— by Angelina Perino —
Cathy Coufakis’ work caught my eye from the first moment I came across it (on Instagram!) and I’ve been nothing short of in love with it ever since. Her illustrations express the beautiful strength of a woman in such a simple, yet powerful way. Her work is the type that speaks for itself and stuns the eye. This former make-up artist of twenty years has a talent for capturing the feminine spirit in her creations and I am so happy to share the beauty of her work in this feature. Learn more about Cathy’s creative process, thoughts on intention and purpose, and her life in her beloved Montreal, Canada, in the interview below.
Angelina: Where are you from originally?
Cathy: I was born and raised in Montreal, Canada. I still live just outside the city.
A: When did you first become interested in the visual arts? At what point did you know it was what you were meant to do?
C: I was drawing and sketching since I can remember; it was my favourite thing to do. I would always draw in class and contribute art to year books and school fairs. I was very lucky to have teachers in high school and college who encouraged me and gave me the extra push. I only recently decided to pursue the arts full time, I worked as a makeup artist for 20 years which is reflected in my artwork.
A: What does it mean to you to be a creator?
C: Creating with my hands, pencil, paint on paper or makeup on skin, means a lot to me. Both of my parents worked with their hands. My mom was trained as a couturier and my dad worked in carpentry.
A: Describe your creative process.
C: I work with images that inspire me, first. I need a visual; I use it as a base but it can morph into something different. I start with a pencil sketch, then add watercolour, acrylic, or collage over it.
A: A lot of artists have varying opinions when it comes to the purpose of making art. Would you say your work is something you do for yourself or to share with the world?
C: I have to say that it’s both. I always create something that inspires me and luckily, it seems to be connecting with others, which is awesome.
A: What does it feel like to take a concept, a thought or a moment of inspiration and turn it into a work of art?
C: It always comes from a place of inspiration, so it’s a great feeling from the start. Even if I’m working off of an image, I usually have a different image in my mind that I want to create. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t, which can be frustrating. When it does work out, though, it is a great feeling. Although, I must say that some of my most popular pieces that really resonate with others were not originally my favourites.
A: From what do you draw your inspiration?
C: I am currently creating artwork that is inspired by fashion illustration, but I am mostly inspired by vintage fashion. I love to explore eras and a little bit of fantasy art. I am also very influenced by music.
A: Describe your journey of becoming the artist you are today.
C: I think my journey started with my career as a make up artist and all the amazing experiences I had — from backstage fashion shows to body painting. Starting my career as a visual artist came at the right time with the exposure gained from social media. There are definitely high and low moments, but mostly I am doing this because it is a creative outlet, which is an amazing feeling. The positive feedback is a plus!
A: What advice would you offer to artists reading this?
C: Make art that inspires you and that moves you. It has to come from a personal place. Even if you’re hired to create something commercial, make it personal.
A: What are three things you can not live without?
C: My family (my man and kids!), paper, and music.
A: If you could live and make your art in any city in the world, which would you choose?
C: I have traveled and I always come back to Montreal. But I think that Athens, Greece is an exciting place for the arts right now.
A: What quote inspires you and keeps you grounded?
C: “Wanting to be someone else is a waste of the person you are” – Kurt Cobain.
I love that one. It’s especially relevant now, because we live in an era where we are constantly comparing ourselves to all of these images and personalities that we encounter online, and it can be defeating.
A: If you can offer words of wisdom to a younger Cathy, what would you say to her?
C: I have no regrets, but I would definitely tell myself not to take things so seriously, don’t be afraid, and just go for it!
See more of Cathy’s gorgeous creations —
| all photos by Cathy Coufakis
And as always, follow The Artists’ Cove on Instagram for daily photos, updates and behind the scenes content: @theartistscove