Spade On The Street- Nick Wons, Freelance Toronto Photographer

There is something to be said about trying to share a bit of a person’s story when that story is far too vast to narrow down. That something is, “It’s hard”. How does one try to encapsulate the magnitude of experience had by someone who has spent their every moment treading in an alloy of expedition and adventure? It is certainly not easy. Where do you begin, really?

Today, I’m here to introduce to you Freelance Toronto Photographer, Nick Wons.

If you live in Toronto and are part of one of its thousands of creative communities, you understand that the dynamic of these collectives are always very close knit, in the sense that everyone knows everyone, or knows someone who knows someone. Networking and creative comradery is something I find very special about this city. Emersion into the population of whatever niche you are involved in is to meet creative individuals of all walks of life. And more often than not, you cross paths with someone with such a profoundly grande, impactful, and unforgettable dynamism. If you know someone of this calibre, you know what their presence is like; step asides, all Alphas in the room, because the commander and chief has been designated.

Raw, open, pulsating… this person is like the lava stream you can’t peal your eyes from while watching from the solid rock bed that surrounds, catching the heat as they move. And if you know Nick, or have seen his work, you know exactly what I’m talking about. The dude’s blood is T.O+, therefore he encompass this rhythmical combination of Homespun Urban Animus, Gentleman Rapscallion, and a Wicked Sage Rudeboy. He’s hard to forget.

Our own meeting dates back to the beloved days of Loaded Fridays at Inside, Down One Lounge, and when Toronto Jungle was a Nina Spade staple. It takes a certain type of respected, genetic debauchery to keep up with it, and I’ve since understandably bowed out of the lucid scene aspect. Nonetheless, I will forever remain, at heart (and through my Sol Republic’s and bright orange bandanas), a ‘ginjie junglist’.

Nick gracefully and vociferously commands the Drum N Bass community here in Toronto, as well as frequents the Montreal scene, capturing titillating events on his DSLR, and charming comrades with his jocularity. With a sizeable creative projects and collaborations catalogue, he has experienced working with some of the City’s finest. The inventory can include the likes of TELEFILM Canada, TIFF, ETalk Canada, Montreal Gazette, Narcity Toronto, and more.  His talent has lead him to shoot the likes of Skrillex, Action Bronson, Bag of Trix Crew, and an extended list of celebrities, musicians, and performers, claiming to “feel at home” amidst the hustle and bustle of events, festivals, night clubs, and red carpet events. And for me to sit here and attempt to list his credentials is not possible. He has, successfully and masterfully, done so much.

One thing that I must certainly make mention of, is his magic on social media. Dubbing himself ‘The Puddle King’, Nick probes Toronto neighbourhoods, armed with his gear, to shoot the fabric of our City, having a particular fondness for puddles and reflections. His Instagram (@nwons) is a marvel that must be followed, as well as his additional social media on Facebook and Twitter. Also, be sure to check out his photo collaborations with Eckhart Soul, ANSER, and Vice x Virtue.

I met up with Nick in late October to not only shoot his segment, but to also discuss what I feel is a true testament to his creative savvy and capability: His involvement with Scotiabank Nuit Blanche, Toronto’s annual all-night celebration and multi-exhibition of art installations. Its exhibitors includes well-known, independent, local, and international artists, and our 2015 edition featured the likes of Inside Out Project artist, JR, having installed one of the top 5 featured exhibits of the evening. Nick was selected to shoot JR’s installation, and over a beer, and followed by a righteous meal at Barsa Taberna in Toronto’s historic St. Lawrence district, we discussed precisely how he was able to land the gig.

And so, Spade On The Street’s first interview segment was born.

 

Nina – So tell me about the shoot you did for Nuit Blanche, how did everything unfold? How did you manage to get that gig?

Nick – First off, I hate heights. Absolutely hate heights. So I have been shooting for The City of Toronto for 5 years now. This year, JR was one of this year’s featured artists and so they gave us the option to choose, and I had missed the boat on asking who I wanted to shoot. I want to shoot JR, and they said well unfortunately, it has been filled, and I was like, uh! I love his work, I follow it all, they said okay, let’s see what we can do, maybe we can speak with the photographer, and try to switch it up. I was like, awesome. So, we go in for a briefing, and in my head, I pictured that they were going to do something there, at city hall, because if you ever look at JR’s work, it’s always shot from above, and it is always big scale. Initially, their plan was to project images that he had shot ONTO Nathan Phillip Square, so there was originally no wheat paste installation, so hearing that, it crushed my hopes and said, you know… I figured that there’s sure to be something cool I can get out there on social media. It wasn’t until the night before Nuit Blanche that… okay, I get on my social media, as always… get on my Instagram, Scotiabank is one of the people I follow, so I see them on my feed, and they post, “Getting Ready In Nathan Phillip Square.” And they show a photo of wheat paste being put down on the ground with people’s portraits that JR had been doing.

Nina – And that’s when you found out about the change in presentation.

Nick – Exactly. So I was like ‘you’ve got to be kidding me,’ I mean, this was 8 o’clock at night, the night before… city hall is closed. And I need to try and get in touch with the right person ASAP because I need to get access to shoot this from above, because I know the angle, and there’s the fact that they are using a wet liquid to apply these portraits of people onto the ground… If you’re lighting it from 360 degrees the way that they did, you’re not going to shoot a single image of the installation that won’t have light reflecting off and glaring in your face at some point in the photo. So I was like, okay… I need to go to the roof. I put together an email and I emailed the reps at City of Toronto and told them-

Nina – This is the night before?

Nick –  The night before, yes! So I said something like, I know that this is crazy last minute… at this point now, I think it might have even been 10pm the night before… knowing me… anyway, *laughs* so I said “We have got to get this shot. I just saw what Scotia Bank posted, this NEEDS to be documented from above, no ifs, ands, or buts.” They get back to me and mentioned shooting it from a window, but the windows have on them this… anti-bird-whacking material….

Nina – *laughs*

Nick – You know, that stuff on the windows, they’re like these little dots that are inches apart…

Nina – ‘Avian repellant’.

Nick- Yeah! So there’s no way you can shoot a photo through that window without getting at least one of these dots in your photo. I tell them again, this is the situation, this is what I need… I can’t be speaking to security, and they tell me I can only shoot this from a window. I CAN’T shoot this from a window, it NEEDS to be unobscured. I got a reply telling me they’d see what they can do. No promises, but we’ll see. And I said “Okay…. do what you can…. but at the end of the day? THIS is going to be the shot you want. And it will be the shot that, if you don’t get it, you’re never going to get it again, and you will regret that you never got it. And it’s always going to be one of those moments…”

Nina – Precisely.

Nick – I like to NOT have those moments in my life.

Nina – *laughs*

Nick – so at least I said something about it. My email was sent off to officials. We didn’t get a reply until 2 in the afternoon, day of Nuit Blanche. I needed to be on location, and shooting at 7pm. In 5 hours from then, I had to be at city hall, get up there, and shoot it. So the shot is taken at about 7:30-8:00 at night. And man, it was just so awesome. After I sent my final shot to them, I was like “and here you go”. I gave it to them that night, and said “I told you, it would be awesome.”

Nina – But it really was awesome.

Nick – Thank you. So that opened up to me asking them, “So, now that I’ve done this at night, can I shoot up there during the day?” And that is one really valuable thing that I have learned too, from this experience… you really don’t know what you can get away with until you ASK.

Nina – Absolutely. And that’s truly great advice.

Nick – Yeah, and I think that a lot of people are afraid to ask in many cases and it’s like, sure you can try to go about other ways of doing things, whether you’re exploring buildings or… I actually know somebody who’s a rooftop photographer in Toronto…. VERY controversial…. And instead of putting himself in a position where he could be charged with things like mischief, or a break-and-enter, he asks, you know? If you have a criminal charge on you, you can be indicted for anything in America, for instance, if you want to cross the border, and if you get a charge and you go to the states, they’ll say ‘we don’t want your kind here.” Anyway, so I ask, and I’ve got a lot of places that I have been permitted access too. I can’t talk about it right now, it’s confidential, but I got the permission to. I asked. They are high profile places that have been shot in the past, but the people who organize everything aren’t pleased with the shots that they have-

Nina – And they’re entrusting you to take new photos because they know you have the know-how, and know how good your work is.

Nick – I got a portfolio to show for it. I’m not just a dude with a camera. I’m actually a skilled professional who wants to come in and document it and make it worth your while.

 

Nina – One of the things that I was having a look at was other photographers from Toronto who are similar to the ones we’re talking about—rooftop-photographers. Those men and women who grab their cameras and scout the city for those perfect shots. And one of the things that I’ve noticed is there are similarities in their chosen locations. I do see a difference between your own style, and everyone else’s of course when you’re shooting the same locations. What do YOU think differentiates yourself from those who shoot like you, or maybe even mimic your method?

Nick – Hmm, interesting. Um. I mean, image wise, it’s tough to say. I don’t think there is much that differentiates me, other than it’s my personality. It’s my style and assets, you know. We have different editing techniques of course, I do try to look at things differently that the next guy… whether it’s my puddles, or my reflection shots, which is something I’ve really sort of become known for now. That’s the thing, it’s like it’s certainly my personality because I deal with clients and image wise… I get to tell MY story. I kind of share the way I see things and the way the world is the way I look at it. And we have all walked different paths, and if my photos are something that people can attach themselves to, and really appreciate and get a FEELING out of them–

Nina – Do you enjoy that there is this sort of ubiquitous connection between Toronto photographers?

Nick – Yeah!

Nina – There’s sort of a connected community there.

Nick – Totally. There is. I mean, there’s a lot of really good people out there shooting. Sometimes there’s a lot of ego, but when you strip it down, there are some really good people in the photography community in Toronto, and I’ve had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of them, and MORE as time goes on of course. Instagram has actually been a big one for me. Instagram has connected me with SO many Toronto photographers. It’s crazy. I’m going out this Saturday with four photographers I meet at a shoot for a clothing company that I got in contact with because they started liking my photos, and gave me a bunch of stuff to shoot people in. Instagram is a great tool. A picture speaks a thousand words. I mean, that’s more than I can fit in a Twitter 140 character limitation. Twitter doesn’t speak to me *laughs*. But Instagram does. Instagram is my twitter.

Nina – So here is the golden question: What is most rewarding about your craft?

Nick – The power that an image can have. That’s huge. It can invoke such a wide, wide, wide range of emotions. If a photo is personal, it can bring back so many memories, good and bad. To a person knowing the situation regarding a photo, and have a tie to the image, or even people who never had any connection with anybody in the image, or the situation…. I’ve lost a lot of friends in my life. I’ve been grateful to have been able to photograph a bunch of the friends that I’ve lost. After they pass, you know, it sounds really terrible to say it, but people don’t really learn the value of images of people until they’re dead. And it’s that sort of thing, you know… to see friends, family, loved ones… you use your images as an anchor. It’s something that can be grounding, and bring back good memories. It’s something people can come back to. I mean, that is incredible…. Wow…. I’m at a loss for words now even thinking about it… you know, images like that are better than any magazine spread, better than any paycheque…. It’s like that joke meme that goes, “I’m a photographer: My superpower is I make people immortal.” That whole thing really rings true when the sad things happen. And, of course, the GOOD things. I tell people “I’m going shoot you right now, you know. You’re never going to age. This place is never going to change in this photo. I’m going to capture this moment, and we are going to come back to it always.” Everything is going to stay the exact same. I’m able to capture, for a lot of people, including myself, a lot of emotion. The ability to be able to lock that down for people and give them that-

Nina – To take a finite moment and make it infinite…

Nick – Yes, I take seconds and I push them out for eternity. Not even seconds…. One two-hundredths of a second. One one-thousandth of a second! That power is just unreal. It pays the soul, which is most important. Its stuff like that that makes me keep doing what I do.

wons.ca

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Spade On The Street – Ola Mazzuca, Multimedia Journalist & Project Manager

When I am asked what my goal is by taking on my Spade on the Street project, my answer is broad, as there are many reasons as to why I am as passionate about this endeavor as I am.

I live and love in a city booming with young professionals and artists that are taking their ‘chip bag of resources’, tilting their heads back, and tapping every crumb down inside them. And being a young professional Torontonian myself, to shine a spot light on this type of attitude is compulsory. In many ways, it is part and parcel to your spirit as an artist to support your creative comrades and counterparts, as there are still these dated, though well-intended, expectations from different generations and demographics that encourage people to not take risks and just find ‘safe employment’. Forget your dreams, forget your desires. And nevermind, who can blame in this volatile world that we’re living in.

That is the thing about this world; there is both failure and success. When you turn on the news, or pick up the paper, or scroll down on what’s going on this week in the world, you’re met with an abundance of ‘bad news’. That is simply because no one would tune in if it the news was good all day, everyday. Call it the obvious human nature of being fascinated and attracted to negativity, the macabre, struggle, trials and tribulations. Bad news sells. Negativity strategically places a veil on what is going on in the world, menacingly warping your perception of the bigger picture. It instills fear and stifles your drive to do something ‘different’. However, the state of the world is not as bent out of shape as we see it, and a balance in having hope, happiness, success, motivation…. It is so key.

Hope, happiness, success, and motivation are abundant. And it is very easy to get lost in the mix of things and forget they’re there.

I created Spade on the Street to INSPIRE others in a world that tells them that following your passions is too risky. I wanted to share with EVERYONE that there are so many remarkable individuals, whether struggling or not, who are perusing their passion, and they are LOVING IT and cannot imagine themselves doing anything else but what they love.

