How Artfully Artless is crafting death back to life

Artfully Artless is an independent business based out of Calgary, Alberta run by ACAD art student Amanda West.

“Artfully Artless began in August of 2013 with a few insect specimens and some bones being the first listings in the shop,” says Amanda West.

Bugs, bones, jewels and stones are just a few of the arsenal this creative soul uses to recreate artistry through the imaginative use of cruelty free insects for crafts.

“I first opened the shop in 2011 but I never listed anything,” says West.

“After a few years of scavenging and gathering parts, I found last summer that my impulsive collection of deceased critters was getting out of hand, and I was running out of space for all of it,” West adds.

Amanda uses cruelty-free insects harvested from local farmers/picked herself/etc. for use in her jewellery.

“It’s more of a way of living for me,” West says.

“I don’t kill thing nor do I let my family kill things in the house or in my presence,” West mentions.

“I would not buy something killed for the sake of art, so I would not sell something that is killed for the sake of [it]” West says.

So the idea came to fruition to take the form of death and bring it back to life.

“Perhaps someone would appreciate my bugs as much as I did,” says West.

Amanda has always been known throughout the city for her innovative and awe-inspiring artwork.

“I still study at ACAD actually,” says West.

“It’s fantastic being surrounded by other artists with all sorts of styles and means of inspiring,” West adds.

“I can honestly say I never thought I’d grow as much as a creator,” says West.

To create something that was once living and give it a new breadth of life is a skill most of us are drawn to but wouldn’t have the urge to attempt.

“Almost everything I make incorporates nature in some way,” says West.

“Nature is beautiful in its living form and even after it passes on, there is this sort of shell that remains,” West adds.

“The animals that I get my bones from have either died naturally, or have been taken by the road, by hunters, by hitting windows, or have been killed by other animals,” West says.

“I’d rather remember them, and honour them, than bury them and forget,” West says.

While Artfully Artless is picking up success online, Amanda sees a bright future for the business.

“Artfully Artless is a brand that I hope to allow other creators to sell their work under. It’s not easy to get your own business started, and if I can help others get started in selling their work, I’d be happy,” West says.

For her facebook page please visit: https://www.facebook.com/ArtfullyArtlessCraft 

The Man behind the Masses

Rich Aucoin is an indie rock experimental solo artist from Halifax, Nova Scotia whose sound cannot be simply put into words.  As a collaborator to the instrumental supergroup, “The Hylozoists”, he has put out an EP titled “Public Publication, a studio album “We’re All Dying To Live,” and is currently working on his upcoming 2nd studio LP “Ephemeral”.

 Rich Aucoin takes an experimental approach to writing. In an interview on MTV Canada, Rich said he likes to watch movies with the sound off and compose music to coincide with it.

Where many would sit down with a group and work out arrangements in a well-mannered fashion, he’s found a niche that just might be the coolest way to write any song.

 “I write all my music influenced by visuals and compose my pop songs like they’re scores for a film,” says Rich Aucoin.

 “So all the songs I’ve released also sync up to a visual and film with many synchronicities occurring between the visuals and the audio,” he says.

 Living in a reality where you visualize how the music would sound feels like a place where ultimate creative freedom can birth.

 With visuals taking an important role in his music, it isn’t a surprise that he’d spend as much time on video as he would the sound.

 “Thematically, the visuals really influence what the song is about too,” he also adds.

 “I think it just gives me a framework for me to visualize certain things about the song right away (i.e. tempo, certain key beats, theme, lyrical suggestions, and duration),” he says.

 Rich Aucoin’s music video for the single “It” parodies pop culture references to famous Hollywood films such as Die Hard and E.T.

 After gaining attention from the masses, and being coined as the greatest opening act in Canada due to audience participation and a giant parachute alongside visuals, he’s working on something even more exciting than the last record.

 “The new record, Ephemeral, syncs to the 1970’s version of Le Petit Prince,” says Rich Aucoin.

 “Other restrictions on the songs other than retelling the story and theme of that amazing book are that the songs are all quite fast and short with the whole record being 10 songs and just under 30mins,” he mentions.

 Rich Aucoin has earned recognition for his talent and music alike.

“This year [2012] marks the inaugural instalment of the Prism Prize, a newly launched award that celebrates the best Canadian music video from the past year. After weeks of lead-up, the organizers have now announced the winner for the prize’s first edition: ‘Brian Wilson is A.L.i.V.E.’ by Rich Aucoin,” from exclaim.ca by Alex Hudson.

“This song appeared on Aucoin’s 2011 album We’re All Dying to Live, while the Noah Pink-directed video followed in September of last year. The unique clip tells the life story of the iconic Beach Boys songwriter by taking Aucoin through a series of Brian Wilson-themed sets on a sound stage,” exclaim adds.

And the music scene is swiftly responding to this recognition by showing support.

The Canadian music scene is sometimes taken as a joke or is rarely talked about as much as the U.S. or Europe, but Rich thinks otherwise when considering A-list talent.

 “[Canada] totally does [have a strong music scene] and such a wide range from Arcade Fire, Drake,  Justin Bieber to Celine Dion and there’s tons of huge artists,” says Rich Aucoin.

 “In the indie world, we’ve got such a huge number of respected artists for such a small population and it’s a very healthy and vibrant scene,” he adds.

It doesn’t hurt having industry heavyweights such as Broken Social Scene or Metric to help break through the musical barriers between indie and mainstream rock/pop.

 Rich has his music tastes just as varied too.

 “I really liked Pink Floyd growing up and film-like pop music,” he says.

 The visual aspect of his career is one that’s as prominent in everyday life as the music.

 “I like photography and visuals for sure,” he adds.

And if he wasn’t a musician, he would love to be a filmmaker and hopes to do that one day.

 With a strong music community backing his decisions, Rich Aucoin is swiftly becoming an indie heartthrob that will resonate throughout the masses for years to come.

 For more on Rich Aucoin check out his website and Facebook page. He might even reply to your answers too.

Tonight, Tonight

For the past month I’ve been working on my directorial debut of a music video I arranged for a project’s class at SAIT. The video itself was shot entirely on my Nikon d7000 using an 18-105mm wide angle lens and a 50mm portrait lens. The song is composed and written by Brand New, an alternative rock band from Long Island, New York. The song speaks to me in a way that most songs don’t and the lyrics, although often cryptic, find a way to resonate in my head and won’t leave me anytime soon. I’ve interpreted the lyrics in my own way but the video itself touches on ideas of: lost love, misplacing and forgetting the past, starting over again and emotion in general. The video will be posted later tonight for your viewing pleasure. “This video is going to make me famous,” says Sam McPherson, lead actor and sarcastic friend. Stay tuned.