That Creative Magic Spell: A Conversation with Multidisciplinary Artist Nania Sergi

“I have been into art from a young age. I kept a lot of things like glitters”, multidisciplinary artist Nania Sergi says as she points towards those shiny dots lying on the floor. Basked in daylight they mirror the joy known only to those who dream and hustle hard to make them a reality.

Like an invitation I was drawn to reconnect with an old university friend to uncover the magic of creativity. This conversation happened around homemade mint tea with no added sugar. It started like this:

“I do watercolor art, I also do commissioned work”.

Really what kind of work?

Cat portraits.

What? Did you find it weird at first?

When I first got asked, I thought it was funny. I can do realistic paintings but it’s not where my interest lies in the moment so I made them into these characters.

Did you ever see yourself working for someone else?

I did. When I finished my bachelor’s degree I worked for an animation and video effects company. I made a lot of friends.

That’s always a good thing! 

Yes and prior to that I also worked in a non-profit organization as a digital literacy teacher.

I’ve always been the type to do my own things. I don’t remember  if it was my father or a friend who suggested me to apply for an entrepreneurship bursary. Then I got it and it helped jump-start my own business.

How did you get started?

Mostly through word of mouth, through friends…One of the first cool contracts I did was a collaboration with a singer/songwriter, her name is Allyson Reigh. It was a really cool project. She spent two weeks coming over to my house every day (she was in Montreal at the time). I did all the artworks and photos for her album. It was great to create a visual identity for someone, for an artist, for a project, for songs, to build a world of visuals around it.

Digital illustration

How would you describe your work?

As much as possible, I try to do work that’s very honest and authentic. I try to do things that are meaningful while keeping it playful. I’m just doing me, so far, just doing me has kept me busy.

What keeps you going because you know it’s not easy and it would be way easier to find a 9 to 5 job?

That’s the thing, it wouldn’t. I did it and I was not happy. It’s hard but it’s easier for me in the sense that I’m happier with my life. I want to wake up and feel excited and happy, maybe not always thrilled but I want to find joy in what I do. I mean… Sometimes I do get scared and want to back away to find myself a normal job but then I think about it and there is no way I could sit in front of a computer all day. I would escape by the window!

Assistant Art Director: Nania Sergi

How do you define creativity and apply it in your career?

The ability to get up and step back and do that consistently. To find the courage to just do that thing over and over while making sure it’s always interesting and relevant.

I think creativity is the conscious search and application for change. And not just change for the sake of change but to better respond to the challenge. To engage with circumstances, sometimes uneasy circumstances cause life has its set of challenges but to do that with humour. Also, create the space and time for people to get involved and be curious.

Art Director: Nania Sergi

What other fun projects have you been working on lately?

An experimental documentary. I have been working with Jamie Woollard, my collaborator on this sort of non-linear narrative story for 2 years. It involves ice skating and glitters at the Molson Park. I first met Jamie while she worked on a project where she destroyed her century old piano. I have two keys left in my dining room actually.  

What’s the one creative advice or tip you wish you had been given when you graduated?

The beauty of taking breaks. Yeah, breaks are really really useful and nobody has ever told me about that!

When did you realize that breaks were useful?

When I hurt myself last Spring. It took me time to stop because I was like no, I’m gonna keep going and keep going and I got tendonitis on both hands so I had to stop and it was really hard because I’m a creative…I’m mean it’s part of what I do with my life. Then I started using a recording to record sounds. I had to be creative without using my hands and it was scary. But something that came out of that was: Man we’re human beings first! No matter how important, meaningful and splendid your work is you have to eat three meals a day and sit down. We’re mere mortals even though I wish I was a superhero. So yeah the beauty of breaks is something I learned.

I also play sports more now, meditate, do yoga and run. And all these things have made my life and my work better. Since they’re connected. You can’t just do one thing and expect it to be good. You actually have to breath and yeah take a break.

It’s the same thing as negative space in a painting. Without the negative space you don’t see the elements.

Words: Jessica Beauplat

Photos: Jessica Beauplat, Courtesy Nania Sergi