An interview with one of our resident artists, shop all of Essery's prints here.
WRAPPR: Have you always wanted to be an artist?
ESSERY: Not at all, growing up I was always unsure of what I wanted ‘to do’. I had only that perpetually vague idea of wanting to be a better person, like most people. But I’ve found developing an art practice has created the spaciousness for some of the most meaningful work (self-excavations) on myself, and in turn it’s made my art clearer, and then me clearer, and then the art again, and so on. I really only acknowledged that recently, within the last couple years maybe. Before then I was often doubtful if I felt like an artist or not, or what it even meant. And while I still have a nodding relationship with that uncertainty, I can relate to being an artist now because I feel in symbiosis with my art practice. The title, and even the output, feels more like a fossil of the thing that happens. That’s where I’m at. It’s a more at-peace answer this time around.
W: Tell us a bit about your background, and how you got to where you are now
E: I grew up in a small farming village outside Ottawa and the Internet was my escape outlet. I learned HTML when I was 10 because designing webpages felt like instant magic and a way to connect to a wider world I felt cut off from. I went to an arts high school in the city for creative writing and started taking on freelance web projects, doing the design, code, and copywriting. I then studied multimedia production in university, transitioned beyond coding to graphics and cameras, tried different industries like marketing and film, but always came back to freelance. I guess I got started by always saying yes and to where I am now by starting to say no too. I like to tinker closely with my routines and where I devote my time and energy, and I think that’s been a big help in cultivating my own intrinsic sense of success and wellbeing.
W: What type of work do you do for your clients?
E: Graphic design, creative direction and photography, more or less.
W: Which of those do you enjoy most right now?
E: Probably creative direction because of the conceptual nature, I live in my head easily and it’s a good way to make use of it. But they all balance each other out, and I usually take on and enjoy whatever feels like the biggest relief: When I have mostly design work on the go, photography projects are such a release because the initial act of creating is much more time sensitive and limited to a given moment. It’s a literal snap: You catch it or you don’t, but you have to trust you will realize the potential later when you develop and process the images in the aftermath of the shoot. I need that lesson a lot. And vice versa, when I’m working on mostly photoshoots I enjoy the slow quiet of drawing. I get tricky like that but I feel lucky to be someone that’s never bored. It makes time and the world very rich.
W: What type of work do you do for your own enjoyment?
E: The client work I take on is always for my own enjoyment too, but for just me, I write, photograph and design spaces, along with a slew of other hobbies I’m too mediocre at to list here but love dearly. But looking through my photographs or coming over to my home - that’s you seeing me in conversation with myself.
W: What is your biggest indulgence?
E: Solitude, sugar, and signing up for a six-week course. In anything. These are my vices.
W: Where do you find inspiration?
E: I’m largely motivated by my routines and surroundings, be it architecture or a good conversation. In some form or another, everything around us is the result of a continuous momentum of many choices, and I like thinking about why we make the choices we make and how that both ushers in and reveals our perceived realities. I’m inspired by any kind of work that softens reality for those that encounter it - not because we need euphemisms to stomach the ‘cold hard truth’ but because we need reminding that reality is in fact very soft, as we are constantly engaging in its creation. It’s never too late. While also: You will only do this iteration of reality once, this day and this life. The nuance there informs and frees my current creative practice, and is I guess the aggregated crux of many personal experiences. It’s a bit formless but then again, so is my work. Haha!
W: What is the role of an artist in society?
E: I think art helps us to articulate the cultural phenomena of being alive before we find proper words for it. When you’re connecting with art of any medium you’re basically experiencing this unification between feeling and understanding - empathy - which in turn reframes, reconstellates your subjectivity within a larger collective. Art calls people home again.
W: What is your favourite way to use a Wrappr? Bonus points for originality!
E: I love using the small ones to wrap decks of cards, which are traditionally kept in silk.