I’ve been tossing around the idea of doing a series of interviews with some lovely creative types I want to share with you. Since I’m heading to Alberta this summer maybe I have gold rush on my mind, but truly, each of the women I’ll feature here is a golden nugget of excellence in the career she’s carved out for herself! Therefore, I am delighted to present the inaugural:
Pocket Alchemy Nugget of Awesome Interviews: eight interviews with eight inspiring, artistic, self-starting women over the eight weeks of summer. I am proud to call each of them friend and am delighted to share them and their work here. Please note that I am replacing my regular Rearview Fridays posts with these interviews over the summer.
BESS CALLARD and I were students together at The School of Toronto Dance Theatre. We were in different years but I remember watching Bess dance. She had a simple, efficient, calm and sophisticated way of interpreting, she was arresting yet subtle. I think those qualities have travelled with her into her graphic design work. Her charming custom name art graces my sons’ room and her Everyday Objects Calendar graces my kitchen wall, giving me a smile as I walk by and reminding me ever-so-pleasingly of the date. Bess’ blog offered inspiration in my own blogging start up, and I am excited to see how she and shifted from one professional artistic passion to another while negotiating independent work in the midst of early motherhood.
Bess Callard is an illustrator, graphic designer, and sometimes dancer. In 2006, after a successful career in contemporary dance, she began the transition to the world of design.
Going back to school to pursue her new passion, Bess attended The School of Design at George Brown College in Toronto before she had the opportunity to move to Europe. Bess spent three years living in Vienna and travelling throughout Europe.
While living abroad Bess found she had the time and freedom to explore what she was most passionate about and founded her children’s illustration company, English Muffin. English Muffin offers beautiful, fun and educational prints and posters for kids. It was through this venture that she honed her skills as an illustrator and made her initial foray into entrepreneurship.
Upon returning to Canada, Bess was offered the opportunity to illustrate for the online magazine Pure Green Magazine. Since then the magazine has made the leap to print and Bess is an integral part of the design team. Pure Green Magazine is available across Canada, the US and Europe and currently publishing its third volume in print.
Originally from Toronto, Bess is currently living with her husband, new baby boy and miniature pinscher in Montréal.
Pocket Alchemy Question: Tell me about your artistic work.
Bess Callard: I am an illustrator and graphic designer. I create prints and posters for my children’s illustration company and illustrate for a quarterly publication, Pure Green Magazine.
PAQ: what is currently sparking your imagination?
BC: I recently had a baby boy and find my inspiration and imagination wrapped up in him. It’s a joy to watch him discover the world around him and I love the adventures he takes me on. As a parent I don’t think one can help but see the world through the eyes of your child, the beauty in the simplicity of colours, shapes and patterns is something we’re both very interested in these days.
PAQ: How do you structure and manage your days/weeks/months to get it all in? Do you have micro/macro plans that you stick to?
BC: Oh, Susan, what a question for a new mom! I used to work off of a handwritten daily to do list, I’ve tried online to do lists (my favourite being Teux Deux) but there’s just something about being able to make changes on the fly and apply my own scribbles and notes as the day goes on that I can’t let go of, and, crossing things off is the best part. I would have long-term plans, projects I’d like to accomplish and goals for the shop. It is really important to have at least the next three months planned out when working in an industry where seasonal holidays and themes are so important. These days however, my son Edwin is my fulltime job, and I try to take care of small projects while he’s napping or asleep for the night. It really is a one-day-at-a-time operation around here now.
PAQ: What is a current favourite resource or material?
BC: I love the paper I print on. It took me a long time to find 100% recycled paper suitable for high quality printing, but I did it! The texture, look and feel are just perfect for printing English Muffin prints on.
PAQ: Give me 4 great songs to work to!
BC: These ones are on my “get your butt in gear” playlist:
Your Easy Lovin’ Ain’t Pleasin’ Nothin’ by Mayer Hawthorne | In Spirit Golden by I Blame Coco | Dog Days Are Over by Florence + The Machine | Dance Dance Dance by Lykke Li
PAQ: What about your work keeps you up at night (for good or ill!)?
BC: I love a new project and the anticipation of starting work on something new is usually what will keep my mind busy as I’m trying to fall asleep. Figuring out a tricky design problem or thinking about how best to convey an idea, especially when I’m working on layouts or illustrations for Pure Green Magazine, will also keep me up.
PAQ: How has your aesthetic evolved over the years?
BC: I think it has evolved to become more “me”. As I’ve gotten older I’ve gotten braver and more confident in expressing my voice and ideas. I’m less concerned with what’s “on trend”, and what others in my field are doing. It’s great to be inspired by your contemporaries but I’ve found that my favourite illustrators and designers are the ones that have developed their own style. I strive to stay as true to my own artistic voice as possible.
THE WRAP UP
There you go, Bess Callard/English Muffin, a solid favouite! Bess’s English Muffin blog is so worth following — I particularly enjoy her recurring perfect pairs. Check out her work in Pure Green Magazine (and support a new magazine, hurray!) or look to her shop for wonderful maps, prints and custom name art using her original alphabet.
The English Muffin Shop on Etsy
Facebook: English Muffin
Check out the other Nugget of Awesome Interviews: