If you’ve been following our social media channels lately, you’ll know how thrilled we are to have just released our Explore Art NL app, which lets art lovers explore over 100 pieces of public art throughout Newfoundland and Labrador. (For information on how to download the free app, and more on its cool features, click here.)
To help promote and celebrate the new app, we partnered with Genesis St. John’s to commission the Genesis GV80 Art Car – a beautiful and whimsical piece of public art in its own right, brought to life by local artist Vanessa Iddon. An illustrator and designer at Perfect Day in St. John’s, Vanessa has also contributed to St. Michael’s Printshop as a board member and recently completed a personal project where she produced and shared a piece of art online every day for 1,460 days via Instagram (@vanessa_iddon).
You can spot the Art Car featuring Vanessa’s beautiful work until the end of October. (If you spot it, snap a picture and tag Business & Arts NL on social media! We’re also running a contest where you can win a $100 Craft Council of NL gift certificate – visit us over on Instagram for details.)
We recently chatted with Vanessa about her design (as you’ll discover, there’s more to it than meets the eye), what it’s like to see it out and about in the world, and how she keeps her creative tank flowing.
Business & Arts NL: For some people, creativity is something that seems to come naturally while for others, they may feel like they have to put in some extra effort to be able to flex those creative muscles. Have you always considered yourself to be a creative person? I understand you also work as an illustrator and designer at Perfect Day. Was there ever any doubt that you would end up in a creative field professionally?
Vanessa Iddon: I’ve always been a very visual person, and as such have tried to process the world around me through my creativity. I think most of the time my creative voice is my strongest asset in communicating with others. I often feel misunderstood, or doubt myself in other aspects of my life, but I never doubt my ability to create and make something. My varied interests, including illustration, science, biology, carpentry, film, and crafts (and on and on) have all strengthened that creative voice.
I’ve also always been fascinated with the physical process of making things with my own two hands, and that curiosity has helped me learn how to problem solve. This has translated into a career in design where we work with clients who come to us with a communication problem to solve. We then develop creative solutions to deliver those messages, and ultimately help them meet their goals. So, no, no doubt I would end up in a creative industry.
Business & Arts NL: You also had a personal project whereby you created and shared a piece of art online via Instagram every day for four years – that’s impressive! What do you do to work through creative blocks, and is there anything special you do to refill your creative tank if you feel like you’re running out of inspiration/ideas?
VI: Thank you! I think looking back now, the biggest thing my Create Every Day project helped me learn was how to overcome that “blank page” fear. I had to practice very hard to pull something out of that creative brain every day, and it became an exercise in self-trust. Every idea was a seed. I would just follow each seed’s trail. Eventually I got very good at grabbing the most inconsequential inspirations from my day, and molding those into something more interesting. Oh, the moss pattern on that tree looks like lace—can I replicate that? I had an endoscopy procedure today—can I make that art? My creative working process improved massively, and it has helped me professionally as a graphic designer as well. I know to just dive in and trust myself. The rest will work itself out.
Business & Arts NL: The Genesis QV80 Art Car that you designed is beautiful! How did you land on that particular design? Were there many other ideas you were kicking around? Did the canvas (a car) factor into your decision of which design to go with?
VI: I’ve actually explored the theme of personified plant life before. There’s something fascinating in that all living things, plants and animals, are connected from a cellular level. And what better way to play with that idea than creating a garden that is alive with flora and fauna made from human-inspired shapes: eyes, tongues, intestines, etc. There is also this message of opening our eyes to absurdity and recognizing the joy in weirdness. This design felt like such a contrast to the cold metal of a car, and that unexpectedness would catch people’s eyes driving by.
Business & Arts NL: What’s your favourite part of the design?
VI: For me, I love the unexpectedly unusual. Designs and illustrations that have double meaning, or playing with shapes that appear as one thing, but communicate something else. So I love the way the eyes and body parts can be incorporated into plant forms in such a fun and vibrant way. People might not realize that the inchworm is an intestine, but isn’t it such a cute gut worm once you know? Ha!
Business & Arts NL: Have you gotten any feedback from others who have spotted the car driving around town? Have you spotted it yourself? It must be pretty cool to see your art out and about!
VI: I’ve been getting amazing feedback from everyone! I think it’s made a lot of people smile, or at least made them stop and have a think about what they’re looking at. I’m happy to bring some attention to such a cool initiative from BANL with the Explore Art NL app. As a designer and visual artist, I will NEVER get tired of seeing something I made out in the world. Nothing could make me happier.