IN MY ZONE
subject 1: jacob SWITZER - MUSICIAN
WHERE ARE WE RIGHT NOW?
“I call it the “back house” usually, but this is where I record and where I chill, and sometimes sleep.”
IS THIS WHERE YOU FEEL THE MOST CREATIVE?
“I’d say yes. I can sort of get away from everything back here. It’s a small space and it’s all packed full of my stuff. I have an old computer here from when I was kid and I sometimes play “Buzz Lightyear” games on it when I need to take a break from things. Nostalgia is something that makes me feel creative, so it’s nice to have some old stuff back here that reminds me of my childhood.”
WHAT’S THE IMPORTANCE OF HAVING A SPACE LIKE THIS?
“Well like I just said, it allows me to get away from everything. I still live with my parents, so it’s hard to be singing about stuff that is sometimes really honest and weird when there’s people around in the house. That can go for anyone who also has roommates, so I think it’s important to have a space where you can be alone if that’s something that you need which in my case I do.”
“- as an artist it’s important to be able to experiment in a space where you feel comfortable and there’s no one around to judge you. You can literally f**k up as many times as you want, play around, and create new sounds.”
WHAT IS YOUR PROCESS LIKE WHEN IT COMES TO CREATING SOMETHING?
“Usually the recording of a song comes when everything is 100 percent set. The writing of the song tends to happen in a bunch of different places. I’ll come up with a chord progression somewhere and then I’ll come up with some lyrics somewhere else. Another day I’ll be somewhere and a chorus will come to me that happens to fit in that song. From there once it’s all put together, I’ll come here and enter my creative zone.”
HAVE YOU WRITTEN A LOT OF SONGS HERE?
“Back here? Ya I have written a lot of songs here. Like I said before, since I’m all alone in this space I’ve gotten some really wacky sounds and it’s gotten weird. For my last project “Jacuzzi 23,” I recorded most of it at my friend Antoni’s house, but I did all of the mixing and some recording here.”
SUBJECT 2: WENTING LI - VISUAL ARTIST
WHERE ARE WE RIGHT NOW?
“We are inside 401 Richmond, which is a historical industrial building in Toronto that has been revamped into creative spaces. I have a studio here through my school. I graduated from OCAD in May of 2017. It’s a shared studio space with a bunch of other graduates from the Illustration program and this is my corner! It’s pretty messy.”
HOW OFTEN ARE YOU HERE?
“I’m here every day that I’m not at my retail job. I’m also often here on weekends because I have a bit of a weird schedule. Since I only have this space for a limited time, I want to make as much use out of it as I can. It’s also just nice to come in here every day because then it becomes a good routine for being ready to work at any time. I’ve been lucky these past few months to have enough work so that I have to come in all the time.”
DO YOU FEEL AS THOUGH A SPACE LIKE THIS FUELS YOUR CREATIVITY?
“For sure. It’s really great to have a space that is dedicated to work. When you get in here, you get in the mindset that you’re here to do your job. It really helps with that. I think that working at home can be difficult because everything blends together. It’s hard to do work in a space that isn’t dedicated for creating.”
DO YOU GO THROUGH A CERTAIN PROCESS WHEN IT COMES TO CREATING A PIECE OF ART?
“When it comes to an editorial piece, I’ll try and get either the rough draft, article or idea that they want me to explore. If there’s reading material, I’ll try and read that a few times and sort of distill what the concept I want to focus on is. That’s usually the first thing. From there I’ll start to draw through ideas, I’ve found that it’s really helpful to draw through a problems as well because if you keep drawing you usually get somewhere. Drawing helps as a way to think for me, so when I’m drawing things my mind is making connections. It helps me to come up with concepts and metaphors. You also have to make sure that you take some breaks from time to time.”
WHEN YOU’RE OUTSIDE OF THE STUDIO, DO IDEAS COME TO YOU NATURALLY OR ARE YOU CONSCIOUSLY THINKING ABOUT IT?
“I feel like it’s definitely a bit of both. I do try to sit down and have conscious brainstorming sessions, but also sometimes things just hit you which is even better. I also find that just being involved in different things outside the studio, whether it be going to a show or just hanging out with friends can help fuel your creativity as well. I think it’s important to try and be a person while also having your creative work. When I’m just working, it’s easy to get exhausted by it. Even if all you’re doing is drawing.”
I NOTICED THAT YOU HAVE A LOT OF YOUR OWN ARTWORK AND OTHER PIECES SURROUNDING YOU IN YOUR SPACE, IS THAT SOMETHING THAT’S IMPORTANT TO YOU?
“Ya I think it just happens. This space used to be pristine and I’m just really messy, so I collect a lot of things and so they’ll just find their way here. I have a space at home that’s even worse. I have a desk at home and the wall in front of it is just completely covered with things that I’ve stuck to it. This is nothing compared to there, but ya, working in a completely clean space doesn’t feel natural to me. It’s nice to sit down in a space that’s filled with objects that are visually interesting.”
HOW IMPORTANT HAS THIS SPACE BEEN FOR YOU?
“I don’t think I’d be at this point in my career if I didn’t have this studio. It would have been harder to stay focused. I probably would have been living at home. I moved out so that I could make better use of this studio and be downtown. I think that just being in this environment has been really helpful. Having a professional space makes you feel like more of a professional. It keeps you constantly thinking about what you should be doing next and what you need to be working on. I also have studio mates here, which is really great because they’re doing these things that make me want to push myself more and they work in slightly adjacent areas of what I do so that enables me to expand my views of what's possible. I’d be a really different person if I was working out of my home and didn’t have this space.”
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