It was a pleasure to chat with Calgary-raised artist Brie Adkins.
You might be tempted to call her the Mural Queen of Entwistle — the town of about 400 in west-central Alberta — given how many she’s painted in town in her nearly seven years living there.
But she’s so much more than that and I hope our chat demonstrates that!
[Featured Artwork: Evansburg mural by Brie Adkins.]
The following responses are lightly edited for length and clarity.
01. Rock, paper, or scissors?
Scissors. Definitely scissors. I just cut my bangs with scissors the other night.
02. What are three interesting facts about you?
A. Directly before I was an artist full-time and a mother, I actually was cleaning oil spills. I went from high school to getting a machinist ticket from NAIT and come from a ticketed oilfield background.
B. I have twin boys. Everyone seems to know that. They’re 6. They’re identical. They might be mirror-image identical because one’s a lefty and one’s a righty. That’s kinda cool, or at least I think so.
C. I’ll be going to Spain in September for an artist residency and I have not travelled internationally otherwise. I have one trip in my youth to the States so my first big travel is Spain.
03. Is art your career or a hobby? Something else?
It’s something else. It’s like if I couldn’t work and I was bedridden and not capable of a hobby I would still be an artist. It’s not really something that will change. I think it will just grow or develop, but I don’t think I’ll lose it. You can quit a job and move on to something new, but being an artist is part of who I am. It’s an essence. It’s also a pretty good career.
04. Are you more productive at night or in the morning?
At night. It’s not unheard for me to be up to 3 in the morning working. Probably because of the busy-ness of the day with the kids. I don’t necessarily need to run off of a lot of sleep . I might be more effective if I had more sleep but I don’t tend to run off of a lot of sleep.
05. What is the main medium you use in your art?
*laughs* That’s a hard one honestly because I’ve been doing a lot of murals but I’ve only been doing murals for about two summers now. It’s fairly new to me. I do a lot of acrylic painting and then there is dichroic resin work that I do. So, I have quite a big range of work right now.
Because of my industrial background, I am enjoying the mural work a lot more. When you’re doing a full big wall , you’re using your using your body, doing more hands on work and physical work. It’s nice. Some people wouldn’t think so, but I do. *laughs*
06. Where did your passion for art start?
I have records from when I was a kid in school that I would be an artist when I grew up. So I guess it goes back to being a kid in Calgary. I went to a school called Balmoral Junior High and it was an arts-based school. I was only there for one year but they had all the arts programs and really good art teachers. I really started to see potential in myself while I was there, I sold my first drawing there to a classmate.
07. What is your go-to band or artist?
I really like Norah Jones and the Tragically Hip — a little bit softer but my music taste is all over the place. Actually, as a go-to I’ll usually let Soundcloud do its thing and I get what I get sometimes.
08. What would be the most annoying thing about having yourself as a roommate?
Oh my gosh. *laughs* I’m a neat freak but I’m not very neat. I have good intentions but I don’t have a lot of time.
09. What inspires your art?
I really like nature and pulling references from nature. But, more than that, there’s a lot of symbology in nature too. That extends to the cosmos and everything like that too. Sometimes I’ll get wrapped up in Greek mythology and then I’ll look at what modern stories and symbolism are behind things and I’ve been trying to pack a lot of that into my work lately but it always comes back down to nature.
10. What is the most unique thing about the city you live in?
I am in Entwistle (Alberta) and it’s a smaller town. The most unique thing at this point is I have 5 or 6 murals in this town so far. We also have a really cool river that a lot of people float down and raft down. And, we have a really good campground, so we have the nature aspect to enjoy.
But also the art aspect. When you come into Entwistle, there are two murals right there and there are more businesses getting their own. I feel like I might accidentally paint the whole town. That’s not my intention but I think that might happen. *laughs*
I’m trying to make a free wall space here too.
11. What is one common misconception about being an artist?
I don’t know. There’s so many. Maybe what an acceptable rate is for art. For murals the least I have been offered for work is minor league baseball tickets, the most I have been asked to budget within is $40, 000. This divide is kind of wild and I wonder why it happens.
12. What household chore do you actually enjoy?
Laundry. And don’t tell my husband, ok?
The balance for household chores and work is a weird mix with kids as well as being self-employed. So, I’ve dedicated Mondays to housekeeping and a lot of that has to do with the big mountain of laundry that has to get washed and folded. It kind of grounds me to know that Mondays are the days for cleaning, especially with a wild schedule. I’ll usually put on an art podcast or skillshare class although lately I’ve been doing Spanish lessons through YouTube. It’s a couple hours of my own time and I get to do something I love while doing something that I don’t love so much.
13. What app do you use most often?
14. Creating the art is one thing, but finding clients is another. Have you cracked the business side of art?
Yes. Healthy optimism (is key). And really knowing how to send an email and build relationships. For the mural world, it just seems the more people you know and the more people you talk to helps it grow. Going into meetings professionally, being insured, having credentials, ability to do a good quote and a good invoice makes all the difference. So, for the business side of things, you just have to be business-like. It doesn’t really jive always with the artist side but if you can learn how to bring your own flavor into it you’ll be gold.
15. What would be your first question or thought after waking up from being cryogenically frozen for 100 years?
The first thing that would come to mind would be: “Where’s my family?” I’m sure there would be lots of other interesting questions, but family would be first thing to come to mind. I was almost sad thinking about it. Did they come? Were they frozen to?
16. What’s something you’ve been meaning to try but just haven’t got around to?
Pottery. I have always wanted to. I have a really good friend that will let me come and use her studio, guide me in, and let me use her equipment. I’ve always wanted to try it but I just haven’t gotten around to doing it. I think half the reason is that I feel like it would be addictive. I really love pottery; behind me is like a whole wall of mugs. I think I like the idea of the goopiness of it, but I don’t want to unlock Pandora’s Box. I’ll have to have a little more time.
17. What is your favorite drink?
Water and coffee. And sometimes water in coffee cups.
18. What do you hope people get out of your art?
Oh, I like this question.
You know how in movies there’s product placement and then you get subliminal messages coming through that. For the murals that I’m doing, I’m hoping that I’m making people happier everyday through subliminal happiness or maybe to encourage them to dream bigger, be creative, and follow their passions.
I just hope more people are uplifted, especially in the dead of winter. Let’s do a really bright colorful mural when everything else is white so people don’t feel sadness about the white and the gray.