Ola Mazzuca, this Spade on The Street session’s featured young professional, is a shining example of just the type of individual I am talking about. She embodies the exact spirit which elucidates what I call the ‘main ingredient’ in the recipe for success. I have watched her evolve over the years, whetting her appetite for every angle and every plane of Toronto culture, and accumulating the building blocks of professionalism and creative venture through her love of media, music, food, and travel.

Growing up just north of the city in The Village Of Kleinburg, she holds a Bachelor degree with Ryerson university for Journalism, and is an extraordinary communicator through her passion and skill for writing, having been showcased in Noisey by VICEHellboundExclaim!Post City Toronto and Large Up, with surly more to come. I encourage you all to follow and be inspired by her pursuits and discoveries. You can read more on her Website, as well as follow her on Twitter.

While sharing a samosa after her shoot on Gerrard Indian Bazar, we got to chatting about what it means to live creatively and to be integral about your creative passions. We also got to talking about some of the principals relating to having a quality life that recently-passed Motivational Speaker and Author, Wayne Dyer, shared with his fans and for those he has helped. Dyer, I have found, has and continues to be a favorite amongst many youth and individuals in our generation, having a knowledge and wisdom that resonates with young people. Ola reminded me of the title of a book he had co-wrote with his daughter Serena. The title is “Don’t Die with Your Music Still in You”. This simple statement echos that fire that burns inside those who are bent on sharing the passions that are inside them.

I thank her for an enlightening, inspiring, and energizing morning together. It is obvious that Ola is the type of person who is connected to her inner music, and lives intrinsically through this philosophy, even if it means choosing a more challenging path. But according to her, it is so worth it. And I absolutely agree.

Q – What is most rewarding about your craft?
OM – I have many, multifaceted crafts, that consistently grow and progress through each experience. As I utilize them, often simultaneously, in my work, I guess you can say that the rewards are endless. My crafts are a gift, and they are shared with others with purpose.

As a culture journalist, I have been able to tell people’s stories through various platforms and mediums. When I was a Features Editor of a women’s lifestyle magazine, I curated the music column, which was dedicated to highlighting strong Canadian female artists. Every time I secured one for an editorial, following the interview and editing process, I realized that they all had one thing in common: they had experienced adversity and overcame in triumph. Their stories were then shared through their craft. That’s what I continuously seek in my work – to share the purpose of another. Whether it be an up-and-coming artist or a legendary band, to faces of the Caribbean Diaspora (a kind-of not-so-recent found passion), my intention is to craft a meaningful story, in hopes that someone will cry tears of joy, smile or laugh at something nostalgic, and share with the world. I’ve also been able to share my voice, too, as the manager, co-host and producer of BanTOR Radio – a podcast I started this year, in partnership with an important person in my life. We work collaboratively by applying our talents and parallel zeal for music and journalism.

As a brand and project manager, it’s the same deal. I’ve worked with such a diverse group of clients, organizations and communities. In each and every experience, however big or small, I have learned invaluable lessons and acquired great skills.  I have a fervent passion for social issues and am an advocate of accessibility, mental health and promoting diversity in all its forms. One of my most rewarding experiences was spearheading a major accessibility initiative at the McMichael Canadian Art Collection, where I helped develop, deliver and implement art programs for people living with special needs. I documented the entire project over the course of two years, which was transformed into The Art of Inclusion – a best practices guide for other arts and cultural organizations to establish similar programming and practices in their work. Nothing compares to witnessing positive impact unfold in communities that need progress the most.

With my clients, I strive to deliver fluid results in representing their craft, so that they can reach their audiences with purpose. Most are in the arts and culture industries, so I am always brainstorming and collaborating with them in the process. This is highly rewarding, as it gives me the opportunity to learn about a different field or facet of their life. They are all incredibly hard-working, innovative professionals with an immense amount of drive for what they do. This inspires me.

When people ask me, “What do you do?” it’s tough to answer, especially when you’re a self-employed entrepreneur. I conclude a long explanation of my unconventional routine and vast interests by simply responding, “Pursuing my passions.”

Spade On The Street – Caroline C-ko Tattersall, Professional Tattoo Artist

With the obvious rise of Tattoo popularity over the past decade or so, it is far easier to get drawn into the magic and beauty of the art form. All kinds of people, all walks of life… politicians, doctors, school teachers… have tattoos. It is difficult, sometimes even surprising, to meet someone who doesn’t have, or hasn’t thought about getting one. How remarkable is it to watch the transition of a craft that used to be taboo evolve into a social and cultural norm that now rarely raises an eyebrow. In fact, it is celebrated, appreciated, and made a marvel. Perhaps one could call me impolite, but I very much enjoy sitting and working in a cafe, walking down any street in the Downtown core, meeting new people, and riding the TTC and/or driving around the city, and STARING and admiring and deciphering and absorbing and analysing and taking in other people’s ink. I certainly doubt there isn’t a soul who lives in any urban infrastructure, where the population is mainly young professionals, that has not done this at least once.

Being as enthusiastic as most people, I find myself very much enamoured by the art. Like most things, it takes raw talent to master, and that comes with dedication, practice, experimentation, courage, and even a certain amount of instinct to stand out as an artist. I remember getting my first tiny tattoo at 18 years old. Despite it’s macro size, and predictable location, I loved it so much, and still love it today. Over the years, many more have made it into my collection, and like most people, I am keen on the practice of client loyalty to one, or perhaps a small handful, of professionals. It is so unbelievably wonderful to be able to say that I have known my artist since I was just shy of 14 years old.

Caroline Tattersall has only been tattooing professionally now since 2012, but is incredibly gifted at what she does. I have had the privilege of watching her love of drawing and art unfold and evolve over many years, now having revolutionized into tattooing. Although living in Toronto with her two dogs, Taco and Nacho, and her equally-talented and fantastic husband, Peter John Belej of TCB Tattoos in Queen West, you can find Caroline in the Trafalgar/Uptown Core of Oakville at the reputable Good Point Tattoos shop.

What I think makes Caroline stand out as an artist is her ability to not ‘specialize’ in one particular style. Her credentials, technique, and styles have ranged from ‘watercolour’, portraits, dot work, sailor, and much more. My favourite is her flair and propensity for pretty pieces done in bold, bright colours. Her versatility is something that is not only evolving, but will no doubt propel her towards further and inevitable success. to see more of her wonderful work, you can also follow Caroline on Facebook.

Her segment took place on a very beautiful day in the park, accompanied by both Peter and her fantastic pooches. I thank them both for such a delightful afternoon, and I am eager to watch Caroline further herself as an artist. I remember in highschool asking her on many occasions to draw for me. Looking back, I thank her for her patience, because I must have been so annoying. But she always did, with enthusiasm and humour. And I am so pleased to be able to treasure, years later, her incredible art on me, and be able to do so every day. Art that is meaningful, bold, beautiful, and special. Just like Caroline.

