Art for Art’s Sake
Get to Know: Winged Beast
Have you ever picked up a postcard from Winged Beast, held it in your hand, and thought to yourself, “Wait a minute, this is actually brilliant.”
You’re not alone. And that’s why we love him.
I met with the owner of Winged Beast, Stirling Prentice in his Mechanicsville Studio. We talked about the messages behind his art and some of his biggest life lessons as an artist and entrepreneur.
Winged Beast was established in 2007 in Windsor, Ontario, after the exhilaration of Stirling’s first successful market. Since then, his business has been a slow evolution; wrestling with ideas, societal values and his reservations about consumerism. Stirling wanted to create art that mirrored his reflections and brought light to the “inevitabilities of life.”
Our collection of Winged Beast postcards and t-shirts are a testament to this — offbeat with a healthy dose of dark humour. And like any good dark comedy, it can invoke personal reflection.
Yet the brilliance behind Winged Beast is that the narrative is up for interpretation. Unlike some art that is deliberate in its message, Stirling has created pieces that speak to many different themes. Stirling explained that this has allowed for genuine engagement with his artwork; people can connect through their own experience.
“It’s always interesting to learn how my artwork relates to an individual. It varies drastically from one person to the next”
To date, Winged Beast has been an exploration of several different art mediums. Stirling continues to play with different elements of illustration, painting, photography, sculpture and multimedia installations. His products have been carried in multiple stores throughout the province and have made their mark in Ottawa’s art scene.
When I asked Stirling about the lessons he learned in the ten years of operating his business, he summed it up into the following five pieces of wisdom:
- If you’re not into what you’re doing, be honest. High-level energy is required to get attention. You can’t fake it forever.
- You don’t work in a vacuum; share, cooperate, connect. Don’t “cage-up” your resources. You will do much better as a community.
- It’s ok to say no to a bad job. If it will water down the quality of your work, it’s not worth it.
- Allow yourself the time to put in the work. Your products are probably in your life for the long-term.
- Be okay with letting go of an idea or product. Sometimes they aren’t well received, that’s part of the process. Learn from it.
One of Stirling’s most recent lessons is learning when to take a step back. Despite the success of Winged Beast, Stirling shared that he will be retreating from more business pursuits over the next year. This means our stock may grow limited, so check out his collection soon. He hopes to reconnect through new art forms and bring something truly unique to Ottawa. He can’t over-emphasize the importance of this enough.
“You need to make sure you don’t get so caught up in the hustle you lose sight of your message.”
One of those messages for Stirling is environmental responsibility as a business owner. He would like to educate and ultimately see more entrepreneurs take responsibility for their supply chain. Stirling ensures that all of his products are either repurposed or ethically produced — and wants to help others do the same.
This month Stirling will be teaching us how to make our very own screen printed Christmas wrapping paper. This is a great place to start if you’ve ever been curious about screen printing. Or if you want to get your hands dirty and make something special for the holiday season.
Until next time maker-friends!