upward

Hot Pink Recap

Let me tell you the story of one amazing day. A lifetime ago (or a very short while, depending on your perspective), I had my very first solo art show.

I was half-assing my way through organizing the show till Tess McCann stepped in to offer her assistance. I would mark that as the most significant turning point in my art career to date (and of course, Tess is now my agent).

From there it’s been… I dunno, would it sound pretentious if I said it “a journey of self-discovery” ?

Anyway.

We’ve spent the last year and a half experimenting and learning about art shows and art marketing, and we’ve met some incredible people along the way. And all the things we’ve learned got applied to the latest extravaganza, Hot Pink .

Now, Hot Pink has its roots in two sources: a suggestion from Alex Stewart last summer that we do a pin-up girl show together, and a request from Tess the summer before for a hot pink painting of a dancer.

Everything just gelled from there. Putting this show together was almost effortless, apart from the labour in actually creating the art itself. Many people stepped in to help promote the show, offer suggestions and their encouragement, and lend a hand in many ways.

But wait . I’m getting ahead of myself here.

Let’s backtrack. Friday night, Feb. 22. Team Hot Pink gathered at imagemaker photographic studio to hang the show. I wore my toolbelt, because I’m told it makes me more popular with the ladies:

Alex brought along some stunning pieces. I’d been following their progress for months via social media, but it was my first time seeing most of them in the flesh.

(I brought along a few pieces of my own, of course.)

And in no time at all the entire show was hung, the pizza eaten, and beers drank. Waking up to sunshine the next morning was a nice omen.

And just like that, the Big Day was upon us:

You may have noticed the beautiful Hot Pink button in that last pic. It comes courtesy of Annie Friesen, the proprietor of Dottie’s Buttons . In addition to that button, Annie is now selling others that feature my artwork and Alex’s. We’re pretty pleased to have her on the team.

In addition we had a major contribution from Candice Roach’s Love Your Cake business. Another great local company run by a good friend. And her cakes are mindblowing to see (or to eat, for that matter).

My latest paintings were a hit. Several of them were sold before the show even happened. Here are the ones I’m particularly proud of:

Aside: Agent McCann and I also donated a painting to a fundraiser by our friends at the HiVE called An Evening of Debauchery . Full of inappropriate dirty jokes, politically-incorrect comedians, burlesque performers and an artist with a… unique approach to painting, the event was held to raise money for a non-profit business incubator. In the end the painting went to Nelu Oncel, who was patient enough to let us keep the painting for a few more days so it could still be in Hot Pink.

Alex and I also collaborated on two pieces, which is probably the creative highlight of my year so far. I started one piece that he finished, and vice versa. An incredible experience, and one I learned a lot from. Hopefully there’ll be more joint efforts from us in the future.

And from there, things just… rolled . Many excellent friends showed up, both old and new. These pics should give you an idea of how it went:

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At midnight we wrapped things up, exhausted. Took the party to several other locales, and in the AM we were back to tear everything down. By that afternoon you’d never know there’d even been a show.

So thanks to John Carter, Sarah Merris, Kimli Welsh, Steve Kinsey, Jeremy Ball, Amanda West, Jamie Presley and Meghan Low, Vicky Hames, Meghan Kilner, George Smeltzer and Lori Kittelberg, John Bell, John Watson, Alex Stewart, Jon Crewe, Jaime Lee Purgavie, Aimee Vuilleumier, Lyndsey McEwen, August Wiled, Chantal Michaud, everyone who wore pink to support the cause, and the incomparable Tess McCann, who once again deserves a huge round of applause for everything she’s done for me.

Photos courtesy of John Watson, Tess McCann, Alex Stewart, Heather Prost, Cathy Browne, Christy McNeil, Scott Graham, and Bret Taylor.


So I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately. 2012 has been, as I may have mentioned previously, not such a good year for me * . Pretty much the only positives in my life have been a handful of new friends I met (plus a small circle of “older”, tried-and-true ones), and the art. Many other things, personal and otherwise, have turned out to be mirages, or just carrots dangled in front of me for whatever reason.

A huge chunk of my time has been invested in trying to just understand what I’ve been through. Never mind undoing the damage, or actually trying to move forward .

But the year is almost over, so it’s time to cast off all this extraneous existential bullshit and focus on the positive. I’ve been extremely fortunate to have had some monumental influences on my art (two people in particular, and I’m sure they know who they are), and my art career. I’m miles ahead of where I was after my first show – which was only fourteen months ago, though I find that hard to believe at times. It’s weird and a bit disconcerting to look back at how I threw that show together mostly by myself, just making it up as I went along. Now I’ve done four shows, I’ve got an art book in the works, and I even have an now.