Q – What is most rewarding about your craft?

CT – I got into tattooing because I wanted to see where I could take my artwork. I’ve always had a love of drawing and noticed over the years that I showed improvement the harder I worked. It is truly one of the only careers where you can physically see your progress. I am interested in seeing how my artwork changes over time. Tattooing is such a head game, there is a lot of self-doubt and inner criticism that can negatively affect you on a daily basis. I remind myself that it is my brain creating something, not me, I’m just an observer. That way, when someone shoots my work down, I don’t take it personally. Being able to take rejection is a huge part of my job and I want to soak up as much criticism as possible and apply it to my next tattoo.

That being said, the other rewarding part about tattooing is the interactive aspect of it. I have met some amazing people through tattooing that have made me feel so accepted and loved and inspire me to keep doing this for as long as I can. You realize that it takes so little to make someone feel important, and I try to treat all my clients as though they are friends. I’ll sing and dance a lot during the tattoo just to keep my head in a fun and creative mood and my clients don’t seem to mind, it usually makes people laugh!

Yes, there are days that I feel exhausted from the work load and it can be tiring when working with difficult people. But for the most part, I work with talented artists, and we generally get on well and have a laugh all day. I come home tired, yet so satisfied from a hard day’s work, and to boot, there’s money in my pocket. I wouldn’t trade this career for any other kind of job.

Spade On The Street – Kate Bland (“Nail Kandy Kate”), Freelance Nail Artist & Technician

“If you got cool nails, you wake up, and you’re like, ‘Oh, I’m happy now!'” – Maisie Williams

Nothing like a fresh set of beautiful, bright nails to make you feel like a million bucks. Although I do not dye my hair, nor wear too much make-up, my absolute favourite aesthetics to treat myself to is a great manicure, complete with brand-spanking-new and funky fingertips.  And if you share this joy with me, then you would love what Kate Bland, AKA, Nail Kandy Kate, can do.

A 1st place winner of the Canada Nail Cup mixed media category, and with a background in Make-Up Artistry, Kate studied at Sheridan College, applying her skills as a make-up artist for films and photo shoots in and around the GTA. Her love of cosmetics began when we was quite young (she shares with me that her mother relayed Kate wanting to own her “own cosmetics company”… A statement she claims to no longer recollect). Overtime, this love for make-up evolved into a passion for nail art, which she has been vehemently perusing and emerging into over the past 5 years.

She has been invited to take part in an exciting, educational, and inspirational weekend, The North West Nail Tech Retreat, on Vashon Island, South of Seattle, coming this October. The weekend seminar is an experience expected to bring together a variety of talent looking to expand their skills and share their own experiences. A flight fund for Kate has been organized with Go Fund Me, called the Flight Fund For Nail Camp. I encourage everyone to click on the link and make a contribution!

Her wonderful creations can also be seen on her Instagram account, @nailkandykate. To book an appointment or consultation, please contact her via email: kate@nailkandy.com

No matter your personality or personal tastes, her nail creation is truly special, and she is able to cover a wide range of tastes. She has manifested themes such as Honey, Mermaids, Fruit, Flowers, Penguins, Paris, and even Birthday nails. Her easy-going nature becomes overshadowed by her affection and zeal for what she does; her eyes light up when asked about what sort of elements she uses to create her designs, where she draws her inspiration from, and all that is in between. Be sure to keep an eye out for for, as her talents continue to ripen. If you’re from Toronto, and you love unique, exquisite, one-of-a-kind nails… Kate is your go-to girl!

 

Q – What is most rewarding about your craft?

 

KB – Lots of things! The ability to create ever-changing pieces of artwork that are tailored to each client’s style and personality. That “WOW” moment when my client can’t believe I painted such tiny portraits of their cats onto their nails (and they actually look like cats). Although my canvases are much tinier than most other artists’, the options for how I can decorate them are practically unlimited which lets my creativity and imagination run wild. I also enjoy being able to provide a service that is purely about having fun and doing something nice for yourself. In the grand scheme of life, I know that nail art and getting your nails done is completely frivolous and unessential, but it’s important to allow yourself things like that. I feel like many people take things so seriously, and nail art is a small escape from the stresses of the world. I mean, you can’t be too serious with unicorns or googly eyes on your nails, right?

For myself, when I do my own nails, my style and personal taste are constantly evolving and I love the fact that nail art is only ever temporary. It can be inspired by an emotion, an event, a season or even just a color that I’m into at that moment and by the time I’m ready to re-do my nails I will have moved onto something else that has piqued my interest.

I can be a bit hesitant to commit to things with any permanence (note: I don’t have any tattoos and you wouldn’t believe the amount of research and thought I put into even the simplest shopping purchases). There is something satisfying, perhaps cathartic even, about creating a piece of artwork that you know will inevitably be removed and destroyed, and this is an aspect of my life I can be carefree about. I think it helps me cope with the fact that nothing lasts forever, things change and that’s okay. Thankfully I have photographs of all my work so it never truly disappears 🙂

 

JEWELRY GIVEAWAY

Good day, Nina Spade Studio Fans!

Today is a special day, as I will be having an absolutely fantastic JEWELRY GIVEAWAY contest on Instagram starting from today, Monday August 31st, and ending Monday, September 14th, 2015.

Enter to win a one-of-a-kind jewelry package:

– Visit Nina Spade Studio on Instagram
– Follow!! @ninaspade
– Repost the photo of the JEWELRY GIVEAWAY PACKAGE of your choice with the hashtag #ninaspadegiveaway, and tag @ninaspade. It’s that easy!

Quick note: This contest will be running until September 14th, 2015 and the winners (3 winners, 1 for each giveaway) will be announced at 12:00pm EST. You also must be 18+ years of age, and you must have an open, public profile to enter.

Good Luck to all, and stay tuned for more wonderful new designs!!

– Nina Spade

 

Spade On The Street – Kelsey Ferguson, Special Educations Teacher

Assisting in shaping the human mind is an ability that is, understandably, both remarkable and expedient in today’s society. I give such ovation to any teacher I meet who influences and helps students both young and old to develop into the best versions of themselves. To me, an outstanding teacher goes beyond what is expected of them and has this natural inclination, as well as this remarkable competence, to not only leave a lasting impression on their students, but are able to systematise and manifest methods that benefit their students INDIVIDUAL needs and personalities.

For individuals with special needs, this would seem to present a challenge, and a special educations teacher is not only someone who is a specially trained professional, but someone who is patient, gentle, strong, and has a tremendous amount of heart. They are incredibly understanding, resourceful, creative, and fun!

