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Female Disruptors: Lindsay Dawn On The Three Things You Need To Shake Up Your Industry

An Interview With Candice Georgiadis

Being disruptive in a positive way can take so many different forms. Even when something seems ‘not so positive’ from an external perspective, it can unfold to show that the internal aspects have a positive effect in a more subtle way. However, for me to say that I believe being disruptive is always positive, would be a lie. In terms of what I would deem as disruptive in a ‘not so positive’ aspect, would be intentionally doing something to hurt someone. In the sense of targeting opposed to advocating for.

As a part of our series about women who are shaking things up in their industry, I had the pleasure of interviewing Lindsay Dawn.

Lindsay Dawn is a Canadian artist best known for her depiction of the female body that she combines with abstract, and street art essences. She starting painting figurative work in her early teens, and has since explored many styles, which reflects in her current paintings as a fusion of her years of study and exploration. Dawn produces work in a variety of mediums from oil, acrylic, airbrush, and spray paint to pastel, marker, and pencil while primarily working on canvas.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?

Thanks for having me! So I started painting when I was in the womb, just kidding.. maybe. I do know that the first memory I have in life is finger painting. So it’s safe to say that being an artist wasn’t really a decision for me, more so destiny. Growing up I always had my hands in something creative whether it was painting, drawing, telling stories, daydreaming, or painting my nails a different shade everyday. You name it, I was probably trying to figure out how I could convince my mom to let me try it. I grew up in a small town in northern Canada and dreamed of moving to a big city since I was like 10. I wasn’t a huge fan of school but I always loved my art classes. Junior high was when I really fell in love with painting, and then that just carried into high school and so on. That was also the time I started painting the female form. End of junior high, into early high school I would paint bodies, or make an ear or some body part out of clay. I always kind of thrived on independence. So after I finished high school, I moved to another city and started working at MAC, which is actually what led me to LA. After about 3 months of working at MAC I decided I was going to go to makeup school, it was something that was still in the creative field but seemed more realistic than being a painter at the time. I think that was kind of a result of societal norms and the idea of the “starving artist” and that “art wasn’t a career”. So I enrolled in makeup school in LA, and 6 months later I drove here and started school. I ended up dropping out about 4 months into the program, I just wasn’t as passionate about it as I thought I would be. About a week later I came home and my friend Carley (that I was living with) had bought me an easel, canvas and some paint and was like “this is what you’re supposed to do ‘’. Fast forward almost 7 years later and here I am. So to answer the question of what led me to this career path, I think it was inevitable. If I’m not creating, I feel like I can’t breathe

Can you tell our readers what it is about the work you’re doing that’s disruptive?

The first thing that comes to mind with this question would be my obsession with trying to find my own way to do everything. So for me as a painter, that would mean not being categorized into a specific style, rather trying to create my own lane, and my own style that’s really a conjunction of many different things I’ve attempted to master. When myself, or anyone tries to describe my work, it doesn’t fit into one or two words. Instead it always ends up being something along the lines of figurative realism combined with surrealism, abstract and street art essences. To me, anything that challenges the norm can be disruptive. I’m sure some would consider my perception of women and sexuality to be disruptive. I feel like as a woman, and an artist it’s my job to stray people away from looking at things in such limiting ways. Rather than the female body having so many negative connotations attached to it, I want to challenge people’s perspectives. For example, the female body is constantly sexualized. As much as I want to change that perspective, I think challenging the ‘why’ behind something associated with being sexual is negative gives us another angle to look at things from. If you can look at a painting of a naked woman, or one that imposes the idea of sexuality and think it’s art, then why is it so hard to look at women and sexuality the same way in real life?

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Truthfully, I don’t even like to use the word mistake in relation to art, because I have this whole “there are no mistakes in art” mindset. But I will say, the biggest mistake I made in the progression of my career was thinking I had to stick to one style of work. But all in all, that idea of thinking I had to fall into a category was what made me explore so many different styles, which ultimately resulted in where I’m at now. So when I look back, that “mistake” was essential to my artistic development. I think learning that even when you don’t think something is working for you, it’s all part of the bigger picture.

We all need a little help along the journey. Who have been some of your mentors? Can you share a story about how they made an impact?

Going through the motions of being a creative, I’m constantly seeking change, so I always end up having multiple mentors at a time for different things. One of my most impactful mentors is my friend Jona, he and I have been friends for about four years now. We met outside of a spot in Miami called, Exit Through the Donut Shop, and within an hour he managed to challenge everything about who I thought I was as an artist by giving me a piece of cardboard and some paint and saying “let’s make a painting”. I think I stared at it for an hour before he came over and took my hand and drew thick black lines and said “ok you started, now keep going”. Up until then I don’t know if I realized how much your ego can interfere with that initial start of creating. It dawned on me in that exact moment that while I’m super courageous and impulsive with life decisions, I was so afraid of myself in a creative aspect. That kind of set the tone for our relationship over the years. He always reminds me the importance of being myself unapologetically, trying new things with confidence and to create a way if there isn’t one.

