Sunday, February 22, 2009

Meet Req the Whimsical Canadian

I have another super multimedia artist to introduce you to. You are going to love this recycling, artistic Canadian. Almost all of her whimsical art takes place on recycled materials. I fell in love with her artwork on Etsy when I was looking for
ecofriendly artists. You can find lots of great artists on Etsy producing quality handcrafted items, and lots of the products are environmentally friendly. So, before I give away all the surprises, I'd like to start my interview with Req. Don't blame me if after the interview you go to her shop and buy everything in it - it's just one of those good things.

Tell us a little about the art you make?

i'm a bit of a scattered artist in that i like to dabble in a variety of different mediums [paper, vintage book pages, pen and ink, felt, cardboard, paintings], but thematically i'm pretty solid- crows, squid, jellyfish, pills... once in a while i stray from those, but i always come back home. i try to infuse a bit of humour in everything i make, be it a silly title or an obviously funny doorknob hanger.

when i started making art, i spent way too much money on canvases and paint and other supplies... there came a point where i decided i wanted to make things, but not at the expense of being able to live my life. i forced myself to start making things from whatever i found in recycling bins or cheap things at the second hand store. it's a more exciting thing to do, to scour a store for something just right or to try and see the possibility in something, instead of going to the back of the store where the 8"X8" canvases always are. i feel that it forces me to grow, it creates new rules for me every time i go to the charity shop- everything becomes an exciting experiment.

Where do you get inspiration for your art?

inspiration can and does come from anywhere, usually at a time when i don't have a pencil or a piece of paper and am forced to repeat the idea to myself like a mantra [which i inevitably forget until i'm half asleep that night]- the latest thing i made was a mixed media piece on cardboard of clouds and raindrops- i was inspired by a fellow artist [heather utah] who said clouds were relaxing to draw. i wanted to see if she was right, and she is! sometimes it's a song lyric [the piece "sleep when i'm dead" was made thanks to a song by the cure] sometimes it's

even as basic as "can i actually draw a jellyfish?" and then things take on a life of their own. mostly though, my work is inspired by humour. life can be too serious and heavy; i like a piece of levity [even black humour] at least daily. i don't go looking for inspiration, it usually hunts me down, like a cat .

Do you have a favorite medium to work with?

paper, in any form- book pages, loose leaf, cardboard, any of it- i love love love paper and the textures it comes in. i like the way it always does something different even if i'm doing the exact same steps- it'll buckle or tear or wrinkle or stay flat or peel off... i love the unpredictability of it. this may sound strange, but i love how frustrating it can be.

Most everything you do is on recycled materials, like books or fabric - is that an important part of your artwork?

it really is. i've been an environmental gal since the early 80s' it's just my way of life. i ADORE being able to take a ripped up book and instead of leaving it in the recycling bin, i'm able to make 100+ artworks from it. i'm an odd duck in that when i can save something from the garbage, i feel like i've won a prize, it's a bizarre victory for me to say "look at this!!! they were just going to throw this out, can you believe it?!" just this evening i bought some valentine's day candy and thought to myself "well the chocolate is all well and good, but what can i do with the red foil though? maybe i should buy the ones with the pink foil instead..." i'm always thinking like that now. using every piece of something thrills me. i have stacks of broken books that i've taken from libraries' recycling bins- i don't know what to do with them all, but i figure they're better of with me, than at a recycling plant. and if i hit a point where i have too many, well, putting them back where i found them is still a great solution for the environment.

another aspect to using these types of items is that while i need to be able to make my art, i also need to be able to afford to make my art! and of greatest importance to me is that if someone else really wants to own it, that they themselves be able to afford it. if i used other mediums, i'd be forced to charge more to recoup material cost

Where can we go to buy your artwork?

you can find me online:

my twitter and flickr accounts are also "reqbat"

and my blog is for previews of my work, as well as monthly freebies!

What kinds of different projects are you working on for the future?

i bought myself a sewing machine to learn how to sew free-form on things, i'm very excited about trying to sew on vintage book pages, even though i don't know how that'll work with some of the paper being as tender as it is.... and i've recently started delving into making more "story telling art" and other stuff that's kid-friendly... my sketchbook is filled with different raindrop sketches, so maybe something like that in felt?

and i have this pile of pink foil here...

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