Today, I introduce to you all my good friend and Special Educations Teacher at the reputable Kohai Educational Centre, Kelsey Ferguson. She is about to embark on her 6th year of teaching, having studied at McMaster University, Trent University, and is also presently completing her Masters at Brock University in Applied Disability Studies.

I am so delighted and inspired when I hear her relay the wonderful activities she does with her incredible students. She creates an environment for them that is filled with fun, allowing her students to exercise their abilities to be inventive, adventurous, productive, and happy. I have personally attended one of Kohai’s student concerts, and loved watching the teachers and students perform their own wonderful renditions of popular songs.

What Kelsey does for her students is truly incredible. I am constantly in awe with her great mixture of enthusiasm, dedication, and joy for what she does, and this world needs many more people just like her.

Q – What is most rewarding about your craft?

KF – Being a teacher of children with special needs, I am driven by one pervasive question, “Why not?” Why can’t these children learn and achieve? Why can’t they learn how to communicate? Why can’t they learn to live independently? I ask myself these questions often, and this is what drives me to become a good educator. I strive to find solutions for my students, not problems. I strive to challenge them in a way that society may not. I strive to make them valuable members of their families and communities. And I am rewarded greatly for my efforts. There is nothing more rewarding than seeing a student finally achieve something that we have been working so hard on. Better yet, when a student achieves something and is proud of themselves.  The look on a students’ face when they feel pride is all the reward I need. My job is difficult, but the rewards make it so worth it.

One of the most valuable skills I have achieved as an educator is to never blame the student. Now, let me be clear, this does not work for all educators, and eventually we have to ask that the students have ownership of their own lives and goals. However, with the young children that I work with, blame does not work. All students want to learn, and it is my job to set up the environment in such a way that they can be successful. For example, a student may throw a tantrum every language class. They are not doing this to be bad. They are doing it because something about the environment that has been have created isn’t working for them. They aren’t getting the rewards they need to work at the task I have assigned. It is not my job to blame the student, It is my job to figure out how to make it work. Maybe he needs to sit on the floor. Maybe the work is too hard and we need to back it up a step. Maybe we should put some music on and have a movement break before class. Maybe he needs a really powerful reward, like ipad time, to make it through the challenging class. There are so many maybes, and it is my job to sift through them all to find what will work for my student.  Giving up is not an option.

It is a challenge. And sometimes, I feel like I’ll never get it. I have cried more than once in frustration, trying to figure out how to make something work for my student. But with the frustration comes the greatest reward. When I finally figure it out; When we make it through a language class with no tantrum, I am on top of the world! I did it! I got through to this kid! I helped to make a difference in this child’s life. He can now sit and learn a valuable skill because I figured out how to teach it to him! It is such a great feeling.

I recently had someone ask me “What are the two greatest things about being a teacher?” I responded honestly, and he replied “July and August”. It was a joke. Funny, I guess. There are a lot of teachers out there who work very hard, and we are privileged enough to get a lot of vacation time. I see this time as a reward for hard work, not a right. But any teacher that I know who is in any way good at their job will never list summers off as the most rewarding part of their career. We do what we do to make a difference. We want to see children grow up to be conscious, thinking, feeling members of their communities. We want children who are inquisitive, who ask “Why not?” on a regular basis, and who challenge the status quo. That is why I am a teacher.

Spade On The Street – Tricia Güt, Holistic Nutritionist & Blogger

It has been a while since updating the blog, and my sincerest apologies for keeping you guys waiting. I have been slowly polishing my incredibly elementary technological skills, as well as tackling a few other life demands. Future projects are underway, despite taking longer to manifest than anticipate, but I promise some fun stuff in the near future. After taking a two month hiatus to upgrade my technology a bit (new computer, new camera), I have returned, Nina Spade Studio Fans, and with a very special Spade On The Street segment.

When I stop to think about the one thing that effects our health the most, it all chips down to diet. Of course, there are many things that attribute to a healthy and active lifestyle, but let us focus on our ‘Guts’ for a moment. It’s not always easy to practice healthy eating habits, and even when we have the time to utilize that desire, more often than not we find ourselves asking, “Well, I want to be more conscious about my diet and about keeping my mind and body healthy… but where do I begin? What DO I eat and how do I do it?”

How lucky am I to say that I have someone so very important to me that can help me answer those questions. That person is my dear friend, Holisitc Nutritionist & Blogger, Tricia Güt.

Tricia has always been an inspiration to me. She lives a life of passion AND compassion. And when it comes to the things that matter to her the most, she discusses them and acts upon them with vigour and gusto. I have watched her make remarkable creative transitions since the day I have met her. She has a knack for design, and has done it all, from trendy and custom nautical bags, silk screening, and even killer costumes like My Pet Monster and my very own David Bowie Ziggy Stardust Halloween get-up. She has travelled all across Europe within the past two years, further enriching her life by bringing home her own inspirations and experiences. And there is never a time I visit her and I am not served the most delicious, bonkers-healthy meals and smoothies and deserts and tinctures my belly ever did have. And although it is mostly to be taken seriously, she makes charging and chanting up Yonge Street during a March Against Monsanto educational and fun (…and hydrating, with always a mason jar full of fresh water and cucumber in tow).

Her know-how when it comes to nutrition is marvellous. Her unapologetic devotion to being active about health and her say-it-like-it-is attitude is a valuable facet on the multi-faceted constitution of making the world a better place. And like all aspects of raising awareness and awakening consciousness in this day and age, it is necessary. She calls a spade a spade (Oh, I am just full of cheeky puns today).

So, without further ado, here’s a lovely lady who firmly believes in something very real and very simple: “most everything happening on the outside is a direct result of what is happening on the inside”.

Q- What is most rewarding about your craft?

TG: Feeling passionate. Being able to stir up my insides and express them outwardly.

I’ve always been a craftsperson. I can say that. Working with my hands is the most natural form of work for me. I made the huge decision of walking away from my craft as a seamstress last year when I decided to go back to school. I am the type of person that eats information for breakfast. I am inspired by so much in life and I refuse to put myself in a box, or remain in a stagnant state. That is why when my work as a designer/seamstress was no longer lifting my spirits, I turned to something that would. I am proud to say I am passionate again. As someone who lost passion for her craft, to find it again in something else feels amazing. Today, I am a holistic nutritionist, having earned the designation of Certified Nutritional Practitioner (CNP). What does this mean exactly? Well, it means a lot and it means something different from person to person. In an industry that is quickly becoming over-saturated, I see no good reason to limit what it is that I can now do with my designation. Freshly out of school, it is now my time to figure out my voice and my place in the world of holistic nutrition.

I do have a glimpse of what I am becoming. With each tool I learn to use and with each bit of information I hone, I find that I am becoming better at being a human. I think that what it means to be human is nowadays is not what it once was; we were once survivors. We used to be able to fend for ourselves, having an innate quality to live off the land. Now we can’t even get by if our iphones die. We don’t know where our food is coming from. Most of us have become complacent and lazy. In honor of Halloween I will even say this; we are a bunch of zombies. If you do not believe me go to a mall and just sit and watch. People consume so much, trying to fill this emptiness inside but never feeling quite full enough.

