“Believe in yourself. If you don’t, who will?”
When you first meet Sylvia, you immediately get a sense of how passionate she is about what she does. Whether it’s her painting, teaching or volunteering and philanthropic endeavors; you know she approaches them all with the same drive, positivity and enthusiasm. It is that lust for life that shines through in her work. She is as unique as the wonderful art she creates and has a style all her own. It would be difficult to mistake her work for someone else’s, especially her splash portraits. They evoke an immediate sense of emotion and engagement. They draw you in. Sylvia hopes that she leaves a smile on everyone she meets and we’re sure that she does, every single day.
We hope you enjoy her interview below:
Who are you? What do you do? And, what is your favourite food?
I am a professional artist, an art educator and philanthropist. I run an art studio mentoring students towards their artistic dreams. I use colours to paint people’s personality and essence of who they are. Besides teaching and creating art, I run a non profit organization called Paint A Smile, providing art workshops for children with cancer, autism and learning disabilities so that they can unleash their creativity and learn to be confident.
Besides art, I love hiking, camping, the outdoors, being connected to nature. I enjoy spending time with loved ones. My favourite food is sushi and Korean food (I am not Korean per se).
What are your main creative outlets?
I believe everything in life can be a form of art and be seen as an expression, from the way I do my work, to the way I communicate to painting. Some of my creative outlets include painting, dancing and martial arts. In 2008, I started learning how to breakdance, and eventually joined a breakdancing crew called Deadly Venoms in Montreal. Dancing was a way to express myself. It is similar to painting where instead of a brush, I have my body to express myself artistically on the dance floor. When I started breakdancing and martial arts, my idea of ‘what is art’ expanded and eventually I see art in what I do. Right now, my main creative outlets include painting and helping others express themselves; as I believe being self-expressed is important for people.
What caused you to gravitate toward a creative lifestyle?
What caused me to gravitate toward a creative lifestyle is my experience with art helping me express myself when I was younger. When I was young, I had a difficult time expressing myself with words, so what I would do, is create paintings, did drama, and danced to express myself. I find expression to be essential to me, as it allows me to connect with others. I think being creative allows one to explore different aspects of oneself, and connect with who we are as human beings. I think innately, we are all creative. My life right now, being an entrepreneur and a philanthropist involves being creative and finding creative solutions to solve problems that come up. I see my life as a piece of art, each layer adding new colours. Sometimes the colours are not always bright; however it adds to the piece as a whole. Life is that; different variations of colours. Comes out beautifully in the end.
How did you start creating your art?
I create my art by first splashing colours on a canvas. I determine what kind of expression and emotion I want on the piece and choose colours that portray that. Then, I would pick a person and a pose to have on the canvas that resonates with the canvas colours. At times, if I know my subject already, I would get to know the person’s personality, and then start the background colours knowing what colours portray that person’s personality. It takes me some conversations to get to know the essence of someone. Once I have the canvas background and subject, I start painting the person in basics. Then eventually in detail. In the end after the person, I usually add a splash of colours to conclude the piece.
Do you have a message with your art?
Inspiring beauty and positivity into the world. I believe art adds something new and refreshing in life, and can bring positive energy into a space.
What role do you think art has in our society?
Art can connect people together, and bring together a community. I have given art workshops in schools, hospitals and community centres and have witnessed how art transforms a community, by having people express themselves, their ideas, their voices, and acknowledge one another’s expression. It is beautiful when everyone’s artwork comes together and it becomes a dialogue of a community of people. Being creative is essential in bringing new ideas into society and moving society forward. At times, art can get controversial, and that is where dialogue starts, and what happens, becomes a process, and then goes forward from there. Sometimes, with art, it is hard to predict just what becomes of it. However it is bringing new ideas into reality and life. Art brings forth expression and innovation. Even with entrepreneurship, I see it very much like an artist bringing forth their idea into reality. Entrepreneurship creates new jobs and creates something new for society moving it forward. An example is Apple created by Steve Jobs.
What type of music do you listen to and why?
I enjoy listening to a wide range of music. I appreciate different forms, since music itself expresses moods. And a lot of artists get inspired by music.
What has been your scariest experience?
The scariest experience has been whether to be an artist. In society, there has been a negative connotation with being one, such as the idea of “starving artist”. However I do not believe that to be true. I think an artist has a lot of power in society as they are the innovative ones that think differently. I decided I wanted to be an artist when I was in grade 10. Ever since, I haven’t regretted it, and have enjoyed the ride. Right now, I see an artist as being an entrepreneur as well, creating something new for the first time, touching another human being.
Where do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from my life experiences. I draw even when I am not inspired. I just paint and draw because that’s who I am – an artist.
What’s your favourite job aside from your creative passions?
My favourite job besides being an artist is being an educator. I love working with young people and mentoring them towards their dreams.
Give the “10 year old you” one piece of advice.
If there was one issue you want to solve in the world, what would it be? Be that and be great. You discover something new when making a difference for another human being.
What super power do you wish you had and why?
If I had a super power, I wish I had the power to leave a smile on every one I meet. That brings about a positive aspect to that life, and a smile is amazing. Sometimes smiling to someone else makes a whole difference in their life.
Art is… (Complete the sentence / paragraph)
… an expression of oneself that is honest and true.
Best piece of advice you’ve received?
In terms of business, the best advice I have received was from a book that said this “Do what you love and die as you do. Do what you love is another mythical decree perpetrated by gurus and so called life coaches who are probably three clients away from broke. Sadly, the road of do what you love rarely converges with wealth. Think about what you love, and then think, will someone pay for it? Is it going to solve a need? Are you good enough to make money doing it?”
From Millionaire Fastlane
What do you want to share with the world?
Art makes a difference for people in the world. Touches, moves and inspires people.
We’d like to say thank you to Sylvia for taking the time to share a little bit of herself with us through this interview and of course through her art. You can contact Sylvia through her website or any of her social media platforms as well.
Here are some of the links and social media platforms you can find Sylvia on: