No Clue Collective: When art blossoms from loneliness

Pop-up event showcased a new wave of creativity following the pandemic

No Clue Collective hosted a pop-up event which featured the works of several guest artists. Photo Marianne-Liendo-Dufort

No Clue Collective’s pop-up event—held on Oct. 23 in Montreal’s Plateau neighbourhood—featured artwork of up-and-coming female artists.

The event provided a space for guest artists to share their work and their experiences with dealing with the pandemic, such as the solitude and mental health issues brought by the quarantine. 

The artists dealt with the quarantine in their own fashion. The resulting myriad of artistic creations displayed at the event included colourful prints, stickers, handmade jewelry, nail art and hand-poked tattooing. 

Formed in 2020 during the pandemic by Emma Rodney, Arianna Sivira, and Jenni Rothman, the collective provides a platform where budding artists can introduce themselves to the art market and sell their pieces. Their website launched March 8, serendipitously synchronizing with International Women’s Day. 

“What if we just helped people to have a website, so that they can keep these small hobbies that came about during the pandemic?” asked Rodney, one of the founders of the collective. It’s with this mindset that No Clue Collective came to be.

No Clue Collective is hoping to welcome artists who don’t have a website yet, as they would host them on the collective’s platform. Artists interested in joining are invited to reach out to the collective’s Instagram account and share their creative process and operations with the team. 

The pop-up event featured a variety of different works that included colourful prints, stickers, handmade jewelry, nail art and hand-poked tattooing.  Photo Marianne-Liendo-Dufort

Rodney explained that it’s up to the artist to decide how long they want to stay with the collective. One of the priorities of No Clue Collective is figuring out a flexible solution that benefits both the artist and the collective, by helping artists with the cost of the platform and allowing them to keep their own profits from their sales. 

“When you do it alone, it’s really intimidating, it’s really scary, and it’s really expensive,” said Concordia alumni—and another of No Clue Collective founders’—Sivira about launching an e-commerce platform. Shopify, the e-commerce website the collective uses to sell their art, can be costly. New artists don’t always make enