How three Canadian creatives designed studios to foster artistry

Steven Andrews

Artist Stephen Andrews divides his time between three Toronto-based studios, devoting his home studio into painting. Andrews’s Victorian home in the city’s Trinity Bellwoods neighbourhood offers tons of visual stimulation undergone a renovation by architect Tamira Sawatzky to what the artist calls a “nouveau cabinet of curiosities.” He retains his garden-facing studio with no distractions or unnecessary objects: a purist paintingnbsp;distance.

On a normal afternoon, Andrews is at work on his canvases until 10 a.m., working four hours straight, alone or together with his part-time helper Mohammad Rezaei, frequently tuning his radio to strikes of the past four decades. At two pm, he heads out for a late lunch at the area, after which he takes a quick rest and heads back to studio for another fewnbsp;hours.

The artist’s work deals with memory, identity and technology, and process differs with every medium he tackles. “I work in a number of mediums: painting, drawing, photography, film, animation and lately dance,” he says. “Usually I respond to my instinct and follow it where it leads me. Making the job is a process of discovery and never really know what I am doing until after thenbsp;reality.”


Vikky Alexander

Having spent most of her life in Vancouver, 18 months ago celebrity Vikky Alexander relocated to Montreal, settling at a 1,800-square-foot condo on the top floor of a two-storey mid-century business construction in the Verdun neighbourhood. The building was previously home to a bowling alley, and the distance that Alexander currently shares with her partner, artist Roy Hartling, was remodeled and transformed into a house by Projets MJ Inc., keeping its industrial look with concrete flooring, 13-foot ceilings and loftnbsp;windows.

Alexander, who mostly works in sculpture and photography, has a committed east-facing studio area but the boundaries between live and work environments tend to blur a daily basis. “I frequently use the eight-foot,white marble Saarinen dining table for a work desk,” Alexander says. “I will spread things out on it{}” On a normal day, the artist juggles creative work and dull office maintaining, with twice-daily strolls with her 18-month French Bulldog, Rocky, and a head-clearing 30-minute swim in the indoor pool thenbsp;road.

Alexander’s creative process varies from project to project. “I work {}, and I am motivated by things that give me pleasure, ” she says. “Recurring themes in my work are character, design and the seduction ofnbsp;distance.”


Jon Rafman

“When not travelling, I base my program on Winston Churchill’s,” states Montreal-based artist Jon Rafman. “I can not think straight unless I am lying down, either in bed or stretched on a sofa.” The artist, whose work focuses on engineering and electronic environments, has a rigorous daily routine implemented in and about his Mile End attic, after a garter-belt sweatshop through the heyday of Montreal shmatanbsp;industry.

Rafman starts his day really early with a breakfast of bagels, lox and cream cheese out of Fairmount Bagel, which he likes while still in bed, and he scrolls through his social media feeds, neglects to mails and work notes with the support of Siri before getting up to have a bathroom, a work habit inspired by Gertrude Stein. (Rafman had an oversized tub custom-designed for this function.) After a quick coffee, the artist enjoys a three-course Greek lunch at Milos, followed with a Vodka Red Bull with lemon served slightly below room temperature, before heading to the studio to work. At 5 pm, he takes an hour and a half nap, another bath, and contributes to studio afternbsp;dinner.

When creativity is involved, even his choice of music is unorthodox. “I work best with soothing new age and nature sounds, especially Heavy Island of Borneo Ambiance [from Nature Sound Collection] and ambiance sound from video games such as Mass Effect 3,” henbsp;states.

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Courtesy: The Globe And Mail

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