I have three other main mentors, my friend Nancy who is a powerhouse business woman and has the most kind heart on the planet. She teaches me a lot about balance and compassion amongst other important life “stuff” everyday. And the other two, they know who they are, but each impacts my life in their own ways on a daily basis. They’re both confidants I look to for clarity on things that aren’t always directly related to my creative process, but more so on life decisions and how to make an impact. And last but most definitely not least, my mom was my biggest mentor.

In today’s parlance, being disruptive is usually a positive adjective. But is disrupting always good? When do we say the converse, that a system or structure has ‘withstood the test of time’? Can you articulate to our readers when disrupting an industry is positive, and when disrupting an industry is ‘not so positive’? Can you share some examples of what you mean?

Being disruptive in a positive way can take so many different forms. Even when something seems ‘not so positive’ from an external perspective, it can unfold to show that the internal aspects have a positive effect in a more subtle way. However, for me to say that I believe being disruptive is always positive, would be a lie. In terms of what I would deem as disruptive in a ‘not so positive’ aspect, would be intentionally doing something to hurt someone. In the sense of targeting opposed to advocating for. For example, if you’re doing something out of spite, as a byproduct of something you either haven’t accepted within yourself, or about someone else, and your motive is backed by feelings of envy and anger. I would classify that as disruption in a ‘not so positive’ form. On the flip side, I think anything anyone is doing with good intent, from a place of openness, understanding and love, can be positive. Taking action to try and make a change, or make waves with the intention of progression or a healthy outcome, not just your own self or the entity behind you, is what makes being disruptive positive.

Can you share 3 of the best words of advice you’ve gotten along your journey? Please give a story or example for each.

  1. Never get too comfortable
  2. It’s never too late
  3. Breathe

We are sure you aren’t done. How are you going to shake things up next?

I can’t give away all my secrets, but the one thing I will say is look out for new mediums, this year I will be incorporating more diversity into my process. Performance art is something I’ve been really into lately, so you might see some of that. I also have an NFT project that I am the creative director of titled “Shama Shorties” that’s going to be released in the next few months in collaboration with Arushi Gallery, and Sliztoonz. Just know whatever I’m doing will be nothing less than disruptive.

In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by ‘women disruptors’ that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?

The feeling of having to prove yourself worthy of something. I know there are most definitely men that face this as well, but speaking as a woman in the arts, in my experience people are more likely to jump to conclusions with women and their success opposed to men. For example, I’ve always had people alluding to my success being a result of the fact that I’m a confident woman opposed to the fact that I am actually talented. We need to move away from this rhetoric and focus on what matters, the art.

Do you have a book/podcast/talk that’s had a deep impact on your thinking? Can you share a story with us?

‘The Celestine Prophecy’ by James Redfield is one of the most impactful books in my collection. A friend of mine gave it to me when I first moved to LA, and there are so many hidden gems in there that have stuck with me in terms of energy and human interaction. Otherwise, I’m a big interview person, I love watching and reading interviews from people that are rebels of their time. From Madonna to Prince to Basquiat, I love hearing the perspective of people that have made waves, and almost always find something to apply to my life from their way of existing. That’s something I urge people to do more of, watch/read interviews, I think it gives the voice back to the artist and strays away from misinterpretation.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Removing the negative connotation from the idea of sexuality or being sexual. Obviously I mean this in the terms of things that are not harming others. But from removing the idea that a person being sexual, or sexually expressive is a bad thing.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My mother had one tattoo, and it read ‘the journey is the reward’. That is single-handedly the best advice that I remind myself of daily. As humans, we spend so much time living in a state of ‘destination addiction’ where we’re always giving our energy to fixating on the past, or anticipating the future.. “when I have this i’ll be this” or “when this happens i’ll be this” and so on. When we learn to be grateful for things in the moment, is when we can be at peace.

How can our readers follow you online?

My website, lindsaydawstudios.com , instagram @itslindsaydawn and @lindsaydawnstudios, twitter @itslindsaydawn and just keep an eye out for new projects!

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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In-depth Interviews with Authorities in Business, Pop Culture, Wellness, Social Impact, and Tech. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis

Candice Georgiadis is an active mother of three as well as a designer, founder, social media expert, and philanthropist.

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