INTERVIEW WITH TORI SWANSON
Tori Swanson is an international intuitive artist based in Squamish, BC, with collectors worldwide. She is also an artist coach, passionate about helping creatives become profitable. We collaborated with Tori on our first ever artist collaboration, creating 14k gold and sterling silver pieces that feature her signature abstract silhouettes in colourful resin.
Before the launch of the collection, we caught up with Tori to learn more about her art practice, what inspired the collection, and what to expect from the art class she created for the Wolf Circus IGTV.
[CW: Tori discusses eating disorders in the interview that follows.]
Wolf Circus: Your approach to your art practice is unique, with a focus on energy and healing embedded in your work. Can you tell us more about how your intuitive art practice developed and what it looks like today?
Tori Swanson: I believe all artwork is symbolic. It's a snapshot in time, how could we not want that in and around our lives? Art exists for pleasure and joy. It's also a secret language, one that can never be decoded unless we are truly present with it and open up to feel the experience. A lot of time we try to know it and that's not exactly how I picture our interaction with art but it is being human. We try so desperately to make sense of every situation when sometimes there isn't an answer. We over complicate life.
I remember also being into art and painting in a childish way. No matter where life took me I was always drawn back to the canvas. I did a year of fine art school but I dropped out because I was in such denial about my passion and I never thought a BFA would take me anymore. I carried so much judgement.
I ended up moving to NYC and studying Fashion Communications at FIT. It was an amazing experience and I thoroughly enjoyed the academia but I was very sick with anorexia and I had to move home to heal. NYC swallowed me up whole. I'm so grateful I decided to stay home because I was able to reconnect with my artwork as a form of rehab amongst seeing specialists.
I remember being in art school and being particularly good at figure drawing. My teacher always showed off my work to the class because I picked up my own style instantaneously, like I had done it before. So, when I was on the road to mending, I started dropping into art classes and figure studies because it was also allowing me to have contact with what bodies look and feel like. I was so drawn to the models' confidences that I wanted whatever they were having, but instead I was so ashamed of my body I hid.
I eventually had my very first art show, where I noticed my nude portraits sold like hot cakes. I eventually had women ask to have their portrait done and I agreed. That's how my business started by men, women, individuals and couples coming to me to have their figures drawn. Eventually I started to develop confidence with painting and I picked my brush back up and allowed myself to play with colour and I've never looked back.
Around the time I was thinking about quitting my corporate job, I was also struggling with a lot of fear. I had "coincidences" occur, all the time. I never felt like I was alone and I started to "know" things about other people. I have always been in touch with my intuition and the "spirit world" ever since I was a child I would frequently receive spiritual visitors in the evening. It scared me, and I didn't know what it was or meant so I shut it off. This was my higher self's way of encouraging me to step back into my intuition.
I started to weave in my intuition into my portraits and commissions by offering mini readings to my clients so that they felt a connection with the artwork. Most importantly it allowed trust to build between the two of us so I could channel their energy into the artwork which made the experience even more heartfelt.
I've done a lot listening, meditation and inquiring about what art really is and how it plays with energy. We're essentially taking an emotional experience and we're creating something physical from it. Not only does it heal, because it takes the experience out of your body and into a thing which you can identify with, but it also captures that moment in time I was mentioning earlier. That's a really special experience and to be able to see it from an observer's point of view. We're all creators and artists because we're constantly creating our realities and each moment. Art is no exception to that, and neither is cooking dinner or applying for a new job or going on a vacation - it's all created by you! When we get that, we can see how we play a bigger part in this universe. When we can do that, we can serve humanity with our gifts because it takes the personalization from it and it makes a tool that is meant to be served to our higher purposes. My hopes is that when I create, whoever comes in contact will be forever changed because they too, get to experience the creation energy enveloped in the painting and my hope is that the viewer receives joy but also confidence in their own creations.
WC: What was the inspiration for the paintings used in the Wolf Circus collaboration? Did you approach these pieces differently than you approach your other works?
TS: I trust that whatever I create is meant to be created. I sat down and I imagined the energy I wanted to infuse in the pieces and my hands drew this. I have no other explanation except that I was in the flow and I didn't second guess what I was creating. I didn't approach the creation any different than a regular painting. I definitely had to challenge myself to paint and draw smaller than I normally would!
WC: We’re so excited to take part in the art class you’ll be holding on our IGTV! Tell us about what the class will look like and what we can be expected to learn from it?
TS: I love teaching art classes in this style because it's less heavy on techniques and I encourage the viewers to find confidence in their own style that they were born with. I think it's important we try new ways of creating, but the way you're meant to create is unique to you, and nobody else can create like you. My hope is that these classes put you into that meditative and healing state when you're playing with artwork, so that you don't doubt your creations. I swear this will translate into other areas of your life!
WC: What can we look forward to seeing from you in the coming months?
TS: I have 2 upcoming exhibitions, in NYC and Austin, Texas this November. I have just started an online gallery The Honest Art Gallery that supports artists and creates an inclusive relationship. My mission is to teach artists how to build their own brand and own their sales cycle.
I also have a free webinar next Thursday, September 2, with a Q + A for artists to submit their questions regarding the art industry, business acumen and creativity, which you can register for here.
I also have an online course called The Wealthy Artist where I teach creatives how to profit from their creativity using the universal law of attraction!
If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder, there are resources available to help.
Canada’s National Eating Disorder Helpline:
or find a provider at https://nedic.ca/find-a-provider/
The American National Eating Disorder Association Helpline:
Call or text 1-800-931-2237
or visit https://www.nationaleatingdisorders.org/help-support/contact-helpline to chat with someone online