Courtney Senior is a self taught abstract artist and Founder of #ArtandFound – a social/art project based out of Toronto.
A minimalist at heart, Courtney focuses on color and movement to evoke emotion from her work and has been featured in various international art shows, galleries and publications such as GQ, House and Garden and VoyageMIA.
From sharing her creative process to her inspiration Courtney tells us all…
Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
I am a self-taught abstract artist located in Toronto, Canada. Ever since I was little I would immerse myself in creative activities – from colouring and drawing to painting and writing. Despite my passion for the arts, as I got older it took a backseat to sports. While I was in university, I experienced several years of severe anxiety, which led me back to art. It seemed to be the only thing that would ease my angst and bring my mind back to serenity. As my anxiety subsided and as I pursued my career in marketing, painting was pushed to the sidelines again; that is until my late twenties when I lost my father in a sudden accident and went through very difficult life changes. From that moment on, I spent every free minute I had painting. I used it as an opportunity to put all of the emotions I couldn’t express verbally into a form that helped my grieve and ultimately helped me heal.
I created so many pieces of artwork that my condo quickly became a studio. At first, selling my work did not seem like an option. I didn’t know where to start, it seemed like a scary road of trying to figure out where to sell, how to market myself, pricing, shipping, packaging etc. And I wasn’t in it for the money, I loved creating and loved sharing it with people. So, I thought why not just give it away. But as a marketer I knew I should come up with something that made more of an impact, had some longevity to it and could be tracked. So, I initiated a social project called #ArtandFound. I would neatly package up my work with a note on the outside that read “Hello, I’m an original abstract painting in need of a loving home. FREE ART #ArtandFound.” I would also leave a note on the inside saying who I was, what the painting was about and contact information for anyone who wanted to follow up with me. I would leave them around different neighbourhoods in the city and hope that someone would pick them up. The response was so incredible that eventually it gave me the confidence to open an Etsy shop. The first day I posted my work, someone purchased a painting. I was overwhelmed with excitement and I haven’t look back since. That was 5 years ago and I still spend every spare minute I have painting and building my business.
That’s an incredible story. Can you tell us more about how you’ve used marketing and social media to build your art business and grow your reach?
I live and breath marketing and social media on a daily business, so I have been fortunate enough to apply the tricks of the trade to my art business. As I mentioned, I started out on ETSY, which I think is an easy and quick and way for new artists to get started. I also sell on Saatchi and ArtFinder which are more targeted and very credible artist platforms to get your work out into the world. However, once I had a bit more time, I built my own website. I think that having control over your brand is important and also it frees you from commission fees. I was able to consolidate all of my work in one place, post client reviews, upcoming exhibitions and media coverage to build credibility, started running marketing campaigns and sales and really focused in on my SEO strategy. Understanding website analytics and how to drive website traffic is crucial and I constantly update my content based on trends, audience and inspiration from others.
The key driver of traffic for my website is Instagram. I spend a lot of time maintaining my profile and making note of what’s working and what’s not. There are so many Instagram tips I have, but in short, I have found the key to success is research, trial and error, quality content, consistency, focusing on the right metrics and engagement. I deep dive into these in my blog: 6 Tips to Improve Your Instagram Game.
As I started to grow my followers and website traffic, there were a myriad of marketing opportunities that followed from events and galleries to sponsorships and collaborations. When it comes to these, I am cautious, but not skeptical. Not all of them are credible, not all of them make sense for me, but I am definitely more of a “yes” artist than “no.” I believe you should take advantage of as many opportunities as you can, how else are you going to learn what works for your business and your brand. If it doesn’t work out, then stop and move on to something else.
Thank you for sharing. As you can tell we love your work. What inspires you?
Energy is the essence of all of my work. No matter what the source, the energy I embody from daily experiences, musings, encounters and often music, is what I am trying to convey through color and movement. You can see the energy change across my work; reflected in numerous varying color palettes and composition. This change is a direct reflection of my journey through life, the highs, the lows and everything in between.
Can you share your creative process with us?
All of my work is derived from spontaneous movement. I start with a blank canvas and a fairly pinpointed color palette and I just let it flow. I don’t overthink or plan composition. The moment I start to dictate my movement is the moment I ruin the entire piece of work. These pieces I created for VIDA are truly unique. Each pieces is derived from a sculpture using paint skins. The paint skins were created using a similar technique I apply to canvas. I then used macro photography to create one of kind abstract photographs.
What made you want to explore art-inspired fashion?
I love the idea of applying my art to something new. It is a different kind of artistic process and a new opportunity to extend my creativity. Using clothing as my canvas allowed me to discover new ways of exploring my artwork, through color, composition and various materials. I love that it gives people a new way of appreciating art from artists around the world.
Who are your biggest influences?
Honestly, I cannot narrow it down to anyone in particular. I am truly astonished by the amount of insanely talented people in the world. I follow the journey and success of innumerable artists, writers, comedians, musicians and business people, all of whom inspire me on a daily basis. These people motivate me in artistic ways that may influence my work directly but also in drive, dedication and entrepreneurial-ism.
Any other artists on Instagram that we should keep an eye out for?
Definitely! Some of my favorites are:
Artists you’d like to be compared to?
There are so many artists that inspire me to push my creative boundaries whether through colors, movement, technique and even their entrepreneurial spirit. The truth is I never want to be compared to any other artist no matter how talented. My work is a reflection of my person experiences and through this I have developed a continuously evolving technique that is my lens on life.
How do you know when a work is finished?
This is by far the most challenging part of being an artist. It really depends on my flow state. Sometimes a piece will come together so perfectly in composition and color that stopping just seems natural. Other times, I will contemplate the piece for days before deciding if it’s done. What I know for sure is to never force creativity. As soon as I do that, you can guarantee that piece will never see the light of day. Sometimes, stepping back is the best thing you can do to get a fresh perspective.
What does your art aim to say?
This is my interpretation of life and trying to find beauty, meaning and mindfulness in both the simplicities and complexities of daily life.
Why partner with VIDA?
Art is a powerful thing. Whether its painting, designing or even wearing, it has a way of bringing people together around the world. VIDA is a perfect example of this. I am thrilled to be able to extend my artistic passion with another group of people looking to interconnect creativity on a global scale.
What about the VIDA story/philosophy resonated with you?
I love that VIDA stands for so much more than just selling clothing and accessories. It’s about connecting artists on a global scale, creating something truly unique and with the utmost quality craftsmanship. But above all else VIDA is doing their part to make the world a better place by improving environmental sustainability and providing education and literacy programs to people across the globe. That’s an easy philosophy to get on board with.