Raised in British Columbia, artist Laura Bifano studied at the Alberta College of Art and Design and has worked as a concept artist, storyboard artist, and editorial illustrator. Our local mountain ranges often serve as her inspiration and she says she hopes “to capture the experience of moving through these landscapes as a tiny fragile human”.
Laura Bifano is one of ten artists we selected to be part of a community plan project by BlueSky Properties in Downtown Surrey called PARKWAY. Their mission is to bring community to life in Surrey, and for us, a focus on art and culture is what leads to a truly vibrant and activated community. With this in mind, we are using their new sales centre to highlight art and artists inspired by life here in BC. You can read more about the project here.
Booooooom: How would you describe your work to someone who has never seen it?
Laura Bifano: I’m not sure how to begin! It’s tough taking a step back and objectively assessing your own work sometimes. I’ll give it my best shot! “Graphic landscapes that look digital but aren’t” Or “Stylized nature scenes made out of blobs and angular shapes.”
"Making art is having a conversation with yourself. It’s a constant question and answer exchange that eventually culminates in a finished piece."
What is your motivation for making things? Why do you create?
Making art is having a conversation with yourself. It’s a constant question and answer exchange that eventually culminates in a finished piece. Sometimes it’s a good way to stay grounded and connected with your inner soul-nugget. On a good day it’s a meditative and calming experience, on a bad day it’s like a wrestling match with all your self doubts and anxieties. Having a deadline helps for sure. I usually make all my work when I’m doing a new show — or if it feels more like play — often when we’re out hiking I’ll bring along a little plein air kit so I can noodle away at low-stakes little pieces.
My professional art practice is more financially motivated. I work a day job in animation so with that, it’s much more important to separate yourself from the work.
Can you share a little context for a couple of the artworks we purchased for the space?
“Bugaboos” and “Tusk Ridge” were both done for my 2018 solo show “Altars” at Kafka’s. “Bugaboos” was the feature piece of the show, being the biggest thing I have worked on to date. For both pieces I was thinking about the interaction between stone and sky — how some of these massifs can almost create their own weather — and as always, how to move the viewer’s eye around using light and shadow.
"I remember one turning point was a roadtrip out to the interior — as the scenery rolled by I thought to myself 'Man, maybe I should just paint landscapes.'"
How has living here in BC inspired you?
Living in BC has inspired me a huuuuge amount! BC is where I grew up, but I didn’t fully appreciate it until I left for the prairies to go to college and then moved back. We’re so lucky here to have as much access to nature as we do.
Vancouver is where I became an adult, got married, made friends and calcified into the crusty old lady I am today. I remember one turning point was a roadtrip out to the interior — as the scenery rolled by I thought to myself “Man, maybe I should just paint landscapes.”
With everything that is happening virtually these days, how important is it for you to still be part of a local arts community?
Very important! I try and chat with my friends back in BC at least once a week. With COVID it’s been super weird, of course. Especially moving to a new city right in the thick of things. We haven’t really made a lot of inroads into the Ottawa art community. Mostly I try and unplug and focus on tangentially-creative hobbies like making my own clothes. I’m on zoom literally all day so it’s nice to focus on something tactile once in a while.
What’s one goal you have for this next year?
My original goals for this year were to finish my solo show and buy a house in a little mountain town, and we’ve done both! The new goal is just to settle down and re-center after 2 years of uncertainty. I can slowly feel my batteries recharging and want to start making some looser unstructured work again.
What about one thing you’d like to accomplish in your lifetime?
I’d love to somehow get paid to do a more expedition style trip where I’m there to document the landscapes, and then do a solo show based on the work. Baffin island has been a long-time dream, although I am afraid of polar bears. Professionally, I’d really like to art direct on a feature film.