“Holistic Nutritionist”… “Herbal Tincture Manufacturer”… “ex-Seamstress”… All just words to help others to define me but really what I am is human. Everything I am learning is essentially to become self-sustainable and un-reliant on others. Therefore my craft is to show by example how others can learn to get back to their roots and become human again too. With my own two hands I make herbal extracts used for medicinal purposes, I grow food in my backyard, I brew kombucha, I make my own almond milk, I cook meals almost every single day for my loved ones, I can make my own clothes (when I am in the mood), I can handle a two-bit drill and I am no stranger to a band saw, jigsaw, and miter saw.

To get back to being human we need to start with food. We have lost our connection to food and I want to show people how to get connected again. I want people to care about what they are putting in their bodies. The most joyful experiences I had this past summer were visiting organic or biodiverse farms and getting my hands in the dirt. Being a part of the farming process from planting the seed, picking the crop, preparing for market, and sharing it with the public has been my most rewarding experience so far. Ask me how much I love farmer’s markets… SO MUCH!! Farmer’s markets are so universal too. Really, I could be anywhere in the world and find a market to meander through. The colours, the smells, the food… nothing beats strolling around a market for me. The best part is you can meet the people who grow the food. You can talk to them and ask questions. You can get rid of the middle man involved and go right to the source. Best of all, you can support these hard working and local farmers by buying their stuff. I have no problem going to markets and opening my wallet. I always feel great afterwards because there is never a guilt feeling associated like there is when purchasing and consuming fast food.

When I eat food fresh from the market there is a certain appreciation for it after having met the person who grew it with their own two hands. It feels good, and I don’t know about you, but I like feeling good. That is exactly what food is supposed to do, make you feel good inside and out. Hopefully I can encourage a few more people to get off their butts and find a local farmer’s market and stock up for the week.

As a Holistic Nutritionist I am capable of helping others get their life and health back on track. I have the tools and knowledge to help people with everything from mental disorders to allergies. I am passionate about prevention. I would love to get into the schools or to educate young families on what they can do today to ensure a better future. One of the reasons I went back to school was a direct action after becoming privy to the “cancer industry”; One out of every three people in North America will get cancer. Look around you. That is you and your family. The suffering can end, I truly believe that. I believe it starts when people get this mentality out of their heads that we have another Earth to go to or something. Too many people do not care about what is happening in their environment. Our environment is what is making us sick. If you do not want to fall prey to illness and disease it is time to start caring. It is time to get connected in the truest of ways.

“It has to start somewhere…
It has to start sometime…
What better place than here?
What better time than now?”
– Zack de la Rocha (RATM)

Visit Tricia’s Blogs:
Tricia Gut – CNP
Something Special Happened Today

 

Spade On The Street – Benjamin Tillmann, Visual FX Artist

The beauty and wonder of films and animation can take you on adventures that go well beyond a story; the composition and construction of the visuals behind what is on the big screen are obviously paramount in the delivery of a motion picture, and should evoke a ubiquitous sense of being very much a part of the unfolding feature. They are an escape from the redundancy of life. Film is a beloved, magical art that is ever evolving, always expanding with new innovations and technology, and continues to capture humanity’s heart after decades of uncanny and spellbinding amelioration.

I give credit to Ben Tillmann on being what I like to call an expert on the subject. Truth be told, I also give him credit for being one of the most multi talented and adventurous individuals I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. A few of his credentials include lighting and composition for numerous animated films (a personal favorite of mine being the Tim Burton and Timur Bekmambetov produced animated film 9). And whether it’s racing competitively with the Canadian Dragons in Tanjong Beach, Sentosa, to indulging in his penchants for travel and photography, he is an inspiring person who truly is living life to the fullest, utilizing his incredible gifts, and following his dreams. After not seeing him for over a year, I was lucky to be able to spend a day with him during his current visit to Toronto this week, allowing for not only the occasion to catch up with the person who I have affectionately coined my ‘Pen Pal’ –a catch up inevitably includes a fair bit of fun, an equally fair amount of eating, and a venture to the cinema–, but also allowing for the opportunity to relay to all you Nina Spade Studio Fans his Spade On The Street segment.

Thank you Ben for your contribution to the Spade Blog. Continue to inspire those you encounter in life with your vivacious and artistic spirit.

Q: What is most rewarding about your craft?

BT: “– Entertaining and transporting people to other worlds — even if only for a few hours — and possibly even inspiring them in the process if I’m lucky —

…And that I am constantly learning and becoming better at what I do on a daily basis.
……And that I get to use both sides of my brain.

Okay, there are lots of reasons why I do what I do for a living. Most of it has to do with the fact that I’m still a kid at heart and even though I’m not telling my own stories, or in complete creative control of the projects I work on, I do get to be part of a team that creates worlds. Worlds which have the potential to inspire the imagination of children, both young and old, on a daily basis, in all corners of the earth. It can be pretty staggering and humbling when I actually sit down and think about it.

I also get to work with bleeding edge technology. So bleeding edge that when I’m not troubleshooting tools/proprietary software designed by our studio, I’m testing the possibilities of new tools from other companies months before they’ll hit the general population. It forces me to constantly be evolving as an artist and pushes me to be better today than I was yesterday and even better tomorrow. It also has me constantly switching between left and right brain thinking so I don’t have to abandon the technical and problem solving side of life which I get a kick out of to fully pursue my artistic dreams.

Now would probably be a good time to mention that I’m a visual fx artist (lighting TD/compositor/surfacing artist) for ILM/LucasFilm working in their feature division.

— Capturing the beauty in a split second of time before it’s gone forever —

These days, when I’m not at work, I’m most passionate about my photography. Especially when I’m on vacation. I don’t buy souvenirs. They don’t actually represent the emotions I’m feeling or the emotions of the location I’m in. You can’t reduce a person or a sunset or an ancient buddhist temple down to a piece of plastic. It’s just not possible. Especially in Asia where every market seems to have the exact same souvenirs on display outside of stand after stand after stand. Even a photograph doesn’t capture the true beauty of the moment, but at least it can capture a small taste of what I was feeling or what my subject was going through at that exact point in time. And I’m getting better with each picture I take too.  Maybe one day I’ll actually be able to snap a photo and think to myself, ‘yes, this is the entire moment, encapsulated in a single frame of time’.

