Toronto is a magnet for aspiring young artists hoping to make it in the big smoke. Most days it feels like the 6ix is positively bursting at the seams with young artists, designers, filmmakers, actors and comedians busting their humps to make their dreams come true. She Does The City chatted with some of the most exciting and talented up-and-coming artists living and working in Toronto to find out what inspires them, how they deal with setbacks and what stops them from jacking it all in and getting a normal job.
For this installment, we caught up with Jennifer LaFlamme.
SDTC: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?
JL: Right now, I am a student finishing up my degree in fashion design at Ryerson. Besides school, I do a lot of freelancing in textiles, illustration and photography. I run my own textile/apparel brand called Mifi Mifi in Toronto.
It can be tough to forge a career as an artist and designer. What has stopped you from quitting and doing something more stable?
I love working with my hands, I get so much satisfaction in making. There is still so much for me to learn in this field and I believe that everything relates in the end. I am just trying to build up all my skills right now! Also I don’t think finding something “stable” would suit me or my personality so much. Most of my work is very intuitive, fast and messy.
Did you always know you wanted to be an artist and designer? What did you want to be when you were a teenager?
No, I never thought I would be an artist/designer. I always imagined myself going into nutrition, but I think that was my high school influencing me. It was not until I went to study fine arts in Paris that I thought about pursuing art and design.
I am not surprised though, as I grew up with a father who was a woodworker. He was always making us do small projects and teaching us how to use tools at such a young age.
What inspires your work?
My cultural background (Korean-Canadian-Japanese) inspires most of my work. I guess in a way I am trying to find answers to my mixed identity through my illustrations and textiles. Most of my recent work is inspired by the Japanese landscape. I love the free motion, void and devotion that is present in most Japanese art. I also love weird folklore stories, awkward colours and simple line work.
What moment in your career are you most proud of?
I think I am most proud of the time when I taught a silk painting class. I couldn’t believe that people were signing up for a class I was teaching. The class ended up being full and everyone was so happy with what they made!
How do you deal with career setbacks?
Get sad, whine to my friends and then get back to work.
What piece of career advice has stuck with you?
I don’t really have any good career advice, but I’ve been given really good advice on love and heartbreaks. “Sometimes you just need to walk away. You are in fact helping the other by walking away.”
What advice do you have for an aspiring artist and designer?
Work, work, work and don’t look at Instagram for inspiration.
What do you hope to achieve in your career in 2017?
I hope to collaborate with different artists. It’s one of my favourite things to do as a designer. It brings out a whole new side of you and it helps so much seeing how others work.