Tag: Toronto

Shop – Passionate Acrylics By Amanda Pesklevy

I am a local artist living in Pickering with roots in the East Coast - New Brunswick.

I have been painting part-time since 2010 and have this year decided to sell my art (with all of the new home offices cropping up this year why not?? 😆).

I am eternally optimistic and encouraging of others. I try to shine bright enough that others can’t hide in the darkness.

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Podcast – Char & a Double-Edged Sword of Feminism

The double-edged sword  

From the moment she's born she starts to get molded by society. The things she's told can have long-term psychological ramifications. Those things are supposedly with her best interest in mind; each instruction adding deeper layers of fear and anxiety.

She's told how to wear her hair, that she needs makeup but she can't wear clothes that are too revealing. She has to wear a bra, close her legs, cross her legs, fix her body and walk like this and she can’t walk like that. She's told not to talk too loudly, but to be assertive, that she can't play with those toys, she has to play with barbies, but all the while telling her she can be anything she wants to be.

Compound that with a capitalist world that sells her beauty to exploit her for money. It’s like that meme of the dude reaching out with a helping hand while holding a knife behind his back. 

That meme represents a system, constantly programming us through the films we watch, the shows we see on tv, the advertisements we are constantly exposed to, the magazines we read, the games we play, the comics we follow, and the social media posts we scroll through, where her looks are currency.

But The boys? 

Boys aren’t men yet. 

Unlike men, boys are more reactive; enslaved by their hormones. She’s seen as an object for conquest and sadly, for us boys, it is an ongoing struggle well into our manhood. The two edges of a sword.

I can only imagine what she feels like when she realizes that she is a prisoner of a system built by men, who didn’t acknowledge her as a human being, centuries ago. A system that only freed her to vote about 100 years ago and allowed her to get more jobs only about 60 years ago. A system where women who get a pass can get it based on beauty and how “girlie” they can be.

Often ignoring who she is and what she can bring to the table.

Body Positivity and Feminism

Char is a Canadian artist who focuses on intersectional feminism and body and sex positivity; it's her way of screaming out against the system. 

I have realized that in a first interview I wasn't able to go as deep as I think this deserves. Tune in in the coming months for a second interview with Char so we can delve deeper.

The title for this podcast is A Double Edged Sword because I remember thinking to myself that I could possibly disrespect her, hurt her. I recognized that I have my own shortcomings, that I, as a male with the conditioning I received, could insult or disrespect her in ways I might not even understand

The world we live in is full of pain and friction. And in this case we add Feminism and the complex responses from male culture, plus the always present lens of race and class.

Enjoy the podcast.

Podcast - Char & a double-edged sword of Feminine

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10 Apps That Increase Productivity

10 Apps That Increase Productivity for Creative Entrepreneurs

Productivity Apps You Need Now!

Time management, scheduling, communication. So many productivity apps exist. As a result, which are the best for online meetings? Which app will help a team collaborate on projects? How can you improve your productivity? Below are ten software programs, extensions and applications you will be grateful to have. Above all, each addresses a specific issue that only you can gauge. Apply them immediately to see how they work for you.

For instance, hate booking a chat with someone? We know almost all of the 'let's grab a coffee!' conversations never quite pan out because we forget to schedule. This first app helps with this of course. Not only do I find follow-through high when booking through Calendly, but also it's an easy to use tool.

10 Apps That Increase Productivity for Creative Entrepreneurs


Since we all have meetings, we need to plan them. But this app is something you probably didn’t know you needed. Tired of back and forth emails trying to book something with someone? A meeting, a coffee, or a photoshoot? Just send them your unique scheduling link based on your calendar availability. Be sure it’s up to date with your work hours, appointments, and time away. Link it to your Google calendar (again keep it updated before sending out the Calendly invite). Then the person picks a date and time, you confirm the location. All in just one email!

Free + Premium https://calendly.com/


Go Fucking Work

Get some fucking work done. Literally. Before you try to spend hours figuring out why you procrastinate or get distracted just block sites like parental control, but for your unproductive self. This Chrome extension will “redirect fucking unproductive sites to motivational messages.” Like, ‘Your dreams are dying, go fucking work.’ You can block time-wasting websites, and every time you walk off the holy path of productivity.

