How Meghan Kraft Is Raising The Stakes Through Art

Meghan Kraft is a Toronto-based creative director, brand strategist and content producer. Her creative career began with a background in performing arts and later exploded after launching her first clothing brand, Illbury + Goose, in 2012. Currently she is the Creative Producer of Weedbox, a fast-growing cannabis brand. This year, she’s the Art Director for the Greenwood Stakes, coming to Woodbine Racetrack on May 25. Kraft has curated a pop-up art gallery at this year’s event, featuring chalk artist Elise Goodhoofd, pop artist Liz Babkin, and a special stylish photobooth from Her Majesty‚Äôs Pleasure.

We chatted with her this week. 

SDTC: Did you always have a creative bent? 

MK: I’ve always had a very split brain. Very creative, yet very analytical and academic-minded. I grew up with a background in stage theatre and fashion but completed a B.Sc. in Human and Animal Behaviour at Western University, so it’s a pretty clean split down the middle. I really think having this unique perspective has given me an edge as a Creative Director and Brand Strategist, as I am constantly thinking from a biological and psychological perspective about how a given community will engage with a specific product, brand or campaign, and how these communities will interpret and remember each experience.

Growing up I was always encouraged by my family to be creative and travel often. I’ve lived in India and have been travelling the world since the age of four, oftentimes alone. For me, the constant movement and immersion in different cultures has always inspired my work and how I see the world.

My creative career really took off with the launch of my first brand, Illbury and Goose, and has become more refined as I’ve specialized in content direction and brand strategy. Currently I am the Creative Producer of Weedbox.io, a Canadian-based cannabis brand. Stay tuned for the launch of our retail brand this summer called Somewhere Variety. 

What were the specific challenges to Art Direction for the Greenwood Stakes? 

I really tried to step outside my comfort zone when choosing artists for Greenwood Stakes this year. It’s easy to get caught up in a specific scene and focus on artists you know or feel comfortable with, but putting in the research and finding artists with different mediums, from different communities in the city, has been really eye-opening. I love hearing about their processes and working with them to problem solve and bring their highly impactful installations to life!

What did you love about working on this?

I absolutely love working on this project specifically, because art is what keeps cities alive. It’s what pushes us to grow and change our perception of the world as a community. Being able to help showcase some of Toronto’s most unique artists in a way that allows them to have such a unique and engaging exposure opportunity is very cool.

I cannot wait to show everyone what we have been working on. Be sure to have your camera ready on race day.

Walk us through a typical day in your life, from getting up until going to bed.

Haha, this is a tough one. I travel A LOT. I’ll be on the road about half of 2019, which truly is a dream come true for me. From Toronto to Bali and Vancouver to California, my location is constantly changing…and so is my time zone.

Given the lack of consistency in my schedule, I generally try to start my mornings between 6 and 7 a.m. with emails, Instagram and a coffee. Putting in a few solid hours of work in the morning allows me to get out and explore the locations I am in and be more present during my day.

My days can range from back-to-back creative meetings, video shoots, or working solo from the best coffee shops I can find around the globe. For me, my goal is always to immerse myself in local culture as much as possible while still getting my work done, which often means my phone is in hand and my AirPods are in while I am roaming a city.

Throughout my week I try and fit in as much walking, yoga and meditation as I can to keep my creativity in check. It’s not always possible for me to keep a solid routine, so I just try and eat healthy and incorporate as much physical activity and mindfulness practices in my life to keep me sane. That, and a lot of phone calls to friends so I don’t get lonely while I travel.

By the end of the day (if I’m not still working), I usually spend some time catching up with friends in my current location, checking out new restaurants and views, or taking some much-needed time to myself before checking my emails one more time before bed!

Best career advice you’ve received?

The best career advice that has really stuck with me recently is to focus! I have a pretty multi-faceted career, and sometimes it’s easy to get carried away and take on too much or take on projects that are exciting but don’t align with my overall life goals.

I was once told that if I didn’t prioritize the skills I’m most passionate about and focus on less projects, I would never be able to be the best…still working on this one!

Worst career advice you’ve received?

When I sold my first company, a lot of people told me I was making the wrong decision. I haven’t regretted it for a minute. Although it was an amazing project that helped get me where I am today, if I didn’t let go, I never would have opened myself up to the opportunities I currently have. I wouldn’t trade places with anyone these days, and that feels pretty amazing.

What is your mantra these days?

Let go of expectations and assumptions. I picked this up in India and try to live it every day.

What do you hope people take away from the art program at Greenwood Stakes?

Firstly, I hope people take away some pretty amazing photos! But truly I want to show people what art culture looks like in Toronto. It’s so diverse, and there are so many young people doing creative things in this city that deserve attention. We live in a world-class city with world-class talent. We need to support and engage with them more.

Fill in the blank. Art is ______. Design is ______.

Art is expression. Design is articulation.

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