Interview with Nadya Edwards

Finding kindred souls along our journey is one of the most satisfying things we have the pleasure of experiencing. This time we’re happy to present to you our friend Nadya, an artist that can usually be found in one of two places. Either nestled in her home- studio covered in paint, ink, glue, or worse— resin, or wandering the globe with a trusty backpack filled with her beloved Nikon, iPhone & travel journal. When she returns home to the forest of Pefferlaw, Ontario, she unpacks the ephemera from her travels which will fervently find its way into her whimsical art.

Her love of reusing found objects like old books, combined with her collection of quotes finally found a home. Words are a strong presence in her work & often invoke a stay-true-to-yourself mantra. When she begins a new piece, she never knows what the message will be, she lets the creative process decide.

Fuelled by loud music, organic coffee & (depending on the time of day) red wine, Nadya continues to grow as an artist, finding beauty in the every day and focusing on the things that truly matter. Now, let’s ask her a couple of questions, shall we?

What inspired you, from an early age, to become a mixed-media artist?

Some of my earliest childhood memories are drawing cartoon figures from the Saturday comics section of the newspaper. I loved to recreate these drawings and colour them, tucking them into my books are hanging them in my bedroom. My favourite time of the year was autumn for back-to-school supply shopping for paper, notebooks and pencil crayons. Today, I am still pulled toward stationery shops throughout my travels. I had a little Kodak camera when I was young, the kind with the 110CN film and flash cubes that I carried around with me. I would beg my parents to print my film so I could put them in little scrapbook-type albums where you could write beneath the photos. So I guess I was scrapbooking back in the 70’s! I started “officially” scrapbooking back in 2003, but the day I glued paper to a canvas, I realized this was something I really wanted to explore.

I am a reformed math teacher that has learned to paint outside the lines. I have been working as an artist for a little over a decade, starting with photography, then finding my true passion in mixed media. My love of travel has allowed me to use my photographs in my art, along with my collection of ephemera and sayings. Resin is a new art form I am exploring and I love how it looks and feels with my photos.

How do you connect your creative process with storytelling?

I have been a word collector for as long as I can remember. Music was my initial motivator. The love of good lyrics, the intimacy in the poetry that would have me madly scribbling down passages of words. I kept those lyrics in binders, along with my thoughts (as an angst-ridden teenager). So words have a strong presence in my work and often invoke a stay-true-to-yourself mantra. As I create my canvases, the music is usually on, very loud, and I think that often what I am listening to finds its way onto the canvas, whether that be in the form of colour, scribbles or quote. Ephemera from my travels makes it way onto my canvases as well as my journals. I love using transit ticket stubs, boarding passes and maps from my travels to incorporate into the layering process. I remember needing to bring home some old, hardcover children’s books I found in a free bin in a fishing museum in Iceland. My patient husband rolled his eyes as he no doubt wondered how I was going to squeeze them into my already full suitcase! So when I start a project, I have this huge catalog of bits & pieces of my life to nestle into my art.

What can you tell us about the method behind your creative process?

I find beauty in the every day and I transform what inspires me into whimsical pieces of art. My method is very intuitive. Unless I am preparing a custom canvas, the colours I choose to start with all depend on the moment at hand, how I am feeling, which combination of colours appeals to me. When I work on a custom piece, I really try to make it unique to that person, be it the style of the dress or the background. For example, I found vintage anatomy drawings to layer into the background of a canvas commissioned by an osteopath. He told me he didn’t discover the drawings for months! As the canvas develops, I start thinking about the clothing (the paper always comes from my scrapbooking stash) and how the colours will relate. The figure forms, the hairstyle & hair colour develop, and it is at this point they tell me what they want to say.

How do you know when a painting is completed?

Sometimes it’s easy, other times I take a photo and send it to my biggest fan & critic — my daughter and ask her!

How did you find yourself collaborating with Garbags and why?

Great story! I was in Lisbon at Christmas with my family. I was out sightseeing with my kids when we wandered into Garbags. I started chatting with the sales clerk about how I loved their use of recycled materials and that I too, reuse & recycle in my art. My daughter pulled up my IG account on my phone because I can’t talk & find things on my phone at the same time! I showed my handmade journals and described how I make them, the deconstruction of the old books, the sewing together of new pages, and creating the covers with used shopping bags. I left the store with my very own Garbags purchase, and a few weeks later I found out that the sales clerk I had been speaking with was actually the CEO of the company! Garbags had never collaborated with an artist and maybe it was through our shared connection of giving things a second life that they decided to reach out to me.

Looking back, is there and artwork you're most proud of? Why? 

I am just really proud when anyone chooses to purchase my work! I really enjoyed working on this project with Garbags. Creating the canvas with the Greta Thunberg quote was fun. I loved using the classic Couto packaging as part of the wings on the girl, and the layering really stands out against the map, patterned paper and book pages in the background.


Instagram: @nadyaedwards