It’s tough to make friends in adulthood. Without the confines of a classroom to force you together, forging new friendship relies on extending out beyond your comfort zone. Enter Vancouver Neatos interviews, where I introduce you to a new face in Vancouver every week (ish). Want to take part? Drop me a line.
Tell us about yourself.
I always have the hardest time answering this question. I always feel like there is so much to boil down. I do a lot of things. My name is Ciele, and I am a maker of things and a creative thinker. I spend a lot of my time making music (under “Ciele”). Right now I am dabbling in writing for electronic producers, but also working on my own music which could be defined as electronic alternative-pop.
When I’m not making music I split my time making art. I am a professional painter, graduating in 2013 with my BFA from UVic, majoring in Visual Arts. I am currently working a lot with my experience of synesthesia; a condition where the stimulation of one sensory pathway leads to automatic, involuntary experiences in a second sensory pathway, for example I experience colour when I hear sound. (Examples and further explanation can be seen here). I also started my own art and design company this year, Honey and Heart Co., which focuses on freelance graphic design and illustration, as well as an etsy shop! I opened up my etsy shop a few months ago, so you can check out some of that either on Etsy or on Instagram. I am currently attending Emily Carr University, getting my 2D Design certificateto brush up some skills, which I will hopefully have completed in the next year.
What drew you to becoming a musician and creator?
Ever since I can remember I have been creating, constantly doing crafts and drawing, and singing at every waking moment. My friends call me the walking jukebox because I often start singing whatever song reference comes to mind based on a single word someone has said. I grew up being very shy, and introverted, and relatively private when it comes to my emotions and feelings, so I found a great space for expression in art, of every medium. I have been striving to make my art my main profession in my adult life because that is what makes me whole. For a few years after graduating university, I was working some minimum wage service jobs and found myself getting really depressed because not only was I broke, working full-time, but I also didn’t have a lot of energy for my creative passions, and what I actually wanted to be doing. So the last three years especially has been a journey of getting to a place where I can work creatively and be more fulfilled in my life doing things I love.
Is there anything that particularly influences or inspires your work?
I’m very influenced by the condition of the human heart, and the way we connect to each other. Ideas of acceptance, diversity, honesty, and the meat of human emotion and what rocks us. In my music I write a lot about the human condition, and from experiences I have been in. I try to be as honest as possible so people can relate to something real. In my art I try to do the same thing but in a bit of a different way. While my music is a bit more serious, my art is bright and poppy, and I use a little dark humor here and there to get my point across about something I’m feeling or an issue that’s important to me. I’m influenced by nostalgia, and being present. By small moments, and quiet conversations. By loud colours, and natural phenomena. By people’s laughter, and by their tears. By the human bond that moves between each and every one of us.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start being an artist?
This advice seems a bit cliché, but honestly you just have to keep working hard and truly believing that you’re on the right path. The arts, in general, can be an “off the beaten path” profession regardless of which creative avenue you’re following, but if you believe it’s what you’re meant to do, and you can find a way to express yourself authentically , than GO FOR IT. I read something a while back that talked about how often times its not about how talented you are at something but how long you committed to doing it, because along the way, no matter what, people will give up, and it’s the people who stuck it through that end up “making it” (whatever that means to you). So, keep at it. Allow yourself days when you simply feel like shit and don’t have energy for anything else, and then pick yourself up the next day, and get back to the hustle. Stay curious, and inspired by the small things around you, and the people you see every day. You don’t have to fly halfway across the world to get inspiration (but if your work takes you traveling, hallelujah! ENJOY IT!) And, most of all, remember to play, to keep things fun, and try not to take yourself too seriously.
What are the biggest challenges for artists? How do you think we can overcome those challenges?
A huge challenge for artists/musicians/freelancers is the common expectation of working for free. Which I think is pretty ridiculous. I’m sure many of you have seen a meme or video on the internet showing what it would look like if you asked professionals in other fields to work for free and how silly that looks. I think in all professions there is a point and time where you are the “student” and you need practice, so sometimes you do it for the experience. I would say in situations like that, if you don’t want to charge money, perhaps it could be an exchange of services with the other individual, or something that makes it an energy exchange versus a financial exchange. At a certain point though, you can’t just be doing jobs for free–you’ll never actually make money if you aren’t charging for your services/paintings/vocal features.
How can we overcome this? It’s such a hard question. If you’re a non-creative person who ever requires the assistance of someone creative, please pay them. Value their time, and skill set, and put a monetary value on it. Creativity isn’t all about monetary gain, but like anything it’s a job and these wonderful, magical, creative people have rent to pay and families to support. If you are a creative type–I want you to think about this. If someone asked you to sit in a room for an hour, doing nothing, how much would that hour be worth to you in dollars? 20? 50? 100? Now try applying that to how long it takes you to make your art, or write a song. I bet the amount is a lot higher than you would arbitrarily charge someone for your craft. Don’t be afraid to charge for your time and your work. You are valuable. You are worth it. You are a unicorn.
Where’s your favorite spot in Vancouver to set up a laptop and get shit done?
I live off Commercial Drive, so within that area, I am a regular at Continental, as well as Moja (which has great tables for setting up camp and working). I also really love Elysian near 7th and Quebec. It’s tucked away, and usually pretty quiet. And Kafka’s on Main and Broadway. I could go on… but I also really love coffee so… that’s a different conversation!
Can you share any resources you’ve found most helpful in your career?
Hm.. a lot of my resources have come from online communities, either through Facebook, or Soundcloud, and even Instagram at times. And most often through the people around me. I haven’t had a lot of outside help from bigger organizations, or grants. One artist I have found particularly inspiring is Lisa Congdon. She is an artist based out of Portland now, and she wrote a book called Art Inc. which I found helpful and a great resource on how to make it as a painter/fine artist especially. Look it up! Also the book “Big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert, if you’re in need of a major pep talk. That book is now highlighted and dog-eared like nobody’s business.
What’s in the works for you right now?
Music-wise, I just released a vibey electronic-pop version of Work by Rihanna (on Soundcloud & Spotify), and am recording a lot of demos at the moment in preparation for an EP of some kind. Art-wise, I am putting together some proposals for art grants and gallery shows, and also creating a new painting series of works based on the discomfort and stress of every day life pressures. And coming up with some new illustrations to add to my Etsy shop!