This photograph is part of a little Colour and Form exercise in figurative portraiture of blue-eyed guys against a blue background. The subject, Sam, is also a friend of mine. He really is a great person: he can hold a conversation, is a talented musician, and has a sincere interest in whatever you are doing. And it is that last quality that really does it for me. You extract something so valuable when you can share a mutually sincere connection.
In the last year of university, two friends of mine (Mark Peckmezian and Andrew Myers) and myself built a living and work space out of an old fitness studio in downtown Toronto–luckily, we and the corresponding chaos were graced by the goodwill and placidity of another friend, Caleigh Dunfield. It was an often debaucherous, sometimes heartening, and most importantly, creative place. It incubated a creative space that countered lacklustre school lessons, and brought together in troves so many like-minded people. I, admittedly, only lasted nine months, but those months were so formative in my art, and in what I now realize is a super-significant appreciation for surrounding myself in a community where you reciprocally respect and benefit each other.
Shortly after school ended, I started a back-and-forth photo exchange with a pen pal and photographer Chelsee Ivan (www.1overx.tumblr.com). We both loved each other’s work, and found that we shared a common thread in our process and execution. Sometimes we’re really on point with it, but a lot of the time it merely acts as another shared, creative space. That space is still alive and well, though, because, it fulfills the part of my creative process where I want to get out of my own head, and work on something with another being.
The arts can be so individualistic, and a lot of the time I wouldn’t want it to be otherwise, but there is a strange magic when you find common ground with other minds on a greater idea or entity. Vice recently published a small profile on the director Emily Kai Bock, where she mentions the creative space in Montréal that became the genesis of so many artistic endeavours. Out of that loft space, Lab Synthèse, came her films, the record label Arbutus, and musicians by the likes of Grimes and Blue Hawaii.
Probably the most obvious examples of one of these spaces is in the online realm. I’ve made so many connections through Facebook, Tumblr, and Instagram with people who I genuinely admire, and want to one day be involved with, at least in the slightest, some part of their work. When I made the move to Los Angeles, I only knew one person here. I met–for lack of a better word–photographer Stephanie Gonot through the channels of online communities on Flickr probably in 2008. She still runs the blog Please Excuse the Mess, which is a testament not only to the strength of her curatorial muscle, but also to the importance of such communities in the real life. Thanks to her, I have been introduced to a whole community of people who are working and existing together. And thanks to them plus many others, Los Angeles is witnessing an undeniable and palpable creative resurgence.
And well similarly, I feel like just in formulating and writing this post, I’ve incited a new excitement for several of my own collaborations on the horizon. Amen!