Honeysuckle Interview: Michele Ayoub

Michele Ayoub works both in English and French as a freelance filmmaker and artist on various projects including documentaries, music videos and installations. She recently had a solo exhibit at the prestigious Rocket Gallery in Tokyo, Japan, where she screened her new documentary portrait series as well as collages and a collection of zines. Her work has been featured in numerous publications including Vogue Japan, Double Dot Magazine, Now Magazine and Vice.Interested in experimental documentaries, found footage collages, video art and installations Michele has worked as a freelance editor and videographer for numerous companies including Artesian Films, Intrigue Media, and the Link. Her music video Ghost for Luka was recently featured on Now Magazine. Have you always been an arty person, did you know from a young age that being creative was your way into the world?Art has always been a really important aspect of my life. Basically everyone in my family works in some sort of creative medium and that has always really inspired me. I actually resisted it for a long time and always questioned whether it was the right thing I should be doing but art has probably been the only consistent thing that I’ve kept gravitating towards and expressing myself through since I was really young Your art encompases drawing, photography and mixed media..which is your favourite medium to work in and what or who inspires you?Yes! I am currently working on three new music videos with different musicians to be released by April. Look out for a Blanka video, a video for Simone Pitot and a video for Vallens coming very soon.Film/video is my main focus and the medium in which I feel most excited about working in and trying to push boundaries. Working in a lot of mediums is really important to me though and I think they all influence each other. I’m constantly inspired by new artist and filmmakers or just things that I see on the street but I can name a few people that really provided a foundation for me. Chris Marker and Donigan Cumming’s work gave me permission to film in the style I was aspiring towards and Norman McLaren, Ericka Beckman and Sadie Benning were all great inspirations for experimental techniques and a DIY style. Also my friends and family are a huge inspiration for me too. My grandmother, Brigitte Radecki, is an abstract painter and I’ve always found her creative process and aesthetic really inspiring.How did the collaboration between you and LUKA come about? The music and your images work well together, will you be doing more videos in the future?I directed a silent short film called Mitosis while at Concordia University with some of the main visuals that were used in Ghost. I always wanted to expand the project and add some sort of musical score but had no idea what I wanted for it. I ended up just putting it online and ignoring it for two years until LUKA found it and contacted me about collaborating on a music video with some of the visuals. The music wasn’t what I had originally expected but I think it worked perfectly. Your work has features in many high profile publications, did you ever imagine your work would be picked up by places such as Vogue Japan etc?Not really! My whole solo exhibit in Tokyo at Rocket Gallery was a very serendipitous and surprising event. It all happened within the last month of my living there where I was offered the show and then the press in Vogue and other publications. It was very exciting!How long does it take to create one of your drawings from start to finish?It depends! Sometimes it will just come out really fast because it’s been brewing inside and other times it will literally take me hours of frustration to get a drawing exactly the way I want.What do you hope people take away from your art?It obviously depends on the project I’m working on but I think a simultaneous mix of alienation and comfort is present in all my art so I would hope the viewer would experience some of that. I’ve always been so pleasantly surprised hearing people respond to my work in ways that illustrate to me that they truly understood what I was communicating or that they felt something that was significant or important to them. Do you have any creative rituals? What’s your creative process like?I’m actually trying to implement more creative rituals just to see how it affects my productivity. It can be really all over the place. I tend not to be able to control when I’m inspired or have the energy to work on a certain project. It often just happens and I sometimes find myself staying up until 5am. That being said recently I’ve collected a lot of footage for various projects, which includes me traveling or planning shoots to acquire it, and then I’ve just been editing different videos every day rotating between all the projects I have going on. I find that actually helps me stay alert and inspired or else I get bored or tired.Being an artist can at times me a lonely pursuit, do you like to work alone or do you sometimes crave a collaboration with another artist?It varies because if I’m collecting material for a documentary project it means I’m spending a lot of time socializing, whether it’s working closely with a subject, or interviewing many people, so I really need time alone later to recharge. It can get really lonely if I’m working a lot just editing or drawing and I do really enjoy collaborating because to celebrate something creative with another person or a team can be way more rewarding than just alone. But I am learning to really appreciate the balance that I currently have.Where are you based and what is the art scene like there?It’s hard to say. I was based in Montreal for four years, and then Tokyo and now  recently in Toronto, which is my hometown, but I’m not sure how long I’ll be staying. I have a stronger sense of the Montreal and Tokyo art scenes and I’m just discovering Toronto’s. Montreal was a great place to develop creatively because all of my friends were in some sort of creative medium and everyone was developing so it was very open and exciting. I was really inspired in Tokyo by the aesthetic and presentation by artists and in galleries and I feel that was one of the best times for me as an artist.Do you have any exhibitions or projects coming up in 2016?Yes! I’m currently working on an experimental documentary series exploring people’s perceptions of sexuality and intimacy that I will be releasing in 2016. I’m also screening some of the short documentary portraits I premiered at my exhibit in Tokyo at some venues here in Toronto.You can find out more about Michele via her website Michele Ayoub