I just need to figure out where the next evolutionary jump is. Merchandise sales are growing, and so is the local buzz, but it seems as though we’ve taken social media (for example) about as far as we can as a promotional tool. I’d like to get into galleries, of course, but I’m not exactly sure how that happens in today’s fragmented art market.

Until we figure that out, though, I’m immensely thankful for all the support and encouragement I’ve gotten from a growing circle of amazing people. And I’m looking forward to applying all the things we’ve learned this year to the next show ** .

Speaking of which, I also want to focus heavily on artistic collaboration in my immediate future. The aforementioned show (with Alex Stewart ) is a crucial step in that direction, and hopefully just the first one. I’d like to combine efforts with other artists, photographers, possibly even writers or musicians. I’d also like to put together street teams to promote next year’s events, so if you’re interested, please let me know.

So thanks for reading, and onward and upward in 2013.

Bret Taylor
Vancouver, BC
December 7, 2012

* In fact it’s been kind of horrible, especially the first five months.
** Hot Pink , tentatively scheduled for early February.


Thanks.

Brothers and sisters, these are strange and portentous times. An entire string of anniversaries, both artistic and (much) more personal, is sweeping by as we speak. And while I’m generally not one to dwell on the past, looking back can definitely be instructive.

Not that I’d want to live there. But F. Scott said it well:

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

On Friday afternoon I realized it was the anniversary of the day I hung the artwork for my first solo show. What a difference a year makes. Going into that first show I barely had a clue what I was doing – just flying by the seat of my pants, really. Since then there’ve been some monumental gains, and a catastrophic loss or two. But we soldier on, don’t we?

And Sunday (Oct. 7th) was the anniversary of the itself. This might be a good time to have a quick look at these as well, though they’re more of a sidebar or a footnote to today’s musings. Go ahead, I’ll wait right here.

An unbelievable event for me; I’ve never experienced anything quite like it, before or since. The things people did for me, the way they helped out, was overwhelming. Even the little things, like the fact that there was a fresh drink in my hand practically before I even finished the previous one (my Lovely Assistant had some serious ninja skills). I felt like the king of the world.

I remember, at one point, looking around and seeing these people who’d never met before, talking and laughing and drinking, and realizing that it was my art had brought them together. That was incredibly moving.

After the show, a couple very important people came back to my place for more cocktails and the Most Inappropriate High-Five of All Time. The following day was a photo shoot for one of my friend Karina’s books. Sometimes I look back at photos from that weekend and I wonder what happened to that guy. He certainly had no idea of what life had in store for him over the coming months. So many things went wrong, it felt like I was living in a country song.

Not that it was all doom and gloom, of course. Some pretty goddamn incredible things happened to me, too. I’ve hit my stride as an artist. I’ve got a clear vision of where I want to go from here, and what I want to do. My heart was touched by people too numerous to mention – people who were there for me at the darkest times, people who made me feel like a rockstar, people who reached out, people who absolutely embraced my art.

I put on two more shows, created 40 new paintings (and 15 more are nearing completion) and countless drawings, published a calendar, was hit by a truck, had my heart broken, found support from unexpected corners, worked my ass off, completed a thousand consecutive days of art, made cool new friends from all over the world, reconnected with old ones, lost a couple people who were very important to me, burned a bridge or two, shed a little blood and no small amount of tears, succeeded, failed, lost 25 pounds, got new tattoos, learned a lot about muses…

… but most of all? I survived .

Now I’m mere days away from my biggest show yet . Plus it’s Thanksgiving. If you can join us on the 13th, we’d love to have you. And if you’ve moved me over the past year, if you’ve touched me, if you’ve inspired me, if you’ve shared my victories – then I thank you. You’re the reason I do this.

Bret Taylor
Vancouver, BC
October 8/2012


Well, kids, the shotglasses are done. Seems like a million years have passed since I kicked the project off on January 1st, all full of piss and vinegar and ready to draw 366 glasses over the course of 2012.

Then again, I had no idea at the time what twists and turns my life would take in January. Guess I can’t fault myself for not being clairvoyant, though – I doubt that anybody else could’ve predicted the things that have happened to me any better.

So here I am almost a month and a half later, and the world as I know it is drastically different from the one I thought I was living in back in December. Some longterm plans hatched in happier times have been shelved, sadly. And the adjustment process hasn’t at all been easy.

On the plus side, here’s the last of the 31 shotglasses:

And I think the new idea of having a different theme every month will add some much-needed variety to the whole drawing-every-day thing. Dinosaurs for February are, as you’ve already seen, well underway. Other potential monthly topics include guitars, shoes, dogs & cats, dragons, and at least one other than I’m blanking on at the moment. I’m certainly open to suggestions from the floor.

Also on the brighter side, the work situation has taken a definite turn for the better, so at least that particular bit of stress and pressure has lessened considerably.

Onward and upward, right?

Bret Taylor
Lost in 2012.


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