Craving for Ice Cream
size. approx. 20"x20"
location. Ottawa, Ontario, Canada
Welcome to Ice Cream Social, the summer's socially distant group art show, featuring creators and makers from all walks of life, coming together to share their love of the greatest treat known to man. Each week through Labor Day, come chill with new artists as they discuss a wide range of topics spanning their personal journeys, art, pop culture, and, of course, ice cream!
Visit the gallery to see these and all the tremendous efforts that stayed cool in the spotlight since July 3rd.
Ice cream is already exquisite the way it is so why do I need to ruin it with another thing on top?
Tiffany, thanks for joining us here at Ice Cream Social. Spoons out, let’s dig in right away. Are you an artist by trade, or simply passion?
Well, I would say by passion first, because I draw since I’ve known how to hold a pen. Today, I’ve got some contracts in illustrations, in addition to my work as a graphic designer. But my goal is to become a full-time artist in the long run.
Can you tell us a bit about your background? What’s your story?
I was born and grew up in Madagascar. Then I moved to France after high school, where I went to University and studied something that had nothing to do with Arts. I got my diploma and I had that feeling that I was not on the right path. I did long studies because it was very important for my family, I guess. And where I’m from, artist is not considered a “real job” like doctor or engineer or lawyer, see?
Anyway, I was struggling to find a job (but the truth is I was not really looking). I started my Instagram account. It was a [return] to my passion that I set aside for a long time because of...life? Then, I found an opportunity to move to Canada and I came here to study graphic design. Looks like finally, graphic design is not art, and I got frustrated, even though I learnt cool stuff.
Sorry about the monologue!
No need to apologize. I knew you'd have an amazing story. You mentioned you remember drawing at a very young age. Was this encouraged by family, or something you just picked up on your own?
As far as I know, I may be the only one who draws in my family, but my grandpa was an architect and I remember spending some precious moments with him. Sometimes, I think I got it from him.
There is probably a lot of truth to that. Your ink sketches feature some stunning architecture. Maybe not technical like an architect's drawings, but absolutely incredible nonetheless.
I drew a lot of buildings and cityscapes in the past because I studied urban planning.
I have kids of my own, and I think it's important to foster and encourage these tendencies.
Right. Parents should encourage kids even if what they want to do is a bit eccentric like art. But I can’t blame my family of not pushing me to pursue art. That was the context, and they are not enough informed about all the possibilities that a child can have as a job. You have to figure it out by yourself sooner or later.
Having grown up in such different locales as Madagascar and France, how do you think your environment influenced your art, if at all?
Inspiration is everywhere around me, in what I do, what I see, what I read, I listen to, to the people I meet, the travels, etc. But when I look back, I don’t think the two countries make a real difference regarding my art and inspiration. Madagascar was a French colony years ago. Today, the French culture is still very present there. I did all my education in French but outside the school, Malagasy was the common language: at home, with family, when you do some errands, etc.
So I was already very familiar with the French culture by reading French literature, watching all the Disney movies in French, reading comics in French. At that time, everything that looked far away from my island was pretty fascinating to me. So I guess, my art followed this way. And when I moved to France, I felt homesick sometimes and I missed some things in Madagascar a lot. So I started to draw familiar places from my childhood (landscapes, cityscape, etc.).
But when I do arts, it goes a lot with my current mood and feelings. As I’m a curious person, I only draw what I feel inspiring to me; it could be an idea with a French touch or with a Malagasy twist and some Japanese or African elements! It’s a mix of a lot of things.
Since I’ve lived in Canada, simultaneously with graphic design courses, I started digital arts which I didn’t do at all when I was in France or Madagascar.
Amazing. So let's talk about this piece specifically. It's got a bit of a fashion illustration vibe to it, but its also very surreal. The hand at the end of the braid stands out as delightfully weird.
I think this piece is a good example of how my brain works actually. I didn’t do it in a one shot and I had no idea what I was doing when I started it.
So here’s the story: it was supposed to be an illustration that celebrated the 26th of June ,which is Independence Day in Madagascar.
