S&H editor Ben Nussbaum talked with this issue’s featured artist, Estée Preda, about winters in Québec, her past life filming snowboarding movies, and much more.
S&H: What does your work mean to you?
Estée: My work is very much rooted in escapism. The meaning evolves as my practice evolves. What I’m trying to do is create a full and encompassing universe. A little bit like Tolkien’s universe, a full world. When I started painting, I didn’t really have an idea of what I wanted to do. My work really doesn’t mean anything specific. Whatever people want to see in it, whatever makes them feel.
I like to try to create complex emotions through the interactions between the creatures. It can’t be too light or too dark. It’s kind of a reflection of our world through a surreal lens.
S&H: Is each piece a self-enclosed universe or do they all interconnect?
Estée: They’re all connected, for sure. They’re all part of the world. Some characters stay and some are gone; I’m not really sure why.
S&H: What do you do outside of art? I know you’re in a band (whose music I really like).
Estée: Yeah, I’m in a band, but that’s literally the other thing I do. I just make art and play in a band, nothing else. That’s all I do. I live in the woods 45 minutes outside Québec City. There’s nothing to do besides drawing and playing music, so that’s all I do. But it’s really fun.
I play music with my husband in his band. I play drums. It’s a really exciting new project. It’s this new avenue I’ve never explored. It’s a new medium but we have a similar universe, I suppose. His poetry and his lyrics tie into my universe, in a way.
S&H: Are you self-taught as a drummer?
Estée: Yeah. I’m pretty limited but it’s still fun.
S&H: How do you think those Québec winters impact your art? Would your art be pretty much the same if you lived in Miami?
Estée: I can never make good art in the summer here. It’s too nice outside, and I feel guilty for not being outside because I spend so much time inside in the winter. Last year, the winter lasted literally eight months. It was awful.
But I guess it makes me make good art, or at least productive art. So, I think I need to live in a place that has seasons. I don’t think I could make the kind of art that I make if not for that.
S&H: What else do you do to survive the winter?
Estée: I try to explore other mediums. I’ve started doing a bit of tapestry, mostly punch-needle work. It’s really fun and really time-consuming, so it’s good to pass the winter. And just trying to explore more textile stuff. I used to snowboard but that’s over. I seriously only make art. That’s all I do.
S&H: That sounds wonderful.
Estée: Well, it can be. It can be a little torturing, too.
S&H: Where do you see your art in 10 years? Do you have any kind of inkling?
Estée: I don’t know. I don’t know. I feel like I can change my mind really quickly. I haven’t been drawing for very long. Before I was making snowboard movies for 10 years. I feel like something could happen and I could just be, like, doing plays or something like that.
S&H: You were a videographer?
Estée: Yes, for a while, since I was 18.
S&H: What made you switch to art?
Estée: Pretty much the American economic crisis. I lost all my outlets there. I didn’t have the funds to do what I was doing.
S&H: But why art—why not teaching or driving a bus?
Estée: I always loved drawing, but not seriously. One time I was in Alaska—my husband is from Alaska—and I didn’t really have much to do. I was in that weird transition after being done making movies. I just started drawing and putting things on Instagram. Honestly, Instagram was the only thing that made it work for me. People just started reaching out. I started getting contracts that way. I got lucky, that’s for sure.