Hey Cassie, what are you up to?
At the moment I’m sitting in my apartment in Leeds. I’m surrounded by moving boxes, suitcases, and an impossibly large pile of drawings to sort through.
I would suggest procrastinating the move and working on some of your art projects instead… Anyways, what’s next after you wrap up your time at school in the UK?
Trust me, there’s nothing I’d rather be doing. Besides packing right now, I’m putting together some promotional artwork for a mural festival in Calgary (Beltline Urban Mural Project). It’s a fantastic project connecting artists with local businesses to put high quality street art up in the city. I’ll be working with them in the next few months as the project expands.
The rest of my summertime is dedicated to personal art projects and commissions. I’ve loved the intensity of my program and I’d really like to keep that momentum going in my practice. And (lucky for me) I’m actually back to UK for my final year in the fall!
"This project is going to be great for Calgary and I am so excited to be a part of its development."
Beltline Urban Mural Project - 2017
That’s incredible. I think the Mural Festival is exactly the kind of thing Calgary needs more of - happy to hear you’re a part of it. Speaking of projects, I’ve been wondering what some of your favourite pieces are to work on?
I agree! And the response so far from the city has been overwhelmingly positive. This project is going to be great for Calgary and I am so excited to be a part of its development.
Some of my favorite pieces are the ones that have taught me the most. They’re the ones that have really challenged the way that I think, forcing me to make designs in ways I never would have considered. For a long time I had been limiting myself by what I thought “art” should look like. When I finally realized that there were no real rules, everything changed for me.
The first time I was asked to create a repeating design (2012), I was absolutely consumed by the process. That first repeat drawing was an introduction to a way of working that fascinated me, and I would pursue for years.
One of Cassie's repeating designs
Since then I’ve been deeply interested by artwork that uses multiples and repetition. My favorite recent drawing is an experimental work done using a combination of digital tools, hand tools, and machinery (2018).
Typically though, I move on quickly from pieces and make a conscious effort not to be too precious about my work because that can be limiting. For example, a drawing might be good, but it might be even better after it’s been drawn on top of, cut into strips, pasted back together differently, then dipped into water - or not! But through that process I gain experience and material knowledge of much higher value than the physical piece of work could ever hold… but as you can imagine, I also end up ruining a lot of my own work...
That experience is so essential though! Because it means that even if the work isn’t improving every time, I still am. When I’m coming up with ideas, I’m always looking through old work with no favorites in mind, considering what my intentions were and how I can express them differently and better this time around. An objectively bad drawing might have a brilliant concept behind it that could be revisited to lead to an incredibly strong piece of work.
"I had to learn all the rules before I could understand the best ways to break them."
Cassie working on a commission piece
I couldn’t agree more. Regardless of the medium, I think people produce the best output when they realize they don’t always have to follow some special formula or set of rules, but experiment until they create something special.
Yes! One of the most exciting things about creative projects is the whole concept of creating things that have never existed before. I find that there is a huge sense of empowerment to that process, and to get there you have to find new and different ways of working. Weirdly though, I think the opposite is true too, because there is definitely some value to rules. There’s nothing more difficult than a project with no parameters at all, and working within a structure can be surprisingly creatively stimulating. I remember years ago learning about all the “rules” of layout and graphic design and thinking it was the most boring and uncreative work I’d ever come across. Then an older (and wiser) student told me that I had to learn all the rules before I could understand the best ways to break them.
Interview by Dylan Stack