James Fisher is an artist and The Drake’s art installer extraordinaire. You may catch him at any of our properties working closely with artists to ensure their work is installed perfectly, allowing their work to shine for all the world to see. He’s also the creator of the Krampus Ball, an annual alternative Christmas costume party that you must see to believe. We sat down with Fish to talk art, mental health during the pandemic, and creative process.
Tell us about your art! What inspires it, what materials do you gravitate to, all the things.
My art is a means of escapism. I prefer to deal in fantastical subject matter as a break from the day to day. My work lends itself to storytelling even though I don’t usually direct the plot. Interpretation keeps things fun for the viewer. The big inspiration in my work is anything I like the look of. I keep a picture folder called “Inspiro” on my phone with images I gather online and anytime I’m in need I will dip into that and combine concepts and subject matter to make a new piece.
I consider myself primarily a drawer, as line work is my speciality. I use paint for color blocking or texture pockets, but mostly I enjoy intricate lines to add the detail I like to convey. Lately I’ve limited my color palette to washes of blues and ambers as a complimentary blend so as not to over complicate the already intricate line work.
Has the pandemic changed your art or your creative process? In what ways?
When the pandemic first hit my creative process completely stopped. I froze into a state of defiance as it seemed every creative person around me declared that the gift of time with the break in the system was the perfect chance to make all the art, and I hate being told what to do when it comes to my art. So I stopped. Ironically it was a good time to slow down and sit with some ideas I had been marinating on but too busy to focus on.
Now that the pandemic has settled in for the long haul, I have been inspired to lean on my creativity as a main source of happiness. Consequently, I have been making a lot of drawings and larger murals. I am aware that I am feeling inspired in this current moment so I am acting on it as I am also aware I may not be as inspired in the next moment, whenever that may be. So acting on it is key for me.
What is the connection, in your mind, between good mental health and creating?
Creating is a form of self expression. Self expression is a direct dialogue with your inner self that can act as therapy in sorting emotions and thoughts. The process of keeping good mental health is a willing act of maintaining that dialogue with your inner self so feelings don’t build up negatively. Creating is a tool for keeping a connection with the dialogue so that emotions and thoughts can keep flowing thru. I draw therefore I am happy.
What are some of the ways that you plan on practicing good mental hygiene over the coming winter?
Creating art makes me happy. I intend to draw every chance I get without pushing too hard on my need for it so I don’t burn out. Allowing myself space when I’m not feeling inspired and then pouncing on the opportunity when I am feeling inspired is a good way for me to keep the creative process healthy and happening. Listening to what I need and allowing myself the time to make it happen without unnecessary pressure will keep me nourished without stress thru out the winter months.
What’s your favourite memory of The Drake?
Halloween 2020 on Beaconsfield, Chris Wilson and I set up a flashmob that combined his beats with my freshly finished Stackamasks. There was dancing in the streets with smoke bombs going off while passers-by and patio goers alike were enchanted and bewildered by all they saw and heard. It was a magical reminder that there are still creative things happening in these hard times, and to push thru the blues.