Created around the same premise as our BLA! (Brewing Local Artists) event, the Artist in Residence program is here to help generate exposure for Gold Coast artists, and to engage and inspire our community with the depth of creative talent that exists here on the Coast. This month, our Artist in Residence
is the incredible Toren Vansleve.

A career in the creative industry was a natural progression for Gold Coast local Toren Vansleve, who has been surrounded by art from a young age. Specialising in mixed media relief, Toren utilises different materials that challenge her to develop new ideas and techniques. 

Can you tell us a little about your artistic background – where it all started?
Thanks to my family, I’ve always been surrounded by art. My mum used to draw and my dad has always had businesses based in creative industries, so regardless if I wanted to be immersed in it or not, it was always bound to happen. From there I was always involved in music and arts throughout my schooling life and taking it one step further when I had decided at 15 years of age that I wanted to be a graphic designer. At the time, I didn’t know what that was exactly, I had just asked my mum “who makes the labels on cans of food, because I want to do that”, it’s probably not the smartest idea to base your future career around canned food but its worked out pretty well so far.

Much of your work involves digital illustration. Can you explain the process behind creating artwork incorporating digital tools?
Well truth be told, I can’t draw. I am simply totally amazed at fine artists who can draw or paint super realistic subjects, I just don’t have it in me. Digital illustration is perfect for me because I can draw, delete it and then start again. I work messy so it really helps being able to move and change things after the initial portrait or subject has been drawn. I’m very indecisive, so going digital allows me to chop and change colours and styles. Creating digital illustrations also allows me to collage a bunch of images together and create references before I start drawing.

You do a lot of work using mixed media relief  often incorporating timber as your medium. How did mixed media relief and use of timber and other tactile materials evolve in your artwork?
Although I am totally reliant on digital forms to create my designs, there is nothing better than holding something physical in your hands. I love the challenge of designing something on screen and then figuring out how to turn it into something tactile. In my field of work, I am lucky enough to be surrounded by a large variety of substrates (in particular timber), so this has definitely has a large impact on me creatively. Timber has a beautiful warmth to it, myself and everyone I work with is obsessed with it so utilising the option to include it in my work was a no brainer.

You’re a professional graphic designer. What’s it like being able to combine your passion for design within your career?
My professional work and personal work usually meld into one. If I have a new concept or production method in my personal work, I usually find a reason to use it at work. This way I can always be developing new ideas and techniques which keeps my professional and personal work mentally stimulating. As I’m sure most designers would agree, some days you have it some days you don’t and it can be draining at times, so trying to keep it fresh in both your professional and personal work is important. Every job has its highs and lows but I’m lucky I can go to work every day and do something I can wholeheartedly enjoy.

Is there an artist that has heavily influenced you or provided you with inspiration? 
Nowadays I think we are all a little spoilt for choice when it comes to finding inspiration. With mediums such as Pinterest and Instagram, it’s hard not to find something interesting to look at. You can find inspiration almost anywhere or talking to anyone but I guess people like Lisa King, Audrey Kawasaki, James Jean, and fuel, Thomas Hedger and Andrew Archer to name a few are all artists that have influenced me in one way or another. There are also a ton of local Gold Coast creatives who are killing it and its infectious to be around.

Last updated 30 September 2020


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