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Meet the Maker Month: Tricia of Tricia Robinson Illustration

My name is Tricia Robinson and I live in Montreal. I'm a self-taught illustrator but also fiercely care about the rights of workers and my community. I often merge my illustration and community care together, sometimes in serious, but often in humorous ways.

How did you come to create political art? I used to keep the two entirely separate. I felt that people would withdraw from my work if I politicized it. But then I realized because that is such an important part of me, WHY wouldn't the two be merged? Behind any social and economic justice causes, there are SO MANY powerful art pieces by so many amazing artists and activists. I feel proud to contribute to some important conversations in a style that reflects me.

What gear do you like to use? Primarily I'm using an iPad and Apple pencil, but I dabble in painting too!

Any future art prospects coming your way? Every time I do an in-person event or I'm posting online, I get so many folks that say "do you tattoo? / you should tattoo! / I would so get this tattooed!" - So in 2022, I'm really going to focus on making this a reality. It would be an honor to take my art to that level and share it with folks in this way.

What does being a Maker mean to you? This is a tough one. On one side, being creative, making my and others’ ideas come to life is such a special feeling. But underlining that will always be the thought in the background of how I can monetize my "hobby" or "skill". I don't want to be a rich bitch by any means, but this is my profession now and I live in a capitalist economy and need to survive. I try to draw lines in between this, but of course, it gets fuzzy. We're all trying our best.

What motivates you to create? My rage hahaha. Honestly, when I'm frustrated with something, someone, anything, I usually channel it into art. Sometimes it's funny, sometimes it's darker I suppose. But I've got a lot of rage these days. We've got loads to be mad about it. I gotta put it somewhere I suppose. I use humor as a coping mechanism too, which is why you'll find humor in my ideas.

How have you developed your skills? Loads of practice, learning from pals, GUESSING, and taking leaps of faith. That's about it, really. I worked really hard to be where I am.

Where are you from and how does that influence your work? I'm from a small town in Ontario. Haven't lived there in over a decade though. I suppose it influences my work? I was a little young punk there. That's where my political ideas started to take root. My rage might be from there too hahaha.

How have your life experiences shaped your art? Did I mention my rage? Haha - In all honesty, experiencing and witnessing the mistreatment of workers, and abuse by those in power over you have ultimately shaped my art. Survival has also shaped it. Creating felt like something practical to do for so many reasons: to channel difficult emotions, to create pieces that I care deeply about and strike conversations I think are important, to make people laugh, to build a coping mechanism, etc. I think I was pretty determined to also be my own boss and enjoy what I do on day 1. I've never had a better boss than myself.

How has the pandemic impacted your creativity? OUF - Well at first I wasn't sure what I was going to do financially. I felt an URGE so deep to create as much as I could to protect myself. I felt an urge to collaborate with my other artist pals whose worlds were being tipped upside down too. It was very confusing, creating for survival. I felt like I had this intense momentum to figure it all out right away. I've created A LOT. I still don't know what parts of that are good or bad.

How do you apply your creativity to other aspects of your life? Hmmm, well I love to cook. Flavor palettes are amazing to work with! I also love to write and play guitar and sing. I haven't done too much of the latter during the pandemic, but it's been on my mind a lot these days. Who knows what's next.

What themes do you pursue in your work? Humour is a consistent one for sure. Lots of pro-labor, pro-union, pro-worker themes. I think there's an element of boldness that I'm able to communicate but it's quite palpable because of the humorous elements I've added. At the same time, who knows? My favorite thing is learning how others perceive my work.

What is your favorite thing you've created and why? OH boy, I guess probably my pro-union stuff. I can't just choose one. The conversations it has sparked up have been pretty great.

Tell us about your first sale When I was a kid, I used to sew Kool-Aid jammer wallets with dental floss. People still remind me about that!

What is your dream project? Probably either a huge art project surrounding the labor movement OR a videogame. What about a video game about the labor movement (HIT ME UP, PALS!)

Do you accept commissions? My books are usually open!

What type of art do you like to consume? EVERYTHING! Music, movies, other visual artists, photography, those creative ideas that stop you in your tracks to say "WOW I WISH I HAD THOUGHT OF THAT!!!" - Also fashion. People are so beautiful. Montreal, you are WELL DRESSED and SMOKIN'.

Describe your creative process This really varies for me. Sometimes I stop working on something and revisit it in weeks, months, even years! Often though, I get really obsessed with an idea. I don't want to stand, move, drink, eat until it's done. I'm glad I work from home, you all don't wanna see this haha.

How do your interests shift from one project to the next? This really varies as well. It depends on how interesting the project is, what is my level of obsession, what is my external environment like at that moment. I drop loads of personal projects, but I don't beat myself up about that. It's pretty normal to do. But sometimes I really have to push myself to complete something else because my energy isn't there anymore. It's ever-changing!

Describe your latest project I'm working on an illustrated zine on censorship. There's humor to it, but I'm hoping to have some writing on the history of censorship in art, censorship in other professions (music, office settings, sex work, etc) - It was inspired on the fact that social media outlets started shadowbanning me because I was illustrating B00B$. It had a pretty huge impact on my organic reach. Also hearing similar stories from other artists and pals.

How do you know when you've finished a project? I usually have a pretty clear goal in mind of what the finished product looks like. I know I'm done because I obsess about finishing it because I'm excited for that moment.

What are your long-term goals? Tattooing and collaborating with other artists - Continue doing what I'm doing - Do some illustrative work for labor efforts.

What steps are you taking to ensure your growth as a maker? I've gotten pretty organized on developing plans and sticking to them. On top of that, I find networking with other creatives is KEY. That's been hard over the pandemic, but I think I'm making it work.

What inspires you? Community, people, myself? The amazing accomplishments organized community and people have come together to achieve positive change through whatever means. Also learning to create for myself. I can't make everyone like the work I do, but I can get pretty damn close to liking all the work that I do.

What initially drew you to your craft? I felt best when I was creating. I never imagined it as a career because of the voices in your head saying "you're not good enough to do this". I learned to ignore them or at least reply "so what?"

What three adjectives would you use to describe your work? Difficult, bizarre, class (I used an adjective generator from the internet to choose these because I have no idea otherwise, hahaha. How did it do?)

What story do you want to tell with your work? The moment I realized I could turn this into my career is when my cat Kevin Bacon got really sick. We couldn't afford the vet bills, and so I created an illustration of Kevin Bacon (the actor) with cat ears, and it said "Save Kevin Bacon". The money raised from it helped save my cat (he's 12 now!).

Why are humans creative? I don't think there's a simple answer to this. I guess it depends on your intentions and your emotions. Humans are complex and we're capable of so much. I think creativity is inherently in our brains from birth. Our environments shape what we do (or don't do) with that. Creativity is there for anyone and everyone. But what is fueling it for some? What is blocking it for others?

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