This pop-up will block the noise. There are lots of website blockers if this one is too aggressive, six more here.

Free https://gofuckingwork.com


Be Focused

While staying focused might be a forever problem, if you’re still having trouble staying on task, there are great timer apps. Set the timer and work on only one task for that set time until it’s done. One version called the Pomodoro technique encourages working in 25-minute intervals. Break up individual tasks and finish them. Then separate them with short breaks. This is a great and proven way to retain focus and motivation. Track your progress and goals, throughout the week.

Similarly, try one of 10 other apps that do the same thing here find the one that works for you.

Free  https://setapp.com/apps/be-focused



While you’re freelancing and working with remote teams across the world, you need to know what time zones people are in so you can communicate with them accordingly. You don't want to demand a response when they’re still in bed.

Website: Friends or co-workers' time across multiple timezones, for communicating with remote workers and open source.

Free + Premium https://there.pm/



A simple and powerful time tracker, whether working solo or in teams. Better track where your time goes. Similarly, this is helpful if you're paying someone, or someone's going to be paying you. For that reason, get a better handle on how long projects take to provide accurate estimates for billing. 

Website: Always getting distracted? Use Toggl as your productivity tool. A simple time tracker with powerful reports and it works across all your devices.

Free + Premium https://toggl.com/


Tasks, Teamwork and Collaborating

There are a variety of free and affordable project management or to-do apps. The top ones currently are Trello (create boards, lists, cards to organize tasks in a visual way). Slack (communications replacement for email and file-sharing or collaboration). Asana (task and project management). And, Freedcamp (unlimited task and project management). No clear winner, but each has some unique features and integrations. I personally like Asana and Freedcamp having tried them (not to the fullest capabilities). Trello is a win for creatives. Whereas, Slack is primarily a communications tool. However, you can integrate task management through other apps, with integrations increasing each year.

Free (for a set number of people) + premium


Wave App

Free invoicing and accounting software with credit card processing, and payroll services. The most referenced app from freelance artists. While there are free parts, as with all payment methods, they take a cut. Pay per use 2.9% + 30 cents per transaction, or a monthly payment of $20 base fee + $4 per active employee, and $4 per independent contractor paid. If you’re selling items through Instagram or in person, this is a good option if you’re a small-sized business.

BONUS: it’s born and made in Toronto.

Website: No trials, no catches, and no limits. Accounting, invoicing and receipt tracking software so you can better understand your business finances, for free. Free +

Premium www.waveapps.com/



Helps make images load faster by optimizing the size for specific web content, and it also removes EXIF meta­data.

Website: ImageOptim makes images load faster. Removes bloated metadata. Saves disk space & bandwidth by compressing images without losing quality. 

Free https://imageoptim.com/


Conferencing or Meetings

If you’re having online meetings and need to make it quick, you have a few options: Skype, Google Hangouts, Zoom or AppearIn. Overall, the last two are great because you only have to send one link to the attendee – no login required. Free + Premium



Helps you find specific email addresses when you want to pitch to a prospective client, but don’t go overboard soliciting. Keep it professional. This nifty tool helps you go straight to the decision-maker. Simply search for the company website and it will find available email addresses. Sign up to uncover the email addresses, get the full results, search filters, CSV downloads and more. Website: Hunter is the leading solution to find and verify professional email addresses. Start using Hunter and connect with the people that matter for your business.

Free + Premium Get 100 free searches/month. https://hunter.io/

Lastly, if you have any favourite apps or recommendations, leave a comment below.

How To Stay Motivated In Your Business

How To Stay Motivated In Your Business

Loss of motivation is normal, but trying to get it back and sustain it is like Draymond trying to remember if the Warriors had any timeouts left in the NBA finals. What will affect you is when you have a setback, someone says no, or you compare yourself to others.

When you’re Feeling Demotivation

Damaging thoughts, feelings, or barriers that prevent you from persistent action can cloud your decisions. What direction should you take next? But first, you need to understand yourself and those feelings more closely. Essentially, you have to know why you’re unmotivated and why you want to be motivated.


