Interview and photos by Natasha Gris
Q: What is your creative process like?
A: I take inspiration from anything really! I love working with ideas from projects I’m working on, travelling, and lately, I take inspiration from making series. My last three series were based on my international tours to Europe and Art World Expo themes: French Painting Series for our France Tour in 2015, Glamour Noir Series for Art World Expo 2016 and this year, I am working on a European Series inspired by my travels in Europe and my own origins from Poland.
Q: How did you get started in the arts?
A: I won a contest for “Just Say No” the anti drug campaign in elementary school. After this, my dad bought me my first painting set. I used to watch Mark Kistler and this year, I have the good fortune of interviewing him.
Q: Who are your biggest inspirations and why?
A: I take inspiration from many people. First, I am inspired by my family. We immigrated through a refugee camp in Italy where I was born and growing up in Canada, I learned to really admire and appreciate my heritage and where I have come from. I always count my blessings and remember that every day is a new opportunity to work to help my family succeed. I am also inspired by many people in the community, the artists that I am able to work with as well as all sorts of well known people like Oprah, Pat Flynn, Tony Robbins, Tim Ferris, Tim Burton, Alec Monopoly, Banksy. There are really too many to list!
Q: Do you have a message you are trying to convey though your art?
A: I think what I try to do is incorporate that you can do anything with your life. Your life is an art so to speak. Whatever you imagine you can create whether it is on or off a canvas is irrelevant.
Q: What goals do you have as an artist?
A: I would like to be able to continue to have fun while being successful as an artist and business person. My ultimate goal is to become a multi-millionaire fuelled by artistic endeavours! I would like to be able to contribute to society via charitable works and also be able to mentor emerging artists. I would also love to expand the Art World Expo internationally to licensees and really drive our brand power to help artists around the world as well as expose the general public to the notion of art as life.
Q: How did Art World Expo come to be? How long has it been going on for?
A: I started it in 2010 as a trial event for a Hait fundraiser. We had over 60 artists participate and it was so much fun, I was hooked! This year is our 7th annual event in Vancouver and our 2nd bi-annual installation in Toronto will be in October 2017.
Q: Can you tell me about your work with Make and Break Arts Foundation?
A: We fundraise on an annual basis for MABAF. Proceeds help support arts programs for kids, arts exhibitions such as Art World Expo and ongoing studio maintenance and facility costs associated to arts programming and development. Art World Expo has never been funded by tax payers grants and we are proud that all of our fundraising has come from the support of our business and arts community. All proceeds from the event auction go directly to help fund the costs of production each year.
Q: How have your life experiences shaped your art?
A: This is a loaded question! I think everything prepares you for the next step, the next project, the next piece. Each moment is an opportunity to be prepared for the next piece of work or the next show. I try to live my life this way and always seek to find moments of inspiration in my experiences.
Q: When did you know you were an artist? Did you embrace it?
A: I think we are all artists in a way-most of us deny it though! We all do something creatively-Sing, decorate our houses, get ourselves dressed! Everything requires a sort of artful Je ne sais quoi. I think I realized this fully in my early twenties when I started to really sell work that I was making. By the time I was 26, I started my business and haven’t looked back. I knew after I finished University and started teaching full time that I had more inside of me that wanted to come out!
Q: What achievements are you most proud of?
A: I am really proud of just getting to this point in life in general. I travel a lot and am passionate about animals, third worlds and the environment. I think I am very lucky just to “be” and exist in the world today. I am proud of my garden, of learning how to play the organ, of finishing University with two degrees and a teacher’s certificate in BC. I’m also proud of my studio and gallery in North Van and equally proud of my family and my fiance Rob. I think everything to date has been an accomplishment and I am thankful for all of it.
Q: What response does your work elicit?
A: I have mixed reviews based on my series. Some people love it, others not so much. I don’t really worry about what people think. In fact, I prefer not to know because I don’t do it for the approval of others. I do it for me and the process of letting out what is inside.
Q: Can you tell me about the journey towards owning your own art studio? What kind of
workshops do you offer? What made you realize you wanted to open an art studio?
A: I opened the studio first in East Vancouver where mostly I just painted and worked on my art. After I had taught for a year full time in a private school as a Senior French Language Specialist, I knew it wasn’t for me. I decided to start offering painting classes and from there, expanded quickly to a larger location in North Vancouver where I live. I have had this studio open for 5 years and we offer kids, youth and adult classes, camps and international art tours. We also sell work from local and international artists, designers and jewellers. www.mabartstudio.com
Q: What qualities do you look for in artists to feature in your shows?
A: I look for unique and different works. Things that are out of the ordinary. Most importantly, I look for artists who are driven to succeed and who take their craft seriously.
Q: What are your favourite mediums to create art with?
A: I use mostly acrylic paint but have been working with photography, jewellery making, photo transfers as well as written word as well. I published my first book last summer and look forward to adding new concepts and wares to my work all the time. I enjoy making everything really; body paint, photos, paintings, prints, merchandise, and even jewellery has been stimulating. I have loads of ideas for my own artistry and also for my projects. I am never short of inspiration!