Illustrator of the Month - November 2010 & Oshawa Express Column 5 - Artscape

I am a day late posting my Illustrator of the Month. This seems to be becoming a  pattern! No good, no good. In any case, I'm doing a joint post for IotM and my Oshawa Express Column about making creative spaces in Oshawa, and thought it might be an appropriate time to highlight some of the talent in this community.

(as always, but especially in this post, please click to see images full size)

Dani Crosby is an illustrator who lives and works in Oshawa, Ontario. She is a freelance illustrator, and a part time professor at Durham College in the School of Media Art and Design, and was educated in Oakville at Sheridan College in their Illustration BAA program, the only one of its kind in Canada.

Dani's work is lyrical, expressive and interpretive. Capable of communicating ideas clearly, her work is illustrative in the purest sense.

I'm pretty much in awe of her talent.

Her work varies from the deliciously grotesque to the simply sublime, capable of suiting a number of themes and styles, but still manages to have her own distinct flavour, especially the line work.

Her work has included editorial, concept development, creative product development and fine art. Clients have included How Magazine, Bitch Magazine, The National Post, Protest the Hero, 66Thieves, Happy Worker Toy Company and many more awesome projects.

Seemingly never short on energy or ideas, Dani's work finds unique ways of expressing ideas that will lead you to think, "why didn't I think of that?"

Dani is also the co-founder of a new organization called United Arts of Durham. The basis of the org/website is to provide a networking tool to the arts community in Durham Region. Often disjointed, this community is vibrant and full of energy, but we seem to have trouble connecting to one another. The website offers a tool where creative types of any kind can find one another, as well as clients could find potential creatives. Check it out and register yourself here.



Dani's site has loads of images to check out. Be sure to do so by clicking here.

It is appropriate to talk about a local illustrator this month because my article this week is about the arts community coming together to help create a space in the city for artists, designers, and other creatives to congregate. It's a space that is desperately needed here. I'm sprinkling my article with a couple more of Dani's illustrations.

Community collaboration makes for creative spaces

By Jacquie Severs/Columnist

Recently I had the opportunity to attend a Creative Spacemaking Workshop hosted by the City of Oshawa and an organization called Artscape. What is a Creative Spacemaking Workshop you might ask? Well, that would be a fair question, because when I first heard about it, I felt a little confused. How is it possible to make space? In essence, however the concept is quite simple, it isn’t about making space, it is about thinking creatively about existing spaces, to reinvent them.

Artscape presents a model for old and underused spaces to be remade into something new that will in turn help to improve the community in which it is based. Artists, if given opportunity in the form of affordable, accessible space, contribute to communities and improve neighbourhoods with their creative energy. Artscape has facilitated the development of a number of successful projects of this kind, such as the Distillery District in Toronto.

Another example is the Wychwood Barns project in the neighbourhood of St. Clair and Christie Streets in Toronto. The long-abandoned TTC streetcar repair barns were re-imagined and dramatically renovated to provide a multifaceted community centre. The five barns and surrounding parks house artist studios, community groups, retail gallery spaces, an organic farmer’s market and provides event space for rent.

These spaces take a long time to bring to reality, as well as the vision and grassroots efforts of community members, artists and neighbourhood residents to bring it to life. The workshop was attended by a number of members of the local community who share a desire to create such a space in Oshawa.

Diverse groups all seemed to have the same message to bring, and that is the need for a community hub for artists, designers, craftspeople, students, not-for-profit organizations, musicians, theatre groups and other members of the creative class to congregate, share and learn from one another.

One interesting suggestion was the former Honest-Way department store in the downtown core. This space is currently unoccupied and offers a number of benefits; centralized location, diverse interior space including small offices and large open areas, proximity to performance and fine art tourist destinations, and a highly visible storefront that could offer retail gallery space.

The sharing of space provides a stable base of funding to support the project and in turn helps area businesses by offering events, culture and endless energy to the lifestyle of downtown Oshawa. It’s a winning combination to diversify our city.

From what I learned at the workshop, I believe it is a concept that would work in our community, if scaled to suit the needs of arts groups that have been crying out for a venue of this kind. As with any project, there are sure to be challenges. There will surely be diverse opinions about how the space should be operated, who should offer leadership (and financing). What the workshop highlighted to me most of all, however, was not the impossibilities, but instead the opportunity to create a fantastic space for the community to share.

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