Linds Miyo is the artist behind Wonder*&Story. She runs her business from Toronto, ON creating abstract artwork. We had the opportunity to interview Linds in her studio space at Atkin Collective. It was a pleasure to interview Linds and hear her story. Thank you for the opportunity Linds!
How did you start the business?
It was Spring 2018, and I was home with my second baby... I came to the realization that I needed to do something different - there was no going back to my previous life in advertising with two little kids at home. The hours, the culture... just no, it wasn't going to happen. I was kicking around the idea of painting, and I happened to meet a curator, Ashley Mulvihill (who has since founded Ninth Editions) at a mommy meetup. She said some nice things about my artwork, and encouraged me to contact Akin Collective about studio space. I had no idea affordable studio space existed in Toronto. Having space to work changed everything for me, I’m so lucky to be able to play and experiment here. I have so much gratitude for Ashley and Akin for getting me started. I just celebrated my studio-versary, one year in my studio! It's been wild. But I'll be moving soon - I was just accepted to a residency with the Museum of Contemporary Art Toronto studio program. A year ago I wasn't even an artist - this year I'm going to be an artist with a studio in a MUSEUM. What is HAPPENING!!!
What led you to starting the business?
I’ve painted my whole life, but I never thought that art could be a path. So it's been a journey, I took on all sorts of other things. My whole career “art-adjacent” – design work, creative direction, creative production. I co-founded a magazine early in my career, which was a huge creative challenge. A few years later, I slowly transitioned from publishing into advertising and branding. This was all great, but it didn’t leave much time for open creativity, and after having my kiddos, and I just wasn’t in the headspace to go back to advertising. One year later, and it looks like I’ll have at least 5-6 shows this year. Next up is Toronto Outdoor Art Fair, July 12-14, where I'll be one of only a handful of artists showing in two categories.
Who is your favourite painter of all time?
What is your creative inspiration?
All of my paintings are about life, the art of living. I’m a trauma survivor, making art lets me access a sense of calm and flow, it's intensely personal to me. And I think that everyone has been through things, had an experience, where they ask – is that it? Is this all there is? I make art because I believe there is more. We all need more. Art builds that bridge for me. We need wonder, and beauty. We need light and color that expands our perceptions, which shakes us out of our predictable routines. I want to create that story. I want to engage with joy, celebrate color, moving forward with the power and energy to do anything. There is more, and I think artists light those paths for us. I hope my work communicates and communes, adds something to the conversation. For myself, I make art to make the future.
What is your painting routine?
Sitting on the floor
Listening to music with headphones
Staying fuelled by coffee!
What makes your brand special?
I do! My style and technique of painting is very unique, and I'm a pretty distinct personality.
Why do you feel your customers buy from you?
Well obviously, I hope that the work resonates with them. I want to make art that lifts your mood, brightens your day. But a big part of it is that I make art for real people. Part of the joy of owning good art is being able to afford it, so I'm very conscious of where my pricing is, keeping it accessible and affordable. Art for the people – people that probably don’t always think they can buy art - young people and couples just starting out, families with kids, people in tiny apartments, and anyone who knows good art when they see it. It shouldn't be a struggle to buy real art. I love doing commission work, collaborating to create one of a kind pieces to perfectly fit in my client’s environments. I also offer payment plans. And I work with Partial Gallery, an online platform that allows you to rent and "try on" art in your home.
What are your favourite galleries in Toronto?
To what do you attribute your success?
Right place, right time. I don't know that I could have done this at any other point in my life. But I also bring all my past experience with me, and I treat my business like a business. From branding through to sales, I do the work, I know what I'm doing.
What is your favourite lunch spot?
Hawk & Chick, I love the kaarage chicken bento box! Yum.
What are the best coffee shops around your studio?
What is unique about your business?
Honestly, the growth is the most unique thing about it! It's only been a year! There are so many opportunities right now, I'm just trying to keep up!
Who are other artists in the area that you admire?
So many more!! I'm still in awe of being a part of the Toronto artist community.
What is your favourite store in Toronto?
Sylvie and Shimmy in Parkdale for clothes, and I love Scout in Roncesvalles for gifts.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Be open. Make friends! Talk to everyone, tell everyone what you want to do and what you hope to achieve. Don't be shy, introduce yourself and promote your business. Don't be afraid to be vulnerable. Practice and refine your "elevator pitch" constantly, know your story and make it real for others. That pitch is not just for closing deals, it's also for building community around you, which can really help keep your head above water through tough times. And there are so many cool people out there - I'm so lucky to be able to paint and contribute to this community it's just the best ever.
Photos taken by Emma Mahoney