback mainly from paid ads, but I had some people in my personal friends list who were also interested in the idea. I will try again in the future, most likely with an issue closer to home.
There's still time to donate, so follow the link!: https://www.facebook.com/events/2197153080588836/
I have also launched a new design in my online shops!! “Lonely Hydra” is a vitreograph in the works but once getting the digital rendering done I went to town with colours and orientations. This is the biggest collection I have, which is fun!
You can find the design on my S6 and Redbubble shops, which are now accessible through the sidebar. >>>^
Now, onto social media talk. If you found my blog perchance, unrelated to my social media, that's fantastic! My website acts as a portfolio platform, a central hub for all my work and philosophies. You can see my best pieces under the Work tabs. Lately I've been retouching the site since starting the blog, investing in RSS widgets and refining buttons to make everything as smooth and connected as possible. I have some works I wish to get properly documented so expect some new faces soon. Websites require more dedication when it comes to updating so I usually save it for rainy days.
I try to update regularly on my Facebook and Instagram. They're automated for posts and stories, which I find very helpful. You can see anything I'm working on, including process, sketches, workspaces, and finished items. I also use it for announcements and documentations of events I'm attending as a guest or vendor. They are worth enabling notifications for, since we are in a time where we are constantly bombarded by information. My updates are usually drowned out and hard to come by, so enabling this feature on my pages will ensure you don't miss anything. You can do so on my profile on both platforms. These run under the handle @willowindstudios.
My other handless run under @spicyhoneyheart. I have a personal Instagram with that name but all art, including art done under Spicy Honey Heart, is posted on my business account, Willowind Studios (it's not as confusing as it seems). Spicy Honey Heart is my excuse to play digitally with my existing artwork, as well as illustrate things that don't always correlate with my artist statement. Glass and print are not always readily available to me and my studio space is always in the works. So Spicy Honey Heart keeps me busy and creative. All those times I was reprimanded for being too illustrative in school? Works out pretty fine here. I run some online shops with this name.
Society6 and Redbubble are print-on-demand online shops where I post all sorts of designs for purchase. Some of my more formal pieces get a photo-manipulated makeover for some designs, but I otherwise keep this branch very open. Most of what I sell here are based on my favourite things, such as books, video games, movies, glass culture, and general things I love about life. I have also claimed an account on Art of Where, which is a Canadian outlet. Their design system is quite interesting, and while I do have content on there I'm still working on making them more refined. Unlike Society6 and Redbubble, it allows print on both front and back of items, which is really exciting.
Tumblr will just mirror this blog. Entries are carried over and posted on the platform as a fishing line, if you will. I had originally thought to post the blog there and dedicate this space to the audio blogs but I thought I might as well utilize both. What's nice about the blog being on tumblr as well is the fact I can also reblog art, craft and concepts that connect with my own, so it's worth swinging by from time to time. Tumblr has changed through the years I've known it and I'm optimistic about its potential, if not a little nostalgic. You can navigate there using the sidebar and give it a follow if you like.
Pinterest is a great place for people to follow my boards for projects, process, and products! Very simple to use and I'm sure a lot of you have experience with it. Currently I’ll be working hard to organize my boards for a better reach of my products. This option is also available in the sidebar.
Finally, something I want to tell all my fellow artists and makers, I'm on Ello! I highly suggest you sign up for this platform. It's like Instagram, deviantArt and Tumblr combined, geared toward creators! They offer opportunity for jobs and collaborations, and they send call of submissions for awards! I haven't been on the platform long but wish to delve into the workings of it all. It seems to have great potential. I have not made a button for the sidebar with this one, so I'll make a quick note of it for my next update. Here is the link instead! www.ello.co/spicyhoneyheart
I think that's where I'll leave off today. The weather looks grim but I still intend to drive up to Oakville for the weekend. A early birthday gift to me! I will still be available so if you need anything, you are welcome to it.
I hope that you consider commissioning something while my charity page is still running!
I've been moving so quickly the past few weeks that finally my body said 'hold on a sec, we're going under maintenance'. So I've just been doing little tasks this week.
In bigger news though, I launched my first “Commissions for Cause” event on Facebook! This one is for raising money for the Relief Efforts in Australia. I've had many people reach out to me and say very touching things. It is a great idea. However, I know it's only been active a few days but I was hoping for participants by now. I wonder to myself, perhaps, if people already donated before and I'm just late with the proposition. Maybe having a fundraiser button for only one charity makes it easier. Or, maybe they're still unsure of what to commission. I'm hoping it's the third case! I will host more of these because I love the idea, so even if this one doesn't run successfully I won't be deterred from trying again.
