Art World Expo Artist Spotlight: Simon Martin
by Alyssa Laube
Leaking awesome is a brand new t-shirt printing and design company stationed in Greater Toronto. The project, run by Simon Martin and his brother, had a humble beginning. It didn’t start out as a business venture, but rather a personal medium for self-expression. “To be honest, I just started making shirts for myself,” admitted Simon. “My desire wasn’t to make a business out of it, but people like my shirts, so I decided to sell them.” It seems to be simple as that. Simon received so many compliments on the shirts he designed and wore that he decided to share them with the world. Of course, the first step was to choose a name for the project.
“I went through many different names before coming to Leaking Awesome,” he explained. “One time, I made a Facebook status that read, “I’m leaking awesome,” to say that my awesomeness is just oozing out of me. When looking for names, I thought, “That’s kind of like my shirts.” So I settled on that name.”
Unfortunately, things got a little more complicated after that. Simon had the designs, the demand, the name and the end goal. The only thing he didn’t have was a way to efficiently produce the shirts. Because Leaking Awesome is still a relatively small company, it would be pointless to mass-produce hundreds of the same product. However, for t-shirt printing brands, that’s one of the only ways to do it. As a result of this system, Simon’s been left with a dilemma: deal with the unfitting circumstance of mass-production, or purchase his own machine? Thus, a Kickstarter was born.
“The Kickstarter is for a machine that allows me to create more custom(izable) designs, he said. “Currently, the custom shirts are poor quality, overpriced, and mass-produced. I would like to change that by purchasing a machine that allows them to be high quality, affordable,and personalized.”
To help raise money for this cause, Leaking Awesome will be selling the shirts they have made at Toronto’s Art World Expo. Their starter line-up, which will be released on November 7th, will be the Leaking Awesome’s first official designs. “I gathered from the reactions of those who have seen them that they were the right ones to start the brand with,” responded Simon, about how he chose the first designs. Fans can look forward to some of those posted on the web site, including the most popular twist on Nike’s iconic design, pictured below.
So Leaking Awesome is definitely on the right track; they just need a little bit of help to get to their destination. As it is, the company is just Simon and his brother. Although the company does have help from volunteers ranging from videographers to models, they participate out of their own good will. “People help because they like the clothes and believe in Leaking Awesome,” Simon added, and when it all comes down to it, that’s why he’s there, too.
“The goal with Leaking Awesome is to grow. If that means opening a store, awesome. But if it’s just giving a few people some cool t-shirts, I’m happy with that.”
by Alyssa Laube
For Ashley Vieira, working as a make up artist is all about instilling confidence in others. As a teenager, she eagerly anticipated any opportunity she had to get dolled up, whether it was for a bridal party or prom. Every time she saw herself in the artist’s chair, her “confidence levels skyrocketed.” That feeling is what inspired her to practice make up professionally. “If I was able to feel that strongly about myself, I knew I wanted to make others feel the same way. I’m happy to say that I have accomplished that with some of my clients,” she explained.
However, those clients aren’t all looking to be beautified. Vieira, who runs Smash Beauty & SPFX, also works extensively with special effects. Some of her most fascinating creations are gruesome and otherworldly, which she admits spawn from her obsession with prosthetic wounds.
“I love doing various things with prosthetics. However, I think my favourite thing to create currently is making small prosthetic wounds and putting them on little kids. Now hear me out, that sounds disturbing, but I actually get hired to do this at large events,” she laughed. “Both the kids and parents love how twisted it is, because who the heck expects to see a booth at a family event doing this? And yes, I layer on that blood. I swear, it’s all in good fun,” she promised. “Nothing Dexter inspired.”
Sure, there’s nothing menacing about Ashley’s morbid interests, but that doesn’t mean that it stops at prosthetic wounds. She also has a soft spot for skeletons, or more specifically, Dia de los Muertos Sugarskulls (Day of the Dead). Although she’s reluctant to admit it, Dia de los Muertos always ends up sneaking into her style in one way or another. Vieira says that it’s the “crazy amount of details” that she found so exciting, saying, “I love colours, patterns, dots, and skeletons. It just made sense to incorporate that into my art. I keep thinking that I will eventually get bored with it but it keeps popping up in my work and my details only get more intricate!”
The combination of her skill as a make up and special effects artist is what allows Ashley to leave her mark in the beauty world. Seeing things from a “contrasting perspective” is what makes her special. “My knowledge from one helps me understand what I’m lacking in another. That’s what helps me turn my first concept into something much larger, ending with a big bang,” she explained.
