The world of art has had a long, storied journey of evolution and it’s likely that it will never see an end. Names of legendary artists such as Picasso and Monet will forever ring in the hearts of dedicated fans. Beginners and newcomers to the field will continue to redefine the concept of art as we know it.

I met with two up-and-coming local artists to discuss their professional journey, and I had both of them offer some advice to artists taking their first steps on the path of building a career.

Kathleen Olsen

Kathleen Olsen is a 21-year-old artist from Golden, B.C. She’s been making art since she was five years of age and is currently in her fourth year of the painting program at ACAD, pursuing a Bachelor’s of Fine Arts. She said, “My work functions as a continuous exploration into the contemporary grotesque — I’ve been researching ideas and concepts in the realm of ecology.” She said that her recent works’ style could be described as textured and sculptural. Olsen has evolved from embracing a wide spectrum of colours to focusing on specific themes for each piece.

When the question of which of her pieces are her favourites came up, she told me about her piece Unchartered: “It helped me break into my current style of technique, specifically using a pallet knife and multiple mediums and gels to build the atmosphere of the piece”.


Olsen’s journey has been rife with challenges, the biggest of which has been doubting peers, and whether she will be able to make a career, let alone generate income, as an artist. She stays focused by reminding herself that it’s a job she enjoys doing — she’s determined to pursue this dream. When it came to advice for individuals starting out, she advised: “Keep making mistakes — Keep working and don’t be afraid to take risks because that’s what’s going to push you into forming an unchartered aesthetic; just keep working!”

Check out Katie’s website here.

Joshua Makorto

Next, I interviewed Joshua Makorto, a 32-year-old artist from Revelstoke, B.C. Makorto’s story is unique in that he’s self-taught and has only been creating artworks for two years. He describes his style a few different ways: loud, bright, colourful and visually stimulating pop art. The project that he’s most proud of is the album cover he created for electronic dance music artist Justin Martin’s 2016 album Hello Clouds. It is a playful pop-art depiction of Martin’s idea of a “cloud mothership”.

Joshua Makorto posing with the album cover for Hello Clouds

I asked what the hardest challenge he has faced thus far has been, Makorto said, “’s all about getting exposure for my work and building a style that effectively represents me so when you see my work, you’re certain that it’s a Joshua Makorto piece”.

His advice for individuals starting out their careers as artists is to create their own work and to avoid popular trends circulating in the field, as well as focusing on expressing themselves and being unique. He said being original is the most important aspect of being an artist.

My experiences meeting these two Calgary-based artists provides evidence for the validity of the belief that when people chooses to pursue their passions professionally, they can truly express themselves in a way unlike any other. Art is subjective and ever-changing and there’s no telling what sort of aesthetic beauty we will be able to see created by this new generation of artists.

Check out Joshua’s instagram here.

If you know someone you’d like to nominate for
the YYC Spotlight initiative, please contact:

Alex Haidner
Junior Editor at YYCNow