(*cough* shameless self advertising *cough*)

— Escaping for a moment —

Moving to Singapore forced me to quit my band and, in an instant, leave that entire world behind me. It was one of the hardest things I had to do when I moved out here  Music is an intricate part of my life and has been for as long as I can remember. I have no idea how old I was when my parents signed me up for piano lessons, but I can’t remember a time when I couldn’t play. Although I no longer get the adrenaline kick I got from entertaining a room full of strangers — or an empty room with a single person, depending on the night — I still play bass and guitar several times a month, usually after a long day at work, or during a rare lull on weekends, to escape from whatever is currently holding me down in reality. Losing myself to rhythm and chords and sound and not having to think, but rather just do is almost more rewarding than any of my other artistic releases. Plus, I’ll occasionally be lucky enough to have a friend or two within earshot that I get to entertain as a small added bonus.

— Seeing my thoughts expressed on the page —

Which is evident by how much I’ve already written. I started writing when I moved to Singapore as a one way conversation with my family and friends back home. That way they could go through the experience with me even though they weren’t experiencing it themselves. It’s almost been 3 years now and I still write almost every night. I’d like to think I’ve gotten better, and that I actually have followers on tumblr leads me to believe I’m not half bad. Although I really don’t do it for anyone other than myself. It is totally 100% self serving and I’m okay with that.  It’s actually gotten to the point where I’m legitimately coming up with ideas for screenplays and/or novels, but that would require putting the blog on hold…”

 

What Does P.L.U.R. Mean? – A Perspective On EDM Culture, And It’s Pervasive Moto.

Peace, Love, Unity, and Respect, the respective definition of the compendium PLUR, is a motto coined by a generation of people with an affinity for EDM culture. A quintessential dance party is a pageant in unto itself, littered with young people in elaborate, hand-made, brightly coloured costumes, jewelry (otherwise known as Kandi), floral crowns, toutous, and sunglasses. Themes can be seen. Some as recognizable as unicorns and superheros. Some themes stretch the imagination, such as Steam Punk, garden gnomes, and even Toronto Mayor Rob Ford. Nevertheless, it is a spectacle to see and a sensation to not soon forget… marinating in a sea of fun fur and day glo.

VELD
VELD Music Festival, Downsview Park August 2nd & 3rd, 2014

I was tickled this week to do a bit on this phenomena. What prompted this animus was the recent and very sad deaths of two VELD patrons, and the hospitalization of 13 others during the massive dance festival last week. What also prompted me to write about it was witnessing both the public’s reaction to it, as well as people I have encountered personally.

Hosted in Toronto, VELD accommodates a staggering 50,000+ electronic dance music fans from literally all over the globe to celebrate EDM culture. An aspect of EMD culture that some of it’s participants engage in, is the consumption of alcohol, and the use of empathogenic and psychoactive drugs, such as cocaine, cannabis, and the amphetamine MDMA (also called Ecstasy, E, or Molly). MDMA, particularly, is a drug said to evoke feelings of euphoria, and increase the user’s energy, as well as empathy towards others. Because of EDM culture’s high-paced music festivals, and it’s PLUR maxim, MDMA has been the most popular stimulant experimented with at these concerts.

It was unfortunate to hear of the deaths of Annie Truong-Le, 20, and Willard Amurao, 21, who both were said to have taken an unknown substance which killed them and had 13 others hospitalized. Both of them were young, and according to many other articles pertaining to this story, both were good people. Smart people. Kind, courteous, and ambitious.

I was sympathetic towards a lot of the criticism that was received by this tragedy, and understood where the negative responses to it had seeded from. And yet, I was also taken aback by it. When unfortunate things such as this happen, I feel that it is strongly because of minimal understanding and education behind the use of drugs and alcohol, and that when these things occur, it has little-to-nothing to do with the overall intelligence or acumen of the victims, precisely when their judgement is already impaired or compromised. These otherwise intelligent people made a choice that they themselves did not conceptualize would result in such a detrimental consequence.

To assert that these human beings were asking for it, that they were stupid, and that they were dumb, is profoundly naive. They were human beings who made a terrible mistake. It is hugely disheartening to me to not only witness others judge this so harshly, but ultimately to hear those who themselves are advocates and partakers of EDM culture (a ‘tribe’ encouraged and inspired by PEACE, LOVE, UNITY, AND RESPECT) express what I perceive to be a disappointing insensitivity towards the victims, going so far as to assume that there was 100% crystal clear coherence behind their decision, and therefore, they are “degenerate”. They are “losers”. Or, most unkindly, that they are “E-tards” (an offensive term that refers to someone with an MDMA habit that borrows a disrespectful appellation from people with mental disabilities).

This is what I find most disappointing of all; The choice few who have forgotten to be compassionate towards this tragedy… the ones who understand that whole aspect of PLUR. Those two people who were lost had families and friends who are now survived by them, and are naturally suffering because of that loss. Should we not be more sensitive towards that? Should we also not be in support of one another? This is a mass that is cognizant to the nature of human; they are accepting of everyone, showing kindness and support, and demonstrating true recognition of others, finding common ground and being influential advocates of good will.

PLUR
No one is perfect.

I would hope that those who are so quick to judge find themselves in a fortunate position to discover their own unique way of understanding the beauty behind the PLUR motto, and promote an alternative response to this adversity with something that is constructive.

What exactly is PEACE, LOVE, UNITY, and RESPECT? Well, for one, I believe that all four of them are are fundamental ingredients to a good life for yourself and for others. I think that to embody these qualities yourself is just as important as seeking to find them in others. I firmly believe that we are all capable of all four of these beautiful attributes, despite our flaws and insecurities. And I firmly believe that these things can’t technically exist ulterior to yourself, unless you believe in these attributes for yourself first and foremost.

To EDM patrons, it is a mindset which aids in the manifestation of fun! You meet strangers and connect with them. You dance with them, you get to know them, you accept them. Watching two people exchange Kandi bracelets for the first time in my life while attending this concert made me smile from ear to ear. It may seem incredibly cheesy, but I found it to be heartfelt.

One of the most important parts of the ‘kandi’ culture is the process of gifting it. As a jeweler, I naturally find it amusing. It’s a handshake that signifies acceptance, followed by:

1. Two people making peace signs (Peace)
2. They form their hands into hearts (Love)
3. They join their hearts (Unity)
4. They slide their bracelets from hand to hand (Respect)

This is then usually followed by a hug and then the creation of a conversation. How can you not love that?

kandi

I had a fantastic week this week. Perhaps it was because I was feeling the PLUR. I was also very much motivated to share that same feeling. Of course, there is power in numbers, and so I asked some the ART BEAT participants if they would help me out. PEACE, LOVE, UNITY, and RESPECT are all equally important, however I asked those who participated to choose two out of the four and tell me what made them especially important. I loved each response.


