Sandra Chevrier Interview
You recently released a line of decorative pillows featuring your work. What led to your decision of venturing into this market?
As much as I have always been interested in design and decoration, flea markets and garage sales have been a constant source of discovery where I could find unique and original items. At beginning, I was only thinking of creating cuddly toys for my son. I bought a sewing machine and started to learn sewing. At this point, though, my son’s bedroom was already filling up with teddy bears and such. I had to find another way for the sewing machine to be profitable. I therefore decided to explore this newly discovered medium, From exploration emerged a new form of art that I call Comfy-Art.
I began to produce single pieces by painting directly on canvas. Then, I used reproductions of previous pieces, printed with ink-jet, on canvas as well. And so, it is now possible to obtain some of my Ladies, in a soft and comfortable version, at an affordable price. It is important for me to use pre-owned fabric, like old jeans or meters of unused fabric that I find in fripperies. I am very happy with the result, since the impact in a room is almost the same as an actual painting hanging on a wall. It’s still an art piece, but comfortably useful.
What are some of the positive and negative lessons learned undertaking this new product?
At first, my idea was to create unique pieces, completely handmade. But I had to rethink the whole process because of financial, practical (i.e. durability) and time constraints. All the investment in time and material would have raised the selling prices. Even more, a painted cushion would have started to crack and would eventually be ruined.
Since some of my creations are intended for children, some stores requested a full inspection of my pieces and the materials used to produce them. This proved to require a considerable financial investment on my part. But, I am very proud of it all because this idea became an actual product. I usually have a lot of ideas that are never realized. This project is on going and I will continue to elaborate and create new pieces on my faithful “Singer”.
We can find you on popular social networking sites such as Facebook and MySpace, but you also write your own Blog and maintain your own website. How much time, on average per week, do you spend creating your art versus marketing yourself and your work?
I am a newly full-time mom, and if I could buy time, I would gladly invest money in it! But working as an artist is a particular thing, and, though I adore my son and cherish the time I spend with him, creating is for me a necessity, a haunting need. People of my entourage help me make time to spend creating. I don’t hesitate to put my paintbrush to work when my son is napping or during any other free time I get. Luckily, I am able to creatively perform on short scale and my work process is well-planned.
For the artists and creators, the Web is a wonderful opportunity to be seen, to discover other fellow artists, get comments from our fans and get connections in the artistic circle. Therefore, as soon as I finish a piece, I expose it on the web. I spend a couple of hours weekly to update my websites, but I wish I would get more time to write my Blog. I can’t do much more than scribbling a couple of words and what I would really like is to write down a full analysis of my art and my pieces. I believe it would be much appreciated from my readers, but it would also enable me to ponder on my work and understand the choices I make only relying on instinct. Most of my free time is dedicated to my actual practice – painting – on which I spend an average of fifteen hours per week.
Most of the artists we interviewed have taken their talents to major artistic hubs such as New York City or London. As an artist in Montreal who makes great use of the Internet to market herself, do you believe that moving closer to one of these areas could help further your career?
I believe that art travels well through Internet, without any obligation for the artist to travel. Some of my fans live across the world and have discovered my art by chance. On the other hand, in order to meet gallery owners, art dealers and collectors, I believe it is important to be present and to participate in different events, which evidently requires getting close to the action.
Your work is centered on the feminine mystic, though recently you have incorporated masculinity by fusing fierce, traditionally male animal heads to female bodies. Do you ever feel that you need a metaphorical lion head to deal with the business side of the art world?
Unfortunately, I don’t have a strong business side. I could actually use the lion’s force to gain my place in this fierce world. There are already so many talented people trying be known that it is more then often sheer luck that gets one there. It is important to believe in what we do, to be passionate about it and to be well connected. I don’t believe that being a woman today is a drawback in the business world. Don’t forget that it is the lioness that goes out there to hunt!
What are your plans for the future?
As mentioned earlier, my work is taking a new creative turn. It was indeed a representation of femininity mixing lots of self-portraits, parts of faces with feathers or butterfly wings and, many recurring feminine characters called «Les Dames» – The Ladies – sporting imposing hair and mysterious stares. I felt the need to look into something else, to challenge myself. At the moment, the animal kingdom inspires me tremendously. Each species are so different from one another. Their beauty residing in their own particularities as well as in their complexities. My artistic process is still the same, contradictory themes expressed through graphic, almost illustrative imagery, and laid on a canvas where acrylic and ink have randomly run down. I want to try new challenging things and always further my work.
As for the business part, I am presently looking for a professional exhibition opportunity as well as for an art manager to represent my work. This year, I will therefore concentrate my efforts on finding key people who will help me take my work to the next level.
Where can art lovers currently view your art?
I often exhibit my art in alternative spaces such as restaurants, bars and cafés in Montreal, the Laurentides or the South Shore. The exact locations can be found on my web sites.
“I learned to talk, to walk and then, to craft – and I really liked it.”
Holder of a Bachelor’s degree in Visual and Mediatic Arts from UQAM, this young self-taught painter first fell in love with pencil drawing. This influence is obvious on her canvas as her lines are almost illustrative. She lays her passion for details on a totally random universe. A dance between reality and imagination, truth and deception, cure and poison. Acrylic colors inter-weaved together, running down to coil themselves up into spangling inks above which live feminine and auto-representative characters or remixed Hindu Gods, or even clowns staring persistently under huge hair. Symbols and objects add poetry and strangeness to those creations. The aesthetic of the pieces seduces and plays a prevailing part. “To me, Art is not only a way of expression, it’s a language in itself.”