What will happen if you do not act on your goals?

Starting a website, learning about budgeting, or just starting a new goal. Yet, you haven’t started. Motivation is the reason you feel or have for acting, achieving or completing a goal or task. Motivation is when you keep pushing through, the barriers or pain, even though it gets tough. It can feel like you're behind, dragging behind your opposition, but you never really lose if you went after your goals. The point is you need to differentiate between what you want to do, and if you don't do it. Fast forward ten years in the future, looking back, ask yourself would you have done things differently? Would you have given up on yourself?


What do you feel unmotivated about most today?

Most of the research on motivation confirms it’s not extrinsic rewards motivating people such as money or awards, but intrinsic ones. Internal drives such as a specific goal. For example, supporting your kids and saving for their college, or partaking in something because you find it fascinating. In other words, are you following a trend, to gain social status, or do you want to trust your intuition to create something unique that’s long-lasting? Do you create to gain fame, or do you create because you enjoy the process? First, uncover what you do and do not want, and then answer why.

Kick start your motivation with the tips below. Knowledge is your currency if you have a goal in mind, just make sure you can see the goalposts.


Knowledge Needed to Stay Motivated

  • Know yourself - what connects you to your goals, your likes, dislikes and what you’re good at. Assess where you’re strong and where you’re weak in order to grow yourself and your business. This includes everything from energy, skills, to wellbeing and knowledge. Why do you really want that career or goal? Try the Igaki Venn diagram.


  • Minimize distractions – what are your distractions right now? Friends who call you as you sit down to work - learn how to say no.  Social media, Netflix – use it as a reward after you finish your tasks. Discipline and sacrifice mean you know what your priorities are.


  • Label your emotions – anxiety can be useful to a certain extent, but not when it’s overwhelming. Anxiety is useful before a performance or during planning because it’s a signal you need to provide your very best effort and to be aware of what may happen or to rethink the approach. Likewise, boost positive emotions. Listen to your hype song, dance, use meditation music or have a positive mantra taped to your bathroom mirror. Use your emotions as fuel, understand them better.


  • Identify your rewards (they’re not what you think) – extrinsic rewards such as money, friends, status and moving up a ladder do not sustain motivation as research confirms. Instead, intrinsic motivation helps – what’s the emotional reason behind your goals? Is it the A+ or are you curious to learn? You don’t want social cache; rather you want to highlight an important issue. Do you feel great when you’re sketching or taking photos that you zone out and lose track of time? Continue to focus on Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi's concept of flow.


  • Get Inspired – sometimes we get stuck in our own bubble. Writer’s block or no new ideas landing? Do something completely different. Read a good book, go for a walk, hang out with friends, go to a local gallery, go support your friend’s business, meditate. Slow down and trust that your intuition will lead you back to yourself and the ideas and inspiration will appear under less stress. The point is to keep moving.


  • Work Schedule – it’s hard to get motivated if you don’t know where to start or what to work on. List all your tasks, make a schedule, and plot them for the week. I like to prep the night before and plan only three priority tasks I need to get done for the following day (I also work 9-5). It’s top of mind when I go to sleep and wake up. Do you need to update your portfolio online? What are those pieces? Who do you need to email? Break it into manageable pieces.


  • Failure & Success – if your failure is real, you need to change your behaviour, but if your behaviour is imagined (for e.g. imposter syndrome), then you need to change your thinking. Retrain your negative thought patterns, find your support system, meditate, or to a greater extent assess if you need to seek a therapist. Challenge your interpretation of failure, fear, or doubt because the opposite of failure is resilience - to bounce back even better because you learned what you didn’t know before.


  • Progressive Approaches – we no longer live in a hunter-gatherer world (though it feels that way sometimes). We're living in a time of collaboration, curiosity, open-mindedness, and discovery. If you always approached things one way, try a new way just for fun, even if you’re not going to marry it. In a world where people embrace their multiple interests and gifts, be a ‘multi-potential’ don’t risk remaining small. Be okay with cooperation, community, and understanding yourself, over scarcity, individualization and thinking no one understands you. If you show up, you haven’t failed.


