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Project Puffin: An International Artist Series

How do you bring together corporate image branding and creative expression? Throw a bird in.

When artists, artificially intelligent conferencing software, and alcids come together, they make something beautiful.


Meet the Muse

He is feathered, rotund, often under-appreciated -  he’s our FreeConference mascot. While he lives a good life here, crossing oceans and working freelance, we can’t help but feel he needs to get noticed. Though he's no world-renowned motivational speaker, artist or teacher, he’s always been more than just a puffin.

The creative team at FreeConference decided to reach out to some of our favourite artists, textile artists, and illustrators, asking them to redesign the Puffin according to their personal style. They had some pretty novel ideas, both about puffins, and life in general.  

I, as our Creative Writer here at FreeConference, had the opportunity to talk in depth with these artists, from various parts of the world: each distinctly shaped by their experiences, environments and artistic education. Needless to say, their puffins looked nothing alike.

Meet The Artists

Eric Anderson, the TX-native illustrator behind multiple Wes Anderson films, (responsible for every map in Moonrise Kingdom and every painting in The Royal Tenenbaums) took me on a trip through time, reminiscing over his father’s mapmaking business, his love of old hotels, and the reason he created a shoe company solely for his Puffin Piece.

 

Alex Nursall, a Toronto based illustrator, photographer and writer (though she prefers writer to be listed first) gave me an inside glimpse into her world of wit, explaining why her passion for words lends itself well to her career in illustration, why she took a job making lewd watercolour paintings, and why she just can’t take photos of people anymore.

 

Rhya Tamasauskas is a textile artist living in Toronto. You may know of her toy company, the Monster Factory, which makes lovably hideous plush toys in fleecy fabrics that I once owned in my childhood. She got together with her old Factory partner to reimagine our puffin, and we are honoured. Through talking with her, I found out about her obsession with Muppets, the matriarchal gift of quilting, and why Barbie will always have a place on her daughter’s toy shelf.

 

In every era, there are a few artists that develop one-namers. I had the privilege of speaking with Seth, an illustrator living in what he refers to as his “time-capsule” in Guelph, Ontario. We discussed his stance on modern media (hates it), his childhood (nostalgic, even then), and his studio (poorly lit, featuring many clocks). His puffin was inspired by the Michelin man. I’ll let you imagine that one for now.

 

Patrick Hunter is a prominent First Nations artist, living a few blocks from our office here in Toronto. While we could have grabbed a coffee twenty feet from one another, we spent the afternoon on FreeConference, discussing how to avoid your taxes until the last second, exciting collaborations, his family’s long history, the beauty of Red Lake, and why it’s hard to teach kids to draw.

 

Yoni Alter and I connected on Toronto - London, UK time, where we discussed his childhood, touring art galleries with his father, and his love of cityscapes. Having lived in a plethora of urban landscapes, Alter was keen to explain his process behind his graphic map series, two pieces of which we actually have hanging in the office! His Puffin is a GIF, which we can’t wait to show you in full colour and plumage.

Connect With Us

FreeConference is the platform we trust to connect to our creative partners. Using our video conferencing functions, we were able to take a peek into the environment in which the paintings and pieces were created. No studio, artist, or story is alike, but FreeConference let us put all those barriers aside, allowing for a moment of connection between artists and journalists despite distance, time zones, and lifestyles.

We’ll be releasing this series week by week, introducing each artist more fully through their interview and Artist Fact Sheet. If you want to ask an artist a specific question, you’re welcome to reach out online, through our social media platforms on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

And if you’re wondering what Eric Anderson puts in his coffee, I’ve got you covered. Hint: it’s not cream.

Find out his secret ingredient in this week's interview, featured here.

 

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