(I already love that this ties back to your home country.)
At the same time, I made the sketch because I wanted to participate to the Color Palette Challenge on Instagram. I wasn’t be able to combine both ideas because the colors of Madagascar are like red, white and green. And the palette of the challenge was more like blue, pink, yellow. I was like: let’s forget this sketch. I’ll come back to it later.
So finally, I didn’t do an illustration for the 26th of June and forgot the challenge; then we were in July! It was getting hot here and I felt like eating ice cream all the time. I do like ice cream, like, even my hair or my clothes, I mean, the all of me deserves it!
So the idea just popped up! What about earrings with funny faces? Oh, what if the hair would desire the ice cream as well? It could be a good composition! (I talk to myself a lot.)
It’s bright, colorful, it’s a summer vibe, and that’s it! But finding the good palette was pretty challenging.
Depending on the idea or my current mood, my illustrations are either funny, or more thoughtful, or sensitive, or it’s just about techniques. So here, it’s definitely a funny one and I wanted to improve my color skills.
The character here is definitely a Malagasy girl. Most of the time, I let people give their own interpretation of my work. It’s always interesting to see how they get it and what they feel about it.
(Love the way you describe the piece by the way!)
There's so much personality here, and it melts my icy heart to hear that a lot of happy accidents and thoughts went into bringing this delight to life. I was going to ask about the jewelry. It's the best kind of crazy that these little turquoise stones have minds of their own. It's a small detail, because no one would think twice if that was just regular jewelry, but by giving them faces, you've added so much more personality to this to illustration. It's brilliant.
Thanks! Giving life/faces to common objects is a thing I like to do and I do it every time I can. It was probably from my curiosity for some mangas and animes in Japan. Besides, when I studied graphic design, I put this “funny faces” style in many of my projects. They make me happy somehow, and that’s my sense of humor. I even created a character – “T” – which is a teabag with different moods.
Y'know, I can see that now! The layers involved here. I love it. You mentioned you had absorbed a lot of exported media – Disney movies, comics, anime – via French translations. What are some of your favorites? And what are some homegrown (Malagasy or French) properties you'd recommend to others?
And I’m still absorbing a lot, like a kid! My favorites Disney ones are the Lion King and Mulan.
About Japan, I’m a huge fan of Miyazaki’s work from Ghibli studio. I love all his work but especially Spirited Away and The Wind Rises.
In Madagascar, we also have our tales and stories. They were told by the elders and as far as I remember, only some of them were in books and it’s only in Malagasy. By growing up, I sometimes feel guilty I didn’t absorb enough of tales and stories from my country. But the thing is, it’s also an oral tradition and if you are not curious enough or surrounded by people who can tell you the stories, it’s a bit difficult to get familiar with them. So I remember of the names of a lot of characters from Malagasy tales, but not necessarily the story.
I'm first generation Polish-American, and similarly, I have some "old country" traditions and stories that will likely die off with my parents and their siblings. That same feeling of guilt lingers. But what can you do? Onto happier things, do you have a favorite ice cream or frozen treat?
I knew you were Polish! I was in Krakow a few years ago, that was awesome!
I would say vanilla ice cream is my favorite one! By the way, Madagascar is also known for its natural vanilla that we export all around the world. It’s the best!
And I do like all the sorbets, whatever the flavor is. I don’t know if it’s the right word in English.
I actually did know that about Madagascar and vanilla! And you're correct on sorbet, too. I'm a big fan of the fruitier frozen flavors myself.
Do you have a local ice cream parlor in Ottawa, or one you remember from your time in France, as a place you had to visit?
Yes I do. There’s this Italian one called Mantovani in downtown Ottawa. And as I live in the capital of Canada, when you cross the bridge, you get to the Quebec province and there’s this place called La Cigale, they make amazing ice cream too!
In France, I remember of most of “Salon de thé” that serves nice ice cream. But to me, the best ice cream I’ve ever tasted was in Firenze (Italy), I can’t remember of the name of this gelateria. What a pity!