  • Buddy System – accountability goes out the window when it’s me, myself and I. You don’t really have anyone to disappoint, but yourself. Find a like-minded friend or a mentor. Building a responsibility mechanism can give you a boost because there’s healthy pressure to complete something (in a way that’s realistic), or for someone else to review or give you feedback. If you don’t have someone, join a community, or share your work with friends: ‘website launching end of summer,’ and hold yourself accountable to that date.


Progress is a marathon, not a sprint and you have to define your own destination. This process will spark motivation in the direction you want to be taking. Over time, you will sustain the momentum around what fuels you, and overcome what does not.


Bringing it all together, the research on behavioral psychology behind motivation points to the mind-body connection, if “your brain doesn’t understand both the costs of inaction and the benefits of action, you won’t feel very motivated” (Medium).


To sum it up, this is a mental game. You’re not failing you’re always learning. You're not lost, you're curious. You can be demotivated today, but tomorrow is a new day. To improve your motivation, understand what does and does not motivate you as carefully as to how you create your art. Do all of this until it becomes second nature.

5 Toronto Cafes Ideal for Artists in 2018

Whether you’re a painter, writer, actor, performer, musician, or filmmaker, here are top spots to get cozy while expressing your creativity. Our city has a diverse range of cafes throughout different neighbourhoods, but few stand out quite like these. No matter what you’re looking for, be it a place to chill while painting, or share some heartfelt poetry and music, we got you covered.

Art Square Cafe and Creperie

334 Dundas St West

Is it an art gallery? Is it a cafe? A restaurant? It’s a bit of everything. Located in Kensington Market, Art Square Cafe brings the vibe of an art gallery, with dozens of paintings and portraits on its walls, together with a dining area reminiscent of classic Euro vibe, and yes that includes crêpes.

Flying Pony

1481 Gerrard St E

The Flying Pony Gallery is an artist run gallery and coffee shop located in Little India. It features two galleries along with 1600 square feet of exhibition space. The place also serves up great coffee, homemade treats, and it’s renowned for writers and artists alike. Be sure to catch their upcoming annual Art Party, scheduled for December 8th.

Free Times Cafe

320 College St

Free Times Cafe is both recognized as a restaurant and a bar hosting nightly original music, which include open mic sessions and poetry readings. Open since 1980, the space is also known for The Artbar Poetry Series, which takes place every Tuesday.

Fusion Artz Cafe

1767 Avenue Road

A place where you can take classes on ceramics, Fusion Artz Cafe is friendly for a all ages. After you finish making  the piece, they glaze and fire it in their kiln, and it’s ready for pick up after seven days.  They also have snacks and refreshments available. The space is even used for booking private events!

The Harlem Underground

745 Queen St West

Inspired by 1920s Harlem, The Harlem Underground brings you the whole package. Art, music, and incredible food. There’s regular live concerts every week, and Irie Tuesdays, to enjoy a night of live music, poetry, and badass spoken word. Oh and there’s also their Red Stripe, Chicken & Waffles special that evening for $20.

Interview – The Gracefulness of Singer-Songwriter Shanika Maria

Originally from Hamilton, Ontario, Shanika Maria is a young up and coming singer-songwriter. Releasing her first EP Childish Games in 2017, Shanika’s songs have an eclectic folk/pop vibe that’s impossible to categorize. The melody, lyrics and attention to detail has the listener in a trance that you rarely hear elsewhere. The closest to be able to describe her style is like a blend of Florence and the Machine and Nina Simone. “A Proud Woman”, the second single from her upcoming album Subtle Uncertainties just got released October 19th 2018. It opens with a narrator daring to be vulnerable in the face of new love. We sat down with the singer to talk a bit more about her inspirations and her work as an artist.


What type of music do you perform?

I originally was playing folk and acoustic music, performing my original music with a mic and an acoustic guitar. My first EP really embodied my solo performance. It was very stripped down, minimalistic and vocal heavy with accompanying guitar. On that album I played guitar and piano. Lately I've been performing a more eclectic array of genres that borrow from pop, dark country, beach rock, r&b and jazz. I've been able to add new elements and interpretation to the music I write by incorporating these styles. My first album that’s coming out really shows the growth of my writing process and my development as an artist.

