q) What is your name and what do you do?
a)Bonita Helene Reid and I’m an artist, designer and animation colour stylist.
q) When did you really get into art?
a)I have this vague impression that it first really clicked when my grade four teacher got me to draw for the local newsletter. I somehow felt like I was on the road to being a professional. The lack of pay only re-enforced this notion.
q) How did you come to the realization that you should try your luck at art on a more serious level?
a)I got tired of working on other people’s ideas all the time. Animation can do that. As much as I’ve loved my job, over the years you tend to loose your inspiration, what drew you into the field to begin with. Really, I just wanted to work on something that was my own without second guessing or worrying about what would be accepted or not.
q) How did you discover the particular style that you have?
a)Probably by mistake – trial and error. I’m still discovering my style and hopefully always will. That’s what makes an artist grow, in my opinion. I love to experiment and every painting is treated in a slightly different way.
I approach my paintings as an illustrator would, but often I’ll execute it using classical methods such as traditional gesso, egg tempera, shellac and oil. Lately, I’ve been experimenting with casein. It feels like alchemy when I play around with these mediums.
q) How would you describe your style?
a)I have a hard time describing my style. Terms such as pop surrealism, Victorian surrealism and retro-tech surrealism have been used to describe it but I can’t say I feel comfortable with any label. I suppose ‘surrealism’ is the only description that covers most bases. Mechanical devices and anatomy are often part of the visuals and my work usually incorporates some kind of a narrative.
q) Who or what influences your art?
a)I love to know what lies beneath the surface and what’s been left behind once it gone – traces, echoes, ghosts. After my dad passed away I found several notes that he had written and on one it said, “These things will eventually fall apart, they cannot reconstitute themselves.” Without realizing it, I believe that my main motivation has been to simply record and interpret what my impressions are of these things that fall apart, whether they are correct or not.
q) How often do you create a new piece?
a)I’d say on the average about 14 pieces per year, but now I’m hoping to pick up the pace and to also include more illustration work. I’ve just finished an 11-year animation contract, so if all goes well, I’ll have more time to focus on my own work without feeling rushed and deadline-oriented.
q) What kind of success have you had with your art?
a)Well, I think my 15-year career in animation has been fairly successful although I wouldn’t call it my art. I’ve participated in many group shows and I’ve also been in 2 and 4 artist exhibits.
My work will also be appearing on jewellery and accessories from Classic Hardware which I’m really excited about, and I’ll be doing a show in May for Distinction Gallery in CA that I’m looking forward to.
q) What would be the ultimate goal for you and your art?
a)Ultimately? I would love to have the freedom of working on my own projects and to continue to collaborate with other artists.
I suppose my goal also includes the path that will take me there. I want to continue to grow, evolve, and most importantly, have the resources to do so.
q) What do you see as an accomplishment in the way of art?
a)Every completed piece is an accomplishment. When anyone takes notice of something I’ve created, I feel that it’s an accomplishment in itself.
The fact that you’ve tracked me down to interview me makes me feel as though I’ve accomplished something!
q) What kind of message, if any, do you try to convey through your art?
a)I want to convey a feeling of discovering something from a child’s viewpoint. I want to show what you thought might be hidden in your grandmother’s closet or your reclusive neighbour’s work shed. I want to look into that dusty box hidden up in an attic and paint what I’ve found and tell a bit of a story.
q ) Sum up your art in one word.
a)Scrapbook Dissection (okay, that’s two words…). And I don’t know what that means.
q) Any additional comments?
a)Thank you very much for thinking of me. I’ve been inspired by your questions.