I am so thankful towards each of these wonderful people for their inspiring and lovely thoughts. And with that, I leave you all with this:

We all must remember to practice kindness in our everyday lives. The ‘Grind’, as I like to call it, can easily get in the way, sometimes allowing us to forget to chose our words better, and speak of others more kindly. It is easy to forget to do that… to speak and act with respect… at those times that, perhaps, we ourselves are feeling vulnerable and insecure, angry or stressed out, a little bit threatened by life, or scared to lose what we love. And sadly, it is even possible to be intentionally hurtful, mean, and even malicious when we’re feeling guarded, putting our life on hold in an attempt to cause others pain. However it is so vital to emulate that which you seek for yourself. Being kind, believe it or not, takes courage sometimes. Be mighty. Hold onto joy. Always stand up to those who are unkind and stand up for those who may not have the voice to. Most importantly, lead by example; show peace towards those who are unkind. They’re usually fighting a hard battle within themselves. People like that need peace the most. And to those people, I only want to share with them mutual respect, understanding, and well wishes that we all just once and for all be good to one another.

I would imagine…. that the families of those who passed away and even to those who were hospitalized received more support, understanding, and love than they did negativity and a lack of understanding. When times of turmoil arise, the true of heart and the kindest of the kind are the first ones to give their love, support, and positive words and actions.

While attending the concert and witnessing this outpour of truly genuine connection, I found myself inspired by it. I wanted to remember the all-natural euphoria that I felt that day, dancing with a treasured friend and wonderful strangers alike. There was a moment in which a combination of beautiful colours (Navy, Red, Aqua, Ivory, Peridot, and Gold) in abstract soft and sharp patterns were being displayed on the screens on stage. I remember thinking how beautiful they were and how complementary, and even ‘in synch’, they were with the moment and everyone surrounding me.

From that, I created a piece to never forget that moment. And although it looks nothing like Kandi… it is a small but sincere tribute to that day, to the friends and families who lost their loved ones, and to all those seeking to both give and get a little PLUR in this big old show we call life!

Drugs and alcohol abuse can alter and deteriorate the lives of both their users, and their family and friends.
There are way in which you can help to increase awareness in order to support those affected by drug and alcohol abuse.
Spread the word about helpful organizations such as these:
Ontario Drug and Alcohol Helpline
Canadian Centre for Addiction

Mixing a Wee Bit of Business With Pleasure – Nina Spade Meets Producer & DJ, Jon Gooch

I’ve decided to take this entry down a different route today, relaying one of my many adventures in jewelry making with a social twist.

I never enter contests. Ever. When you’re as busy as I am, the opportunity to hear about an intriguing event or opportunity can sometimes pass me by. That, and I just never have motivation to make the effort. It’s such a fleeting thing to me, contests.

I have three BIG passions in life; exploring/creating art (particularly jewelry, of course), food… and music.
I’m an audiophile; From indie to drum and bass, classical to bhangra, jazz to reggae… you name it, I listen to it. Ask anyone who’s close to me what would happen if I ever lost my iPod. And having been trained classically on piano with the RCM, I even tried my hand at being a keyboardist for a heavy metal band when I was in college, which was glorious fun.

Long story short… One of my favorite artists in the so-called ‘dance’ genre is a gentleman by the name of Jon Gooch, AKA Feed Me, AKA Spor, producing electro-house under his Feed Me alias, and drum and bass under his Spor alias. His music is diverse, fun, and enginuitive. However, I have a penchant for multifaceted creativity; Jon sings, plays and records his own instrumentals, designs and manifests the graphics (he is a remarkable visual artist), mechanics, and even robotics behind his performances, and much more.

There was a promotion for his summer tour, Feed Me’s Psychedelic Journey, and it also included a contest to win a Meet & Greet and hang out backstage in the city of your choice. I remember looking at the add for it, and feeling atypically positive. I actually had a good feeling when I looked at this application.

So I entered.
What a surprise it was finding an email in my inbox a few days ago congratulating me on winning the contest (I scared my dog when I jumped out of my chair and let out a gargantuan “WOOOOOO!”… kind of like the Spence Diamonds commercials). As soon as I had some spare time that day, I made Jon a bracelet (because that’s what I do).

Now, as much as I love dance music and dancing, I have my reservations about giant dance festivals, and not just because I’m 29 years of age; As it turned out, Feed Me was set to perform at VELD here in Toronto, which can get wildly expensive, with single VIP passes sometimes adding up to $255+. Hark, they gave me two complimentary free VIP passes. AND… backstage access. Okay, I’ll go to VELD under those circumstances.

So, I rallied up my girlfriend Jasmine, and we set out on our adventure. The day was wonderful. We enjoyed ourselves with large water bottles in tow, lounging, eating poutine, dancing, and meeting new friendly faces. Jon’s set began just after 5 in the afternoon, and as expected, it was convivial, high-energy, and hearty. He performed many of my old favorites (One Click Headshot, Cloudburn), some new songs off his latest EP (Patience, Alarm Clock), and even some new tracks that will be on his upcoming LP. Naturally, I was in my glory. When his set was over, we met with Reuben, the stage manager, and he lead us to the trailers behind the stage where Jon was cooling down after playing in the summer sun.

The man is TALL. Was not expecting that. He shook our hands with a sincerely beholden smile, asking us what we do, and offering us a drink (we were turned down our request for water by his manager, who insisted on two Steam Whistles instead). He was incredibly charismatic, and at the same time, casual is the simplest of ways. Humble and true-blue. And my age. His tshirt (which was covered in a print of monarch butterfly wings) delighted me. We discussed touring. Jasmine, being a musician herself, enthusiastically asked what it was like to tour the world. We contemplated the curious life of the butterfly, and what what it would feel like to be one. We drank ice cold Steam Whistle under the air conditioner. It was all so nice.

Shyly, I gave him his bracelet, which I gingerly placed inside a tiny a linen pouch, and to which he claimed “Ooo, and it’s in my own little Hobbit pouch!” when I handed it to him. He put it on right away, smiling, rotating it around his wrist, and fingering the beads.

After hanging out, we were told he was being whisked away to do an interview with VICE, but not before I could get a photo.
“How could you not get a photo?” Reuben said.

We said our goodbyes and our thank yous, and I told him that he was extraordinarily talented, and that I’d always be a big fan. He told us he hoped to see us again.

I am incredibly and providentially fortunate to have had so many wonderful experiences and adventures, especially within this past year. In the span of about 16 months, I am pleased to say that I’ve encountered the most liberating, creative, successful, and connection-filled circumstances and wisdom. I am also humbled and thankful for the successful route Nina Spade Studio has taken. And it’s exciting to know that there is more to come.

Meeting someone whom I respect and admire so much, and have them like something I’ve made for them, tugs my heartstrings. I wish Jon so much success on his creative journey. And I am grateful to Three Six Zero management for choosing me as the lucky winner…

…Because when someone you admire so much takes a photo with you, holds up his wrist, and says “Oh wait! make sure you get the bracelet in there too, eh?”, you can’t help feeling anything else but lucky.