What first got you into recording music?

I started recording music in my bedroom as a teenager. Around the middle of highschool, I would use my laptop camera and record songs and put them on youtube. That was my first taste of recording music. Around the same time, I began playing around on garageband, recording rough versions of songs with my vocals, guitar, and adding harmonies. I started performing as a solo artist a couple years ago. I really wanted to do a record and release it - to have a snapshot of where I was at musically at that point in time. Out of that, came Childish Games.

Have you had the chance to tour and/or perform any shows? If so, what has the experience been?

I have performed in Hamilton, Toronto and in Victoria. My experience has been mostly positive. I really enjoy performing even though I do get really nervous before shows. My best performances are when I escape into the world of my music and it becomes this really intimate experience.

When did you realize this was something you wanted to do?

I've always been interested in music as a hobby. I never thought it would be something I would pursue. 6 years ago I was asked to sing back up vocals for a band. From then on, I really enjoyed performing. I decided to start performing solo and for the past two years, make it something I actually pursue.

Is anyone in your family a musician?

Not really, both my parents have dabbled on the guitar and my sister played piano as a child, but none of them have really continued playing music.

How do you find the music industry in Toronto?

I think it can be very daunting navigating the music scene in Toronto especially as a solo act. There are many artists with similar styles and it's hard to stand out. I think focusing on what I'm doing is the only way to keep level headed about it all, but I'm still figuring it out.

Who are some of your musical influences?

I have a lot of musical influences, like Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Joni Mitchell, Emily Haines, Feist, Lianna La Havas, Marvin Gaye, and there's a lot more.


Shanika Maria on social media:



Official Website

Where to listen:





5 Movies from TIFF 2018 to Watch Out For

With another year in festivals almost passed, it’s  time to look at some of the new film releases. Handpicked from 2018’s Toronto International Film Festival, we’ve been lucky to see more and more work that showcase characters and storylines that are not only relatable, but that still allow us to fantasize about the possibilities that the world of cinema has to offer.

The Fireflies are Gone

Director: Sébastien Pilote

Starring Karelle Tremblay, Pierre-Luc Brilliant

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

We kick off our list with a French-Canadian coming-of-age flick La disparition des lucioles, which follows Léo, a teenage girl who longs to escape her dull home life in a small town in rural Quebec. As her high school graduation gets closer, she befriends an older musician named Steve, who teaches her guitar and gives her an outlet to become the person she longs to be. In between all this, Léo experiences frustration with her stepfather, a locally known talk show host who’s on the side of the political divide that caused her union worker dad to leave town. Despite its raw subject matter, the film still manages to hold a certain air of fantasy, which allows us to better connect with the main protagonist.

Theatrical Release: Unknown, Independent screenings across Quebec September 28th-October 4th 2018



Edge of the Knife

Directors: Gwaai Edenshaw, Helen Haig-Brown

Starring Tyler York

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Making history as the first film spoken only in dialects of the Haida language, the story of Sgaawaay K’uuna is set in 19th century Haida Gwaii (on what’s now considered the Pacific East Coast of Canada), and is based off a myth of the Haida people. It  follows two large families on a fishing retreat. Kwa’s son is tragically killed in an accident caused by Adiits’ii (York) a nobleman. Tormented by guilt, Adiits’ii goes off into the wild and becomes the supernatural being Gaagiixiid. Despite everything, the families put all their efforts to have him turned back into human form. What makes this film even more compelling, is when we consider that right now less than twenty people in the Haida Gwaii community speak the Haida language fluently. Most of the cast had to learn it to appear in the film. Luckily it’s being taught once again in local schools, with elders hoping new generations will be able to preserve this part of their culture. Let’s hope Edge of the Knife gets some kind of distribution deal.

Theatrical Release: Unknown, Currently showing in different festivals




Director: Steve McQueen

Starring Viola Davis, Michelle Rodriguez, Elizabath Debicki, Liam Neeson

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Inspired by the 1980s tv series of the same name, the story begins with Veronica Rawlins (Davis) and her husband, Harry (Neeson). The story quickly cuts to a bank heist gone wrong that causes three robbers to be led to their death. Rawlins is left widowed, with a $2 million debt. The wives band together to finish what they started by organizing a heist themselves, but unlike typical heist movies, here were offered a cold glimpse into the reality of these women. Being in a society that taught us it’s every man/woman/person to themselves, has forced them to do the unthinkable, all to be able to survive and come out on top. 