At this year’s Art World Expo in Toronto, she’ll be showcasing these talents in the body painting competition. Her plan is to create a hybrid version of The Little Mermaid, crossing Disney’s and Hans Christian Andersen’s versions of the iconic figure. And of course, there has to be “an Ashley twist somewhere in there.”
It seems that the “Ashley twist” is putting a creepy spin on cute figures, which certainly makes make up artistry more interesting. Of course, Vieira feels the same way. “One day I can be making someone extremely beautiful, the next day I can be ‘killing’ that very same person/character and drenching them in blood,” she said. “At the end of the week, it all evens out. Never a dull moment!”
By Alyssa Laube
“The genre of pop has always been natural to me,” said musician Indigo, who will be performing at the Art World Expo in Toronto’s Hard Rock Cafe this year. “This isn’t a surprise considering I grew up in the 90’s and 2000’s when pop, R&B and hip-hop were dominating the music world.” Certainly, the powerhouse songstresses of that time can be heard in her songs, ranging from the lively hooks of Madonna and the Spice Girls to the soulful crooning of Christina Aguilera and Alicia Keys. As a matter of fact, Indigo seems to emulate the charm of bubblegum pop’s poster child, Britney Spears. It’s the upbeat sound combined with the darling image that evokes images of America’s (ex) sweetheart, but although the parallel can be made, Indigo brings something fresh to the table. Like Britney, she’s a solo act who describes herself as “flexible” when it comes to who she works with, but all-in-all, she’s more involved, unprocessed, and authentic. Basically, every Indigo original starts and ends with her. Along the way, fellow musicians and producers may lend a helping hand, but at the end of the day, it all comes back to Indigo.
Although she’s a true indie artist, her live shows (such as the one that will be taking place at the Hard Rock) are played with a three-piece backing band. James Karfilis, “a good friend and an incredible artist with many creative projects on-the-go,” plays guitar, sings backup, and helps co-write. Ben Müller, the bassist, and Bradley Connor, the drummer, joined Indigo on stage together with their talent, musicianship, and admirable stage presence at hand. For Indigo, who “looks for heart, commitment, and drive in people,” this was exactly what she needed. The trio gives her shows a full sound and a high, positive energy. It’s the group’s expertise and friendly dynamic that promises a good night out of any Indigo performance, which usually consists of both originals and cover songs.
“Throw back tunes are a great way to connect with the audience because it’s speeds up the process of getting them comfortable with the band,” said Indigo, about her choice of covers. “It hits a nerve that makes them want to dance or sing along. For a performer, that’s the dream!”
Rather, that’s one of the dreams. Another one of Indigo’s is to publish an EP, but it will soon become a reality. The five-song record, entitled Child, is being released track-by-track (and two are available on iTunes already), but will be “re-released as a collection eventually”.
“All five tracks follow a chronological story, but due to money and time, I’ve had to spread them out over the years. I’m learning as I go and it’s taking me longer than expected, but in the end, I’m more interested in quality over quantity. I have another four to five song EP in mind for the future, once Child is completed.”
When it comes to inspiration for the albums, Indigo takes from the little things in life. “Honing on on every single detail” and taking notes on the interesting parts of overheard conversations has inspired many songs for the artist, but she was also heavily influenced by her childhood.
“My parents listened to a lot of world music when I was a wee one,” she recollected. “My dad played the Arabic tabla and the didgeridoo, and my mom was a professional belly-dancer. She took a couple of qanun lessons and they always had tambourines hanging on the walls. Growing up, I didn’t know how unique my childhood really was, but now, I see how lucky I was to be introduced to such exotic sounds and visuals so early on. I used a didgeridoo in the first four bars of ‘Mercury Retrograde’, not only because I think it sounds cool and works with the song, but also as a shout out to my dad. As an artist, I naturally gravitate towards those familiar sounds and I intend on incorporating them into my work in the future. It keeps me grounded and feels like home.”
Hopefully, these sounds will be heard on the upcoming releases. The trademark of most pop songs is that they’re somewhat formulaic, so the addition of an uncommon rhythm or instrument would undoubtedly give Indigo the upper hand. For now, she can use her tender (but powerful) vocals and admirable songwriting chops to gather crowds, including the show at the Hard Rock.
“The venue is a huge draw for people – it’s a household name that’s reliable. About two years ago, I was watching other artists play on that very stage and thought to myself, ‘It must feel great to be up there,’” she reminisced. “Now, it’s my turn.”
Visit her website to listen and learn more about Indigo!
Photo credit: Madelayne Hajek