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Vans Community Series - Julia Kansas


This spring we’ve teamed up with Vans to highlight their new Anaheim Factory Collection and introduce you to a diverse group of artists, small businesses, and creatives from across Canada, making a positive impact on their community.

Calgary based visual artist Julia Kansas recently invited us to her studio, where shares her latest ceramic, drawing, paintings and animation work. She also takes a moment to fill us in on her recent inspirations, her plans for the future, and shows off her favourite pair of black and white Vans that she says reminds her of her beloved cat, Mallory.

Can you tell us about your current artistic practices? What medium or format have you been working with the most lately and what do you enjoy about using these materials?

I’ve been all over the place with my materials lately! I generally make work that embodies the idea of boredom and the everyday, and I kind of just pick up whatever medium I think will best convey a fleeting thought I have. I’ve been using soft pastels, charcoal, ceramics and I’ve been dabbling in animation as well. I like using all these different types of mediums because they have such different execution times. I can sit down and finish a pastel drawing in a couple hours, but I have to dedicate myself to a ceramic or an animation. Jumping back and forth from all these materials is good for my brain, I think.

Have you discovered any new creative outlets or hobbies during quarantine?

I had been taking classes at Quickdraw Animation Society for a while before quarantine, actually a class I was in had to be cancelled last March because of it. I had been wanting to make a claymation for years and was taking these classes to learn the foundation of animation so I could eventually do that. When everything shut down and I had so much time on my hands I thought there would never be a better time to give it a shot. I made a short claymation called ‘Day by Day’, which ended up being in the GIRAF 16 online festival. I also made one called ‘Stupid Santa’ which showed in an online film festival called Aloha From Hell. So, I guess I’m an animator now?

What is one of your greatest indulgences in life?

I love pop music so much. Like, SO much. Oh, and I’m also very into reality television.

How would you describe your relationship with you beloved cat Mallory?

Everyone is super obsessed with their pets, I’m just shameless enough to get my cats face airbrushed onto clothing I wear. But in all seriousness, I found out Mallory has diabetes a few years ago and I think that made me even more obsessed with her. Having to give her insulin shots twice a day at specific times has made her a huge priority in my life.

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Is there any specific painting, photograph, song or movie that particularly inspires you? Tell us about it.

I listen to Billie Holiday a lot. I’ve been listening to her consistently since I was 16, so at this point I feel like it’s music that clears my brain, and that’s when I can get the most inspired!


What Vans are you wearing? And what drew you to this specific pair?

I’m wearing the Old Skool Platform! I love that they’re a twist on a classic. Actually, come to think of it these shoes kind of remind me of Mallory. She’s a classic tabby cat, but because of her frost bitten ears she’s just a little different, and that makes her so special!

What is Five Art and Merchandise and how did it come to be?

Five Art and Merchandise was a gallery and shop that I ran for about 3 years in Calgary. I always wanted to start a gallery that would provide a space for emerging artists to show their work. One day my sister and I saw a for rent sign on a live/work space in the East Village, I was looking for a space for Five AM and she was looking for an apartment. So, we called and rented the space the next day! We were a relatively fluid art space. We hosted exhibitions, created merchandise, worked on photoshoots and videos with local photographers and film makers, hosted pop-up dinners with local chefs…we’d pretty much do anything that gave opportunities to local creatives.

What are the plans for the future of Five Art and Merchandise or do you have anything similar in the works?

Five AM is officially finished, it was super special while it lasted, but it was time for me to move on. My husband and I are in the process of buying a home on a piece of land in Nova Scotia, with plans to open an artist residency there. I would like to channel some of the essence of Five AM into the residency. I want it to be a place for emerging creatives, where they can come to decompress, enjoy nature and create.

If you mentored younger artists who are beginning their art practice or looking to start their own gallery what single most important piece of advice would you offer?

There’s a lot of power in being nice! By being open and friendly you can meet lots of people to collaborate with and learn from.

Any last words or shoutouts?

Boredom is good sometimes.

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