Phoebe Todd-Parrish was drawn to both the arts, and to Toronto, from a very young age.
Growing up in Schomberg, a small town outside of Toronto, she was eager to move to the city as soon as she was able. Years later, Todd-Parrish is an accomplished printmaker and linocut artist whose work draws from the streetscapes of Toronto.
Her largest commission to date: Producing artwork for every one of the Hotel Victoria’s recently renovated rooms, bringing a unique piece of local soul to a historic downtown Toronto gem. (A fitting gig, for an artist who cites the city and its architecture as two of her biggest inspirations.)
At her Flycatcher Press studio in Queen West, Todd-Parrish produces print work in a variety of media and hosts hands-on workshops. “I am a printmaker, but under the umbrella of printmaking there are many techniques,” she explains.
Primarily, Todd-Parrish creates screen prints, letterpress work, and relief prints—including detailed linocuts of mom-and-pop Toronto restaurants, diners, and other local institutions.
Todd-Parrish’s stomping grounds span from the buzzy Queen West/Trinity Bellwoods area, where her studio is based, to the east end’s Little India, where she resides—but she counts Bloor West, Harbord Village, and the eastern reaches of Leslieville as her favourites.
All of these areas pop up in Todd-Parrish’s work. But she also celebrates Toronto in countless other ways through her work, producing books and prints for other local artists and even creating wedding stationery for local couples.
That diversity in practice is central to Todd-Parrish’s advice for other up-and-coming artists: “Try things you don’t know how to do and persist at them even if they’re hard at first. Never stop figuring out what you want to do. There is not one way to have an ‘art career’.”
She also advises pursuing all kinds of opportunities, even if they might not always pay off right away. “I am occasionally a vendor at weekend markets in Toronto. Sometimes they are great—lots of people, good conversations, profits—and other times, they’re not so great,” she says.
“At one of the not-so-great markets, I was having a very slow day in terms of sales, but I met a lot of people—and one of them ended up connecting with me after the market and offering me the Hotel Victoria’s art commission,” she says.
“I think the lesson is: Put yourself out there and go into the world, and even the bad days might lead to really great days ahead.”