Newfoundland Labrador, specifically the St. John’s area, is rife with artistic talent of all varieties. I believe we can all benefit from increased awareness of the local artists in our great city. I also believe that artists here are drastically undervalued. Amidst the pandemic, the art scene has seen a disheartening drop off. With the inability to have shows and concerts for a while, actors, musicians, stage directors, and others of the sort have been unable to perform in-person and citizens have been unable to experience these cultural events. Thankfully, St. John’s has adapted some of the events to current regulations (as we are used to doing – think of the camaraderie that was born from the infamous Snowmaggedon), like allowing the annual music festival Lawnya Vawnya to take place in reduced capacity, art shows to occur in different spaces throughout the summer, and so on. However, given the challenges artists currently face due to our situation, this segment is meant to highlight local talent and will (hopefully) be updated as more interviewees become available.
For the first artist, I introduce Sidne Shears (she/her/they/them). Sidne (@sidne.jpg) is a student of Graphic Design and Interactive Media at the Toronto Film School and Yorkville University. Currently working in multiple mediums, Sidne’s portfolio is broad and beautiful!
I sent Sidne a list of ten questions and she sent me her responses via email. Some minor grammatical editing has been applied to the responses, but the sentiments remain true. Here, I would like to extend my gratitude to Sidne for these well-thought responses and for participating.
Q: How long have you been interested in art?
A: “As long as I can remember – my uncle, Jerry Evans, and father have had many artistic influences in my life [since I was] 5 years old, in teaching me how to draw and paint and use different tools.”
Q: What is it like being an artist in St. John’s?
A: “It’s almost like you’re always flipping a coin- on one side, it is exhilarating and [since] St. John’s is so small, the networks and opportunities are all right in front of you. [O]n the other side – the size can be a downfall, giving a smaller sense of individual freedom outside the close-knit culture. I find, though, that is only if you let it. St. John’s, especially, is a hub for Newfoundland’s young creators, which like stated previously, can offer endless opportunities or competition depending on how you look at it and other artists.”
Q: Do you have any favourite mediums to work with?
A: “Starting out, my favourite mediums were graphite – just usually sketching. Over time I’ve expanded my toolbox using different types of paint/materials, and eventually [worked] my way up to digital and woodworking mediums. Now, I try to never really use one specific medium, rather a blend of different mediums that have the combining power to bring a piece to life.”
Q: Do you have any advice for anyone experiencing art block?
A: “Art is a completely individual and unique experience for each person who creates and their respective audiences, so there [is] never going to be such thing as “perfect”. So stop striving for perfection – especially where it can never exist. Instead of doing things like pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, try staying in it – doing what you love and do best- and thrive on from there.”
Q: Do you have a muse or anything in particular that you take inspiration from?
A: “I have so many artists/creators/individuals who inspire me. I find inspiration through all of it and with the technology available these days, social media can act as a form of interactive art galleries, each person expressing themselves visually in their own ways, constantly surrounding us with inspiration and creative opportunities.”
Q: What piece of yours so far are you most proud of?
A: “Some of my proudest works have been most recent such as the new art out front of LAVI SÈKS (164 Water St). Using two 10 ft. sheets of plywood, spray paint, as well as some decorative light displays to bring to life Water Street’s first women of colour [in signage].”
Q: Who is your favourite artist? If you don’t have one in particular, do you have a favourite medium/type/culture of art you appreciate most?
A: “David Lynch has become a recent inspiration – although he is a filmmaker, I have never seen someone simply take the artistic sense of every little thing possible. Lynch brings his own style and twist to his movies films and shows [that] he not only writes, directs, and acts in to bring his immersive artistic experiences to life. By title he is a filmmaker but in reality he is one of the most creative and multifaceted artists I’ve come across.”
Q: Do you have any big projects in the works now?
A: “Over COVID, I purchased a vintage 1970s Jayco camper and have been using it as a blank canvas as to learn and experiment with all and any mediums in my own style. As well, I have been lucky to start working with LAVI SÈKS not only doing painting work but digital/social with some really really cool collaborative projects coming soon!”
Q: What do you enjoy most about your art?
A: “Freedom financially, spiritually, and creatively to do things all on my own for no one but myself. By sticking with what I love, it draws in kindred creative souls and from there a mutual form of appreciation and inspiration is created.”
Q: Are there any other local artists you’d like to give mention to?
Again, a special thank you goes to Sidne for responding to these questions. You can check out her art on her Instagram @sidne.jpg.