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Artist of the Month: Keenan Sillence

Local artist Keenan Sillence sits in front of his mural inside the Jasper Aquatic Centre. | Supplied photo

Marianne Garrah | Special to the Fitzhugh

When did you start creating?

I’ve enjoyed creating and drawing since I was quite young. Some of my earliest memories are of drawing monster trucks for my friends in Grade 3. Since then, I’ve been on and off working on personal projects, digital illustrations, graphic design, stickers and most recently a couple murals here in Jasper. 

What medium do you work in?

Most of my designs start as a sketch or rough idea before taking them to my iPad where I refine and polish. I like how quickly you can test ideas and color schemes digitally. I jump between Adobe Illustrator, Fresco and Procreate. 

Mentors? What was the best piece of advice you were given?

I don’t have any mentors at the moment, but I look up to artists like Tristan Eaton, Shepard Fairey and Smitheone. I’m not sure I remember where I heard this, but I keep it close to heart. The saying goes like this, “The only raw talent a creative has is their need to create. All other skills can be practiced and improved upon.” 

Has your practice changed over the years?

The biggest change for me was learning to use programs like illustrator. It opened my mind to what was possible and allowed for a certain level of precision I was craving in my work.

Where would you like to see your art take you?

I’d love to do creative work full-time and find some harmonies between my trade skills, business education background and my creative endeavours. Looking to bridge those gaps over the coming years.

What is most rewarding about your work?

My process can be frustrating and tedious sometimes. But what I find most rewarding is when I’ve made a small breakthrough in an idea or concept I’ve been testing and in turn am rewarded with a new direction in my design. After enough small victories, the project comes to an end and I am able to enjoy the finished product.  

What do you dislike about your work?

I dislike that I don’t practice enough… running my painting business takes up most of my energy. Sitting down after work to put something down on paper is tough… not to mention something good. It’s hard to find a good balance and I feel as if a lot of my creative work hours are being wasted elsewhere. 

What is your dream project?

I’d love to do more murals, and a dream would be to do one at a mural festival in Tokyo.

What wouldn’t you do without?

A good pair of pants. Kuhl makes these pants called Free Ryders with this twill fabric that fades and wears nicely over time. I wear them almost everyday and think they’re one of my favorite pieces of clothing. 

Best piece of advice you would give to someone starting out?

In some ways I’m also just starting out. But I’d say just execute on your ideas as much as you can. Share your ideas and laugh at your mistakes. Good things will happen.

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