And in Madagascar, the best ice cream is made by a pastry/bakery called Honey and owned by a Chinese family.
Awesome, as we wind down, I have a few rapid-fire questions that I hit all the artists with. First, Do you call them sprinkles or jimmies?
Ahaha, hold on. What? What do I call what? I’ve never heard these words before.
Okay. I just Googled it! I don’t like sprinkles on my Ice cream. I used to call them confettis (French).
That sounds so much more elegant. If you had to choose, though, would you go rainbow or chocolate?
Cup or cone?
Argh, that’s a hard choice! I would say a cup is more convenient to eat your ice cream “properly,” but I do like the taste of cone.
And finally, another one I'm not sure you'll know or not, but here goes: "sherbet" or "sherbert"?
I don’t know what it is. Sherbet or sherbert, is it not the same thing than a sorbet?
I still don’t know what it is. I’ve never tasted it I guess.
No sweat. This has been a great chat, easily the most informative of the bunch. Before we go, if you were to order a frozen treat right now with no consideration for calories or cost, what would it be?
Vanilla ice cream!
Just plain vanilla? No toppings?
Yes sir! Just plain vanilla. I rarely add toppings on my treat. I like it “pure” and “simple,” if I can say it this way. Same with the tea; I drink a lot of tea, a green tea with no sugar or anything else. I like the pure taste of it.
Wow. Your ice creaming is as boring as your artwork is exciting.
My ice cream is boring! Really funny! It’s not. I grew up eating ice cream like this with no topping at all. But the concept of toppings is something I’ve discovered lately. In Madagascar, we eat ice cream just like this. Sometimes, you can add “chantilly” cream or melted chocolate. That’s it.
In France, I’ve discovered you can add other things like confettis or fruits, but I’m not a fan. Ice cream is already tasty and exquisite the way it is (when it’s a good one!) so why do I need to ruin it with another thing on top? No way.
You raise some eye-opening good points, and on that note, Tiffany, thank you so much for being a part of the inaugural Ice Cream Social. This has been a blast. Stay cool!
Madagascar is the second-largest island country in the world in terms of area, only behind Indonesia. Austraia, considered a continent, doesn't count.)
Ranavalona I is known in some circles as the mad queen of Madagascar. She ruled from 1828-61.
"Discipline under Ranavalona was brutal. If someone was suspected of being untrustworthy, they had to eat three chicken skins followed by the nut of a plant that made them throw up. Why? They had to throw up all three chicken skins in order to prove themselves faithful.
One, one of Ranavalona's lovers – whom she had caught with another woman – refused to do this and was promptly speared in the neck. After a battle against the French and English, 21 European heads could be found on pikes, warning others of their countrymen's mistakes. That said, the battle was won mosly because the people of Madagascar were lucky – many of the foreigners fell victim to malaria."
Madagascar is home to over half of the planet's chameleons, and the strange-looking octopus tree.
The first in the Madagascar film series grossed over $530 million at the box office. It's subsequent sequels each earned more money than the previous installment, until Penguins of Madagascar, the 4th film in the franchise, grossed $373 million. In all, the films have made over $2.25 billion. Hippos, giraffes, and lions are not native to the island.
The Malgasy giant jumping rat, aka vovotsa, is a rabbit-like endangered species native to the island, and can jump over three feet into the air!
The roc is a legendary, giant, horned bird that could allegedly carry off an elephant. Explorer Marco Polo, Kublai Khan, and Sinbad the Sailor have all made various claims about rocs in their time. The mythic creatures also appear in The Thousand and One Nights, and whle they may not have been real, it's possible they are derived from the 10-foot tall elephant bird, a flightless bird native to Madagascar that went extinct some 1,100 years ago. (Investigating Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and Other Cryptids)
What a story! Follow the worldly and brilliant tiffany_and_little_things on her illustration and design Instagram pages – a treasure trove of fantastic series featuring an anthropomorphic tea bag, anatomically correct and creepy hearts, beautiful figure drawings, and ornate line work – as well as her official website.