If you love my work and want to donate, here is the event: https://www.facebook.com/events/2197153080588836/
Now then, last time I said that I would explain how I ended up where I am. Why an artist, why a printmaker, why a glassmaker?
My older brother was the one who encouraged me to draw. He himself was very creative, and he spent a lot of time in visual arts in highschool, but he dropped it in favour of the sciences and a more stable career. He's doing great but he has expressed he wished he stuck to it. But before all that, he and I would sit in the basement and draw dinosaurs. I went on to draw anything and everything, but most of the time I really loved drawing dragons. They had a little bit of everything; horns, teeth, legs, wings, scales, feathers, whatever you wanted. When we had the internet in the house (first computer we ever had was a Windows ME) I looooved looking at other people's drawings. I remember visiting and revisiting one artist's page. It was nothing flashy, just a continuous lists of texts and links showing her drawings over a span of decades. I remember feeling very motivated; “her earlier drawings are like mine, and now they're so good! There's hope for me!” So I kept at it, kept drawing, kept improving. It also inspired me to start drawing digitally, so I got my first pen tablet sometime in highschool. I would spend much of my time drawing fanart of my favourite tv shows and video games, and hey, that's still progress.
My parents chose to encourage my artistic career. The only condition they placed on me was that they chose which university I went to. They were paying for it anyway, so I was very grateful for that and agreed. In my final year of highschool, a few of my classmates and I went on an orientation trip to the John Labatt Visual Arts Center for a few workshops. I picked two workshops that greatly interested me: print and glass. Who knew that these two would be the precursor to my medium all those years ago? Print was evident, because that was what I was going to specialize in the next four years. Glass, however, was a funny, specific venture. The person that offered the workshop was a masters student who finished her time there before I entered my first year. I was disappointed, but it fell forgotten during my studies there.
My time at Western was... alright. I enjoyed my time but I mostly stuck around in the back of the crowd because my type of art wasn't exactly considered 'fine art'. It was considered “too representational”, “too illustrative”... at the end of it all there was some odd, negative connotation attached to those terms when anyone uttered them in group critique. I was stubborn, though. I strove to improve my skills and followed advice but I never strayed from my style or concepts. The failure to conform did get to me sometimes, since it impeded on potential awards and somewhat isolated me from my classmates, but I did find some good friends who I found things in common with.
I was happiest in printmaking. I was charmed by the labour and processes and loved the rush of surprise and satisfaction upon seeing the first printed edition of a project you were more-or-less working in the dark with. It was easy to get lost in, which was my style. Printmaking was also the lowest tier in fine art, for some reason. Maybe it's the idea of the edition, or the ability to apply digital elements to speed up the process, it's hard to say. I know a few classmates who were fantastic, visionary printmakers, yet I had to see them struggle justifying their choice of medium. Everyone has their reasons to make art, and while it can be questioned or its success speculated, whether it's easier to just paint it isn't a justifiable criticism to me.
Don't even get me started on what they'd say if you digitally-painted something. The computer doesn't do everything for you, guys. That's all I'm gonna say about that.
Upon graduating from Western, I wasn't sure at the time whether I'd be an independent artist, so I decided to continue my education. I applied to the Illustration program at Sheridan College in Oakville. I attended workshops and had colleagues suggest it to me. I remember stopping by the college to drop off my portfolio and application and I wandered to the AA Wing, where the printshop was. I remember looking at it wistfully, then getting intrigued by the glass studio just down the hall. It was empty at the time, and I had no idea that was where I was going to spend the next four years.
I got waitlisted by Illustration. I can't tell you exactly why, but I have a feeling that I wasn't cut out for it either based on my portfolio, which was a bit distressing. Neither fine art nor illustration had a place for me? Harsh.
I was accepted into my second choice, Craft and Design in Glassmaking, and the college suggested I attend it and wait for a spot to open in Illustration. It never did, but I am glad I took their advice.
Okay so, I chose glass because the medium has always appealed to me, but I never actually saw how it was made, let alone in a handcrafted way. When I was very young, anytime my dad took my brother and I to the mall, I insisted on window-watching a glass shop the likes of Svarowski; you know, with all the figurines in the window. I loved the reflections, the facets, the forms, everything. Fast-forward to the orientation field trip to Western I mentioned before. I got to actually see how an artist could morph glass into a shape. The masters student had a torch set up and various examples of their work on display: intricate little trees with jewel-like, colourful leaves. I remember when she let me try, I had such a handle for it that it surprised my classmates (I ended up getting self-conscious and fumbling it, but I still remember it fondly). Then, fast-forward AGAIN, I enter the Glass program. I was initially overwhelmed by the speed and heat of the hotshop, and I had thoughts that maybe this wasn't for me, but the longer I stayed to understand the processes, I started loving it for the same reasons I loved printmaking. And the people!! They were so genuine, so down-to-earth. And just so you know, the masters student from Western ended up being one of my instructors at Sheridan, too! Glass makes the world a lot smaller, a lot more comfortable.
I majored in kilnforming, where I specialized in lost-wax casting and enamel/silverstain painting. I also had the ability to minor in something, so to get my printing fix I enrolled in Surface Textile Printing. I was able to let loose and get real messy. In addition to my program, I was able to use the printshop in the Craft Wing in my spare time. I got to explore vitreography for the first time, a combination of glass- and print-processes. Score!!
And that's how I got here. I loved my post-secondary educational career, despite the gripes I have with schools acting more like banks than institutions. I still find myself torn between fine art, craft, and illustration, but I've come to accept that it's part of how I approach art. I love and feel all sorts of things, all at various levels of intensity, and the way that I express it will require a method that suits it. I'm content, and while I'm struggling to make things work, I'll keep at it. I'm stubborn, like I said.
Next time I think I'll go into what goes into my art and what concepts keep me thinking.
Have a great day!
I'm not going to pretend I came up with that but I mean to use the term more figuratively.
My website does a good enough job in telling you tidbits on myself. My education, my interests, my experience with various mediums. With a blog I want to go more into it, so I hope it's to your liking!
Here's a piece of trivia for you, before I get too deep into things:
The name I chose to represent myself and my work is Willowind Studios. 'Willow' is my favourite type of tree... graceful, solemn, and resilient. 'Wind' is the element I affiliate with, both powerful and soothing. The two together make a nice alliteration!
When I graduated from Sheridan College in May 2019, that was the end of my post-secondary career, which spanned the length of eight years. Almost of decade of solely focusing on my art, all thanks to the support of my family. It goes without saying that I'm now faced with dilemmas. What now? How will I make a living with what I've learned? Does a skill's worth strictly equate to how much sustainable income it can generate?
My work doesn't scream 'fine art', but a lot of thought and research back the concepts because that's simply how I think. I have a whole world I get lost in but have a hard time expressing it in words. I connect to the craftsperson more, there being a greater emphasis on skill, discipline, and attention to detail. In fine art, I am a printmaker, and in craft, I am a glassmaker, both highly intensive and complicated processes When it comes to establishing my place in the art world, I'm interested in applying the two practices together in harmony; a hybrid practice to match a hybrid artist.
That's when I'm focused on exhibiting work. Since graduation, aside from artist-in-residence and call-for-submission applications, the summer and fall of 2019 resulted with fruitless attempts and no feedback. So I decided, while I waited to hear back from the juries, to offer my illustrations on print-on-demand websites such as Society6, Redbubble, and Art of Where. These shops are under the domain of Spicy Honey Heart, a branch (heh!) of Willowind. The separation is a form of categorizing my channels of work, since themes are everything to a brand. Willowind offers thoughtful, precious items that address death and celebrate life. Spicy Honey Heart offers fun, colourful designs subject to my whimsy. 'Spicy honey' is memespeak for glass, in case you didn't know. And more alliteration!! I love it.
So you can imagine that my time is divided between the two realms, the two personas (fine art/craft versus graphic illustration), which is a fairly successful decision so far. And by successful, I mean I'm always working, always busy, always creative. If I can't work on one body of work for whatever reason (lack of facilities, inability to travel, etc.), I can work on the other. But Spicy Honey Heart is all passive income, with a portion of the expenses dedicated to manufacture and shipping. I need to start dedicating more time to Willowind, and to you.
For 2020, I see more focus, more pop-up shows, more audience engagement, more applications, and let's not forget more blog posts!! I had always hoped to make these in podcast form, but until I'm able to justify a proper microphone I think it'll just have to wait.
Next week I'd like to go into how I ended up in this weird niche of glass, print, and digital art. Until then!
P.S. I'm planning something very special for Monday. If you don't follow my Facebook page, please consider following it so you don't miss the launch. You can follow the social media icon on the sidebar!