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The Artist Series – volume II

We hope you had an empowering International Women's Day last week, and we're so glad you're here to continue this series. If you're new here – welcome! With Women's Day this month, we are dedicating March to celebrating the creative contributions of some incredible Canadian female artists. Remember that every order throughout the month of March will receive one of these exclusive art prints, free with purchase!

Last week, we caught up with Hamilton-based artist Quinn Rockliff. Catch up on volume I to read all about her artistic journey, self discovery, and how she winds down at the end of a long day.

We are so excited to welcome our next artist in this series, Rachel Joanis.

Rachel, thanks so much for chatting with us! We are so inspired by your work and everything you've achieved so far, so let's jump right in! How would you describe yourself, in 3 words? "I would describe myself as curious - I’m always eager to learn more about things that interest me, and acquire new skills (as there’s always more to learn in my line of work). I would also say, empathetic and creative."

An important aspect of your work is diversity and inclusion, which you beautifully portray in so many ways. Where do you draw inspiration for the women in your prints? Are they friends, strangers on the street, or just figments of your imagination?

"I think it’s really a mix - I draw inspiration for the women in my artwork from women I know, and from various pop culture influences; I would say mainly from films (most of them classic movies).

Specifically for “The Women” collection, I was inspired by the female role models in my life - my mother, grandmother, sister, cousins. That collection focuses on celebrating women and female friendships, and I wanted the figures in my artwork to have their confidence, and sense of self."

You've worked on so many different types of projects - from packaging designs, to clothing and accessories, to stickers, emojis, and of course art prints and cards. What's been your favourite so far? Is there a certain product or medium you've been dreaming of seeing your work on next?

"One commission that is really special to me, was illustrating FASHION Magazine’s S/S19 Trend Report. This project was a dream come true for me - I had studied Fashion in school, and since I was a child, fashion illustration was always my favourite type of drawing to do; I was so thrilled that they had reached out to me to create the spread. The editor that I was working with gave me a lot of creative freedom - I felt like I was able to push boundaries, and she really trusted me to express my creativity.

The tricky part was that the commission came right before I was traveling for the holidays, and to make sure I made my deadline, I was illustrating in every spare moment - in the airport, on various planes and trains, all through the duration of the trip. Even thought it was a lot to do in a short time, holding the magazine and seeing the artwork in print once the magazine was released, was such a proud moment for me.

I was later nominated for a National Magazine award in the category of illustration, which was one of my proudest moments. I was thrilled for the magazine, and proud that our work together was so well received.

A dream project of mine has long been to illustrate a New Yorker cover. Another dream has also been to illustrate a film cover for The Criterion Collection. I would spend hours as a child in Blockbuster and other video stores looking at movie covers, especially for classic films that used a lot of gorgeous artwork, they were so influential to me growing up - I would copy them in my sketchbook."

The pop-culture inspiration in some of your graphic artwork is beautifully executed. What inspired you to bring a form of realism to this collection vs others? "That hyper realistic style of graphic illustration was really one of the first styles I began experimenting with when I was in University. It was a natural progression - I had always taken art/painting classes growing up, and I was always trying to make whatever I was drawing look as realistic and close to the subject matter as possible. This continued when I began learning how to illustrate digitally, I wanted to capture every detail and make my artwork look as close to the real life object or person as possible.

The more I became comfortable illustrating on the computer, the more realistic and detailed my art became. Then after a while, I felt that I wanted to experiment more with my work, and move away from the naturalistic/life-like aesthetic I was so comfortable in, and learn to experiment with more playful styles of illustration. Illustrating in different styles has been an amazing way of pushing me out of my comfort zone, and help me grow more as an artist."

As fellow creatives, we know how easy it can be to get consumed by our work, especially when we love what we're working on. Has this ever been something you

struggle with and how do you maintain a healthy work/life balance?

"Yes absolutely, it’s honestly a constant struggle for me haha it hasn’t been easy for me to maintain a healthy work/life balance - it’s something I’m very much still working on. While it's still a struggle, I do think I’ve gotten better in recent years, making sure to prioritize taking time for myself and my partner, and being more organized with my time has made a big difference.

I’ve also gotten better at saying no to projects - which allows me time to focus on the projects I’m working on and have some leisure time to myself, but it’s is still difficult for me to do. My first instinct is to say yes to everything, and just figure out a way to make it work - pulling all nighters used to be a fairly regular occurrence in my early years of freelancing, to make sure that I cram everything in.

I think turning down commissions has been the biggest game changer for me - learning to say no to things, means that I can put my energy and focus into the current projects I have, and be able to stop at a reasonable time in the evening, and have time to spend with my partner and friends."

We are dreaming of a getaway to warmer weather - do you have any exciting travel plans coming up? Will you bring your sketchbook with you or do you prefer to leave your work at home?

"Dreaming of traveling has definitely gotten me through these lockdowns! My partner and I are planning a holiday in the summer to Paris and a few spots in Italy (Rome, Venice and Florence).

That’s a great question, I will do my absolute best to finish up anything I’m working on before we go away, and be able to leave my computer at home - and be fully present!

This makes me sad, but since moving towards digital art, I’ve really lost touch with regularly using a sketchbook. I do have a little lined notebook that I bring with me whenever I travel, which serves as a place for me to doodle or sketch when I feel inspired."

What does a self-care evening look like for you? "While I just talked about carving out more time for myself, I don’t often find that I have an evening to myself to just indulge - I mainly practice self-care in little pieces throughout the day. I think it mainly takes the form of having a hot water with lemon when I wake up, carving out time for a workout or a yoga session, planning out a special meal/cooking with my partner, going for a walk etc."

We'd like to thank Rachel for spending some time with us to answer these questions, and for being a part of The Artist Series. If you'd like to discover more about Rachel, or her work, we've listed her socials below.


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