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Photos by Michelle Homonylo
Article by Jocelyn Utting
I am a visual artist/illustrator, editor of Duty Free and a DJ.
Virgo (my moon is Leo and my rising is Pisces).
What traits about your star sign most resonate with you?
There’s a lot about Virgos that resonates with me. I feel like (despite trying to fight it sometimes) I’m the poster girl for Virgo. I’m loyal. Overcritical. A huge perfectionist. I care about other people too much. I am such a flirt but so, so painfully monogamist - its a curse. I can’t navigate modern relationships at all.
What traits about your star sign do you like / dislike?
Being overly critical can be a blessing and a curse. I often get trapped in my head. If I can take the time to do something the way I envision it though, it’s very rewarding.
What is your ruling sign (fire, earth, water, air)? What does this element mean to you?
I like that my rising is a Pisces, because it’s the opposite of Virgo. Love the thought of having that duality in my character. Opposites co-existing is a theme that I feel on a spiritual and cultural level as a Pakistani-born muslim in Toronto. There are a lot of aspects of my experience that are polar opposites and cannot be faded into each other: they must be embraced at the same time.
Are you more interested in looking up into the stars or keeping your feet on the ground?
Looking up to the stars is probably all I ever do. Its funny, I remember when I was young I would fantasize about aliens taking me to new galaxies. Its vital to who I am. Without my dreams and fantasies and the stories I make up in my head I don’t think I’d be an artist. Life can be very trying at times and its the only way I can maintain a positive outlook. If I didn’t have creativity as an escape I wouldn’t have found ways to better myself.
What is the most empowering characteristic of your artistic lens?
As an artist I enjoy dissecting my everyday life into its different sensory parts and trying to find patterns and place meaning in them- what I, as a result, define as beauty. I love that as an artist I allow myself to get lost in thoughts and daydreams. A process that is evermore exciting as I learn more about this world through research and broaden my understanding with travel and experiences. Another empowering aspect is definitely being self-directed, and having the power to invent myself, my practice. I have no limitations.
Your artwork mostly portrays human @igures but through different artistic styles and environments. What do you find most interesting about the human form, and how and why does your style change when portraying it?
I want to tell the stories in my head. I want to capture subtleties in people. Their expressions/ moods/ trying to capture a moment in time. I want to show the world the things I notice and treasure about people. I guess that must be why I change up the style to much, I try to find an approach that conveys that particular lens. I’m hoping overtime I’ll be able to have a recognisable consistency but its not something I think about too much.
What is one argument or discussion you’d like your artwork to provoke?
I don’t think I try to put forward any particular provocation or argument in my artwork but I do conscientiously value representation and inclusivity in my approach. I try to be true to my perspective and its intersections (muslim, queer, Pakistani-Canadian, etc), hoping that it will create an honest product. I think as an artist, and probably especially in the world of illustration, you learn and develop yourself based on the work of others and it takes a while to find your own voice.
‘Wisdom Tooth’ was drawn in collaboration with another artist; Jisu Lee. How did you collaborate in your art? And what is artistic collaborations’ strengths and weaknesses.
I think collaboration is amazing because it allows you to create more than the sum of your parts. I think the trick is to find someone who’s work you really admire and who both overlaps with your work as well as diverges from it. That’s definitely Jisu for me. Its not only her work that inspires me but also the way she thinks and approaches an image. Wisdom Tooth was born out of several hang out sessions. We thought of this theme and set out a loose narrative that came together bit by bit. The trick is to plan the framework but not the art itself. Jisu is a Scorpio and she’s very light and calm all the time. She’s taught me to be more spontaneous with how I draw. That’s probably the best thing that came out of art school, the amount of insanely talented people I’ve met and what I’ve learned through collaboration with them.
How does the internet affect you and your spirituality?
It can be tricky navigating spirituality on the internet. Theres a lot of info and a lot of lies. I need to be aware that when I seek out something I’m restricted to my algorithms. Math god is making decisions for me. It’s not the same as searching for meaning irl. When you go out in the real world to find cosmic reasoning or whatever, you find more.
What’s a piece of advise you’d want to give your future self?
Advice for future me? Don’t let the obstacles in your life stop you from doing what you want to do.