Artist Interviews 2022
By Johnny Otto
You were born and raised in Montreal, Canada. Did you attend art school there or are you self taught? Tell us about your early life and how you got started painting.
Yes, I was born and raised in Montreal but I also grew up traveling a lot. My mother is an artist working on American films/television shows and my dad works in furniture distribution/real estate. My mind has always been a flowing river of thoughts and dreams. I began painting in highschool as an outlet to help me master my focus and become centered. Growing up I was always caught in a duality between following in the footsteps of my mom or my dad. I ended up going to college and though I always had a strong calling inside towards art but I decided to get my Bachelors in business administration with a marketing major. Upon graduation my path led me to working in pharmaceutical sales for multiple companies, I quickly became promoted to one of the top sales reps in my company yet I was still craving something more. In between two big contracts and a lot of clinical research, I found myself needing to disconnect. I had a studio in which I was holding art parties. At one of the parties I painted my first ice cream cone which has evolved to become one of my signature designs. My first series of three works entitled Pop Art Cones were reserved for an auction at the fine art museum of Montreal. I believe in the power of art to help others. Which I was able to do with proceeds from my first auction going towards Miriam’s Foundation to help children with autism.
Who are some of your major influences and why?
One of my elective programs in school was an art history course. It was there that I first discovered Andy Warhol and his work immediately resonated with me. I found it very interesting because he was one of the first to really experiment with pop art and repetition of design exploring multiple variations of the same concept using different colorways/media.
This inspired my decision to make a name for myself by focusing on creating iconic pop art that can be enjoyed by diverse viewers of all ages. I developed a brand around my art using elements of minimalism, color, movement, different tools, textures, and mediums. My other art influences mainly come through life experience and the use of it as a form of free self expression.
Was there a big culture shock when you moved to Los Angeles? How are the two cities, Montreal and LA, different and how are they in some ways the same?
No, I didn't really experience a culture shock because I had already been traveling for around ten years between L.A. and Montreal. Although moving to another country always entails a lot of courage, adaptation, awareness, and openness. The main difference is that Montreal is a small city that fosters a close knit community of citizens caring for each other, Los Angeles to the uninitiated can seem like a place of unbridled individualism where everyone is out for themselves. However, once you settle in and get to know the city it unfolds in many amazing ways. L.A. is a secret hub of wonderful artists that is constantly growing and I am thankful for all of the artists that have become like family.
You had a residency at the Dream Hotel in Hollywood in 2020. How did that come about and can you share what that experience was like?
It was summer 2019, I was vacationing in L.A. which was my first time staying at The Dream Hotel in Hollywood. As I was walking on Selma heading to my morning workout at Equinox I came upon a mural being painted by the artists @mego_streetart and @robbydevine. They were painting a spiritual chakra mural on a famous recording studio down the street from the hotel. I was attracted to the mural because in addition to being a fulltime artist, I am also an internationally certified yoga instructor. Robby climbed down from the scaffolding to greet me because he noticed the paint on my shoes from when I was painting earlier. We struck up a conversation about art and he invited me to showcase my work at Art Hearts Fashion (which is the largest platform for fashion week in Los Angeles.)
One of the attendees at the show was so impressed with my Pop Art Cones that he asked Robby and his co-curator Leo Feroleto @sixsummitgallery for a private viewing of my works. I set up my art in the lobby of The Dream for the showing. At that exact moment the GM Vaughn Davis happened to be passing by and was immediately enamored with my artworks as well. He spoke to me about the opportunity of being in charge of the art department of the venue. I created many different decks of projects and ideas about how I would curate art in the Hotel. A year later, I was the first person to get the position of “Artist in Residency” at this location.
This was during the height of the pandemic which was a very strange time for hotels because they were only allowed a very limited number of local guests due to restrictions put in place by the city. I decided to hold live painting events in the lobby where it was safe and fun for guests and passersby to enjoy the show. The residency was such a success that they extended it for several more months.
It is interesting to see you paint in a variety of styles and techniques. Your 'Pop Art Cones' are fun, poppy, color pieces dedicated to our favorite frozen delight and then you also create pixelated NFT’S for your 'Crypto Queen Artist' Collection on Opensea, and you also have some incredible abstract paintings. What drives you to be so varied and is there one style that you enjoy creating more than the other?
I have always been very inquisitive and I am constantly on the search for new discoveries. My exploration leads me to experiment with different styles/mediums.
I feel that I am an innovator and in our ever changing society it is important for artists to adapt and be on the cutting edge of technology/social trends.
I try to anticipate and respond to the viewers’ needs and differing tastes by adding variety while diversifying my portfolio. Although I was very glad the art community recognized my Pop Art Cones in the beginning,
I didn’t want to limit myself to one design so I created my Polar Abstract series which allowed me to develop into working in neutral earth tones, black&white, and grayscales.
The NFTs were a real learning experience. I basically had no idea what I was getting into so I partnered with a co-creator experienced in the field.
I minted the whole collection three months ago on Opensea where you can currently collect your very own limited edition of 100 pixelated NFT @CryptoQueenArtist
Your work is collected by NFL Players, Rappers, Filmmakers and other Celebrities. Are you showing your work in galleries or has all the attention come through Social Media?
In addition to the aforementioned shows I have also displayed my art through open houses with one of L.A. 's top real estate agents, collaborations with various Cannabis companies, a restaurant on Melrose, fashion brands, and a tech company.
Along the way I have garnered a lot of attention through my social media platforms which made me want to take it more seriously. I think it is imperative for artists to invest in themselves/personal brand and make the most of platforms available i.e. Instagram, TikTOk etc.
Producer, Edward Mcgurn
Which artist would you love to collaborate with and why?
I have to say my number one would be Basquiat if he was still with us. I also would love to collaborate with Takashi Murakami among many other upcoming artist friends of mine.
What is on the radar for the next year or so? What are your plans? Any shows or art fairs?
I am currently working on many exciting projects. I just started painting a live mural for a Postmates campaign with the well known creative brand agency Mind Medium. I will be displaying my art at Los Angeles Swim Week. I am also in the process of designing another mural for the legendary Andaz Hotel on Sunset Boulevard. I plan on showing a special collection at Art Basel later this year.
You can follow my art adventures @MarilyVaillancourt on instagram or at www.marilyvaillancourt.com for more details.