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The Artist Series – volume I

This year, to celebrate International Women's Day, we have collaborated with three incredible female artists to create a series of limited edition prints celebrating self love, diversity, and inclusion. Every order throughout the month of March will receive one of these exclusive art prints, free with purchase!

While the creative contributions of women should be celebrated year-round, we wanted to take this opportunity to highlight a few incredible Canadian artists that we are especially inspired by. Each week throughout the month, we will be sharing a short interview to get to know these artists and their journeys. We hope this series inspires, educates and empowers you.

And now introducing the first artist in our series – Quinn Rockliff.

We just have to start off by saying we are so thrilled to be partnering with you on this project, Quinn! We fell in love with your art on instagram in 2020 and have been following along ever since! So tell us, what does your morning routine look like, if you have one? "I feel really lucky to be able to wake up in the morning and decide what I want to work on that day. I have the most energy and creative ideas when I wake up, so I typically try to emphasize creative free time in the morning, and prioritize commissions later in the day. My morning routine definitely isn’t anything structured! I try to be kind to myself and spend my time doing what feels right, otherwise my creativity can quickly turn into anxiety."

Your distinctive line work style is very unique and clean, but there is so much energy in every stroke. Was it your intention to approach such a complicated and sometimes messy subject of naked female bodies with a more minimal approach?

"I am really interested in how I can use abstraction to create space for contemplation. When representation is too close to reality it limits my ability to challenge expectations. I spent a lot of time scrutinizing small aspects of my body, in the mirror, through a camera lens – art opens up a bit of space for me to reframe how I see myself, to reclaim it."

Tell us about how you landed on the subject of the female form, and has this always been what you've done? What did your art look like in the early days?

"I started drawing nude self-portraits in response to a deep desire to see myself. At first, I didn’t really know why I was drawing my body again and again. Now, I can understand that it was a means of reclamation, a way to find beauty and strength, vulnerabilities and fear, in parts of myself I never felt allowed to see. For so long I perceived my body through the gaze of others.

I never was particularly artistic growing up, I didn’t study art until my MFA and I am self-taught. So in the early days there was a lot of exploration, playing with new materials, trying to find a style that felt good for me. Art was and is such a coping tool for me, when I felt angry about things I had been told or things that had been done to me, I put it on paper when I couldn’t find the words. The act of single line drawings was so repetitive and meditative for me, and it just stuck."

"For so long, I perceived my body through the gaze of others"

You are very open and candid on social media about your past and experiences, and the barriers you continue to face daily. Does this ever make you feel vulnerable, or does it feel empowering to address these topics and take control of the narrative? "I actually wrote my entire MFA thesis about this, I am fascinated by how social media can allow you to transfer your emotional labour into a virtual social space. As a young woman, I found that the fear of not being believed caused me to not talk about things face to face. Social media allowed me to share my experiences and thoughts without that self-doubt. One thing that always encourages me to keep sharing is that it is often the things that you are most scared to say that resonate with others. To not feel alone in a feeling is incredibly powerful, and I think that’s one of the reasons I chose to be so vulnerable online."

On your website, you mentioned that you create honest work – what does that mean to you? "Something at the root of my practice is thinking all of the ways in which we are told as women to shift ourselves to conform to an expectation. There are a lot of lies that permeate our perception of ourselves before we even have the chance to challenge them. I try to unpack those lies in my work, but it feels like a lifetime of work. I think of new ones almost every day, I'll find myself doing something, or feeling guilty for not, and try to think about the origin of that expectation, often the route is at a lie. You have to dress this way, you have to stay quiet, this happened to you because you did ___. "

What makes a great day for you? "I require a lot of down time, I struggle with chronic pain and mental illness, so when I don’t prioritize rest everything falls apart. I wish we were better at talking about that online. It feels like there’s a big emphasis on hustle culture, especially for small business owners and artists. But the reality is if I'm burnt out, I cant create. A great day would be one where I give myself permissions (without feeling guilty!!) to rest and do things that bring me joy along with time in the studio making something new. But it’s a delicate dance, and I feel lucky to even have the choice most days." And how do you wind down after a not so great day? "Hamilton antique mall, pho in bed, and currently, crocheting."

We'd like to thank Quinn for spending some time with us to answer these questions, and for being a part of our Women's Day artist series. If you'd like to discover more about Quinn, or her work, we've listed her socials below.

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