By Alli Hayes
Jamie Smith opens the door to THRIVE art studio, revealing its oak wood floors, succulents resting cozily between artwork and paintbrushes, and bright windows that overlook the buzzing heart of Mount Pleasant. After walking into the serene setting of THRIVE, it’s no shock that this safe space is a product of positive inspiration for Vancouver’s artist community, in particular the female mavericks.
“THRIVE is trying to foster this supportive community for females that can then push out work that shows that it’s full and rich; it’s a place for female artists to meet, connect, and learn from one another,” explains Smith.
“I do feel that women artists operate differently, and this studio can offer as a place to go once a month just to check in and keep going, which I know I need.”
Smith’s talents are multi-faceted, with a background in fine arts and a generous dose of travelling and living abroad contributing to her credibility as an artist.
The THRIVE founder and ROVE Art Walk curator put herself in a professional position to launch a studio last year that allows her to pursue her creative drive, while being able to guide others on their own artistic journey right here in her home of Vancouver.
The studio provides multi-dimensional events, services, and workshops that are listed on THRIVE’s website, including the Mastermind, the Monthly Makes (which range from collage nights and image transfer workshops to hosting scheduled private groups), and THRIVE Talks.
“I really like learning more about where a particular art comes from but THRIVE Talks are more about storytelling, the stories of the work the artists make and things they’ve learned along the way, and giving advice to the audience who are practising artists or they’re wanting to go that route and figuring out how to do it,” she explains.
The next THRIVE Talk will feature established artist Eyoalha Baker who is known for her Jump For Joy photo project and photo murals of which she featured 100 photos of people who are literally jumping for joy (her work can be seen on the side of an SRO building on Abbott and Pender).
“Eyoalha’s talk is going to be about why she started the project … it’s a different way of working as an artist, which I find really interesting. Some artists hate the concept of inviting in so many people but it can actually fuel a lot of success.”
Fuelling success comes in many forms at THRIVE, as Smith wishes to provide support and commitment for other female artists through Mastermind, a one year sign-up commitment meant to help members explore business moves and other ways of showcasing their artwork.
“When I was first starting out my artist career I would meet people for coffee all the time, but I realized that not many artists were doing this; they had their own meeting circles and I didn’t really know where I could fit in. I started organizing monthly meet ups for Mastermind and gathered people I knew, and they have found it super useful,” she said.
“We have a Facebook group that we use in between the meet ups, and so if anyone has resources to share or art shows to promote, now you have a circle of supporting peers who you can share that with and you don’t have to convince people to come.”
On top of the regular flow of Mastermind community, members will also get to participate in field trips which will put them in touch with art advisors and consultants, such as art advisor consultant guru Pennylane Shen, who toured a group around the Bau- Xi gallery in South Granville earlier this year.
Shen is a humbled source of experience and expertise on helping an artist find their statement, the niche in their work and where they choose to showcase it.
“Going to Bau- Xi was awesome. For me, it was this experience I never had before. Mastermind is becoming this social group with accountability to always help each other out, some artists have studios in their home, so it’s hard to go out and be proactive with promoting yourself or how to go about it. Especially if you didn’t go to art school here, it’s hard to find people. Most of my close friends are in the building that THRIVE is in, I see them all the time. That’s how you create trust is through these friends, but if you don’t create that bond, it can be awkward,” says Smith.
Smith truly takes pride in the model she has created for Vancouver and her love for art, as a result, the artist is unmistakably motivating.
“What I love about THRIVE so far is that everyone that has come in has been really happy, it’s so small that it attracts people, they don’t walk in here by accident and I have felt so much support.”
Alli is a wildcard. Faux fur is her wingman. She is constantly moved by art, cool parties, and independent film, and continues to create her own projects. She wishes her photographic memory did her Instagram more justice. Check out her blog at http://www.thewildcardwins.com.