Class of 2017: Toronto’s Exciting Up-and-Coming Female Artists with Laura-Lynn Petrick

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 who are busting their humps to make their dreams come true.

We’re chatting 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 Laura-Lynn Petrick.

SDTC: Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who are you and what do you do?

LP: I am a photographer, director, cinematographer and video editor. I often photograph natural landscapes, elements of Americana and Canadiana, and the lovely people I am surrounded by, and I document the evolution of many musicians I am close with. I also direct/shoot/produce/edit music videos for international record labels and make experimental films.

It can be tough to forge a career as an artist. What has stopped you from quitting and doing something more stable?

It is tough, but I can’t imagine doing anything else. I had a gut feeling from an early age that this is what I wanted to do. Even though challenges have certainly risen, I’ve been very persistent and tried my best to not be discouraged by anything or anyone. I just dive into my work and maintain a positive headspace, refraining from feelings of fear and doubt. As long as I can live off of what I do and enjoy it, I’m going to keep doing it.

Did you always know you wanted to be a photographer/filmmaker? What did you want to be when you were a teenager?

I’ve always been inspired by photography and films, since I was little and looking at magazines and romanticizing over old movies. As a young person, I wanted to be an engineer. When I was a teen, I had some other ideas of career paths; I almost went to school for retail management so I could own my own vintage clothing/antique store. Something about that intrigued me.

In the end I’m glad I strayed away from those ideas. I love the autonomy of working for myself and the freedom to choose my contracts.

What inspires your work?

I’m inspired by the old-fashioned times. I’m very nostalgic for the aesthetic and style of the fifties, sixties and seventies. I’m greatly inspired by nature and its overwhelming detail and intricacies, all the patterns and the array of colours. I swoon when I am in the wilderness; it’s a magical place to be. I’m also very much inspired by the magnetic beauty of my friends.

What moment in your career are you most proud of?

Being an image-maker is a constant climb; it’s an endless pursuit of accomplishments. At the moment I would say I’m most proud of my film Superior being selected for the AVIFF Film Festival in Cannes. The French truly make incredible cinema, and the fact that they have chosen my first proper short film to be exhibited at their festival is such an honour.

How do you deal with career setbacks?

I try to maintain the belief that there is no such thing. Everything happens for a reason. I carry on with my career and eliminate stress. I practice a pretty regular regime of self-care. I talk with my close friends who help guide me when my judgement is clouded. I also spend a lot of time alone, which I think is important. And I travel, to get out of my comfort zone and experience different realities.

What piece of career advice has stuck with you?

One thing I remember reading is a quote from Dennis Hopper, one of my inspirations: “Make something that will outlive you, but don’t worry if that doesn’t happen the first time you check the gate.” That means a lot to me, as that’s my ultimate ambition. I’d like to leave behind a body of work that speaks to people forever, whether it’s my films, music videos or photographs. I would like my work to have an eternal life.

What advice do you have for an aspiring photographer/filmmaker?

I would say learn your craft, in your style of learning. Pay attention to detail, always study the technical aspects of your medium, respect your subjects, capture ideas you believe in, work hard and stay true to yourself.

What do you hope to achieve in your career in 2017?

I would like to see my short films (Superior, Still River) exhibited more overseas, make hip hop music videos, get lost in the Canadian wilderness with my cameras, release my photobook and my film The Mother Road and create films in the Mediterranean, Mexico and Cuba.

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