Cody: Well, I suppose I've always been painting/drawing/doing something with my hands. I think I was always pretty aware that I would end up doing something visual arts related, but I had to test out the waters with a few different things before deciding that painting/illustration was the way to go for me, and not something like clothing design, which I also toyed with for a while.
You went to OCAD (Ontario College of Art & Design)after high school. How was that?
I pretty much hated art school. That Daniel Clowes graphic novel Art School Confidential sums up pretty well why I disliked it so much. Honestly though, I probably didn’t like it simply because I was so directionless and I knew I needed to be doing something, but I wasn’t sure what just yet. I would have appreciated it a lot more if I went now for instance. I have a better idea of what I need to do in life to make me ultimately happy, so it would just be a far more useful tool now. I really like having full use of the printmaking facilities though. That was rad. So instead of finishing art school, I ran away to Scotland. That ended up being a more educational experience anyways.
What kind of tools and methods do you use? Any things you couldn't live without?
In the past year I've been working primarily in gouache, watercolour and ink. Mainly on wood and paper.
I sort of apply the same principals to my drawings and paintings that I would use in printmaking. I have an image in my mind to start with, and then I build up layers of color in some kind of strategic way, until I have something that resembles the image I started with in my mind. Gouache is such a great medium, mainly because the colors come out so flat and opaque, its hard not to love it, although it can be a pain in the ass sometimes. I think the material I couldn’t live without would have to be the Pentel pocket brush pen, which is totally amazing. And then maybe Turner acryl gouache would be a close second.
How often do you work on your art? What is your routine?
I draw or paint every day. On days when I don’t do something, I feel very weird, and bummed, and then have to lie down. It makes me feel gross. So lately my routine is pretty consistent, I get up, usually go for a run, and then try to spend anywhere from 3-7 hours working on either drawings or paintings, depending on how much other stuff I end up distracting myself with.
How would you describe your paintings?
I can say that I hope other people would describe my paintings as funny, although I'm not totally sure how I might try and describe them. They’re meant to be tongue-in-cheek for the most part, so it makes me happy when someone laughs at my work. I think the subject matter can be a bit dark, but that doesn't necessarily make it morbid, its just dark humor. Not to be taken too literally. I would say there's a fair bit of symbolism in there too, so its just a matter of what it means to the viewer. Like a song, maybe one person hears it and cries, and another hears it and feels nothing. Its all personal, I guess.
You used to make show posters when you lived in Glasgow, as part of the design duo Whitehaus. What's happening on that front? Do you think you'll make any more posters or do zines?
Yeah, I've been doing printmaking for about 6 years now, I guess. I love doing it, and making posters in Glasgow was a total dream. When I was living there, there happened to be a scarce number of poster design companies doing what we were doing, so it was pretty rad. We got to do posters for some great bands that I really admire, like Arab Strap, Low, Idlewild and Midlake. I had intended to pick it up fairly quickly after coming back to Toronto, but it's taken me this long to get the studio situation sorted out. Hopefully in the new year, I should have a new studio and I can get back into it. I would love to do a zine, I've been thinking about it for a while. But I would want to hand-print it, because I work better in color, so I will have to wait until I have a print studio set up.
Who or what inspires you?
It sounds pretty lame, but everything inspires me. The day-to-day stuff I see every day is what I thrive on. Being miserable inspires me too. When I'm bummed, that’s when I really throw myself into painting. And I usually get some pretty cool imagery out of it too. But adversely, I also love humor and seeing the funny side to sad situations. I guess on a whole, I just love contrasting emotions. I'm into experiencing the whole spectrum of emotions. That the only way to be, all or nothing!
Does music inspire you when you paint?
Totally! I've basically got two painting/drawing modes; one where I need to listen to a story, in which case I will usually listen to This American Life, or a forensic science show while I'm working. The other mode is music mode. These days I listen to lots of Smog, Bonnie Prince Billy, Micah p. Hinson, The Magnetic Fields, anything kind of reflective. The most recent Timber Timbre album is amazing! And then when I'm more hyper maybe the Misfits, Animal Collective, BBQ, King Khan and the Shrines, Black Lips, Quest for Fire….. I could go on here, but I think that’ll do.
Any artists you think people should check out?
Yes! Jay Dart does pretty rad illustrations, and I just saw Andrew Wilson’s solo show here in Toronto, which was pretty outstanding. Andre Ethier is an amazing painter that everyone should know about, and incidentally, an amazing singer too. Seth Scriver, Tony Romano and Jeff Garcia are all great. And in terms of non-Canadians, I'm always up for some Richard Colman action, as well as Maya Hayuk. We both love drawing hairy legs, so I feel a special kinship with her.
Any dream goals for the future?
To eat copious amounts of pie and ice cream. And maybe also to have a few more solo shows in the new year. I think I would also love to do a residency of six months or so somewhere cool like Paris, Copenhagen, or even New York at some point. That would be pretty nice.