Theatrical Release: November 16th 2018



The Hate U Give

Director: George Tillman Jr.

Starring Amandla Stenberg, Algee Smith

Image and video hosting by TinyPic

Based on the novel by Angie Thomas, here we follow Starr (Stenberg), a teenage girl born and raised in a lower class neighbourhood with a mostly black community. Yet between that she attends prep school, where most students are white. The tension between both worlds gets shattered, when one night her best friend Khalil (Smith) is shot by police, forcing her to step into a role that involves standing up for what’s right. The film manages to bring to the forefront issues around race that are often easily swept under other narratives. Unlike other similar titles, it doesn’t gloss over the reality of the main character and instead allows the audience completely into her world.

 Theatrical Release: October 12th 2018



A Star is Born

Director: Bradley Cooper

Starring Bradley Cooper, Lady Gaga

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In his directorial debut, Bradley Cooper stars  alongside Lady Gaga in the fourth adaptation of the classic story. Not quite a remake, each generation gets a version of a similar plot, which involves a male musician suffering from alcohol issues who encounters an aspiring actress and singer. What each adaptation brings to the table, depends on what era it is. Country singer Jackson Maine (Cooper) hears waitress Ally (Gaga) performing in a drag club one night. The two of them hit it off from there, and Ally becomes a music star when Jackson brings her on stage during one of his concerts. The adaptation manages to be relatable, while still offering hope in a time in modern history where not a lot of people have the chance to dream, and the soundtrack is brilliant.

Theatrical Release: October 5th 2018


5 Places Toronto Artists Can Go To Create Art in 2018

5 Places Toronto Artists Can Go To Create Art

Sometimes you just need to get out of your living space to explore new artistic ideas. Or maybe your house doesn't have the space you need to work. Whatever your reason to get out, here are five places you can go when working on your art at home just isn't an option:

The Toronto Public Library

The library is a great place to go if you prefer a quieter space; it's ideal for the planing stages of projects, simple sketching, or use of other dry mediums. The library usually has a variety of long tables to work at as well as a number of cozy armchairs nestled in quiet corners if all you're looking for is a spot to doodle in your sketchbook. While this space might not be ideal for your large painting or sculpting projects (the librarians will likely frown upon your messier endeavours), this space is the perfect spot if what you need is four different walls to take your sketchbook and headphones.

A Pub, Coffee Shop, or Bar

This is one of my favourite options because it allows you to set up work dates with friends! There's nothing nicer than sharing ideas with other artists over an ice cold pint or cider. The benefits of this space also include the availability of table space and the option of snacks. Like the library, this space is not ideal for larger or messier projects, but you can likely get away with working on smaller watercolor pieces and covert life drawing; public spaces offer the opportunity to sketch the many other patrons of the space.

A Park or Field

Landscape artists look no further! A public park or field offers the perfect opportunity for a picnic while you work. Provided your supplies can be packed up neatly, this is also the perfect place for you to do your larger paintings and other wet medium work without worrying about paint fumes. You can rest wet brushes in the grass, set up your easel, and get creative! The green space offers opportunities to capture your local flora in natual light.

A Friend's House

Taking turns working out of one another's houses can help to keep you motivated to produce more art; your friend is there to keep you accountable. Your artist friends will also likely have a functional work space that you can use to work on a variety of projects (wet or dry mediums) and possibly new materials for you to use and experiment with. If you're good enough friends, they might even provide snacks!

An Artist Co-Op Space/Studio

This is probably the most difficult space to find; you'll need to do some research to locate spots in your city that function as a place for artists to congregate. Frequently university and college campuses will have studio space available for use, but you may need to be a student (or have a friend that is a student) to use it. Public co-op spaces sometimes charge a rental fee or a monthly membership fee in order to use the space, but sometimes this will be your only option if you're working on large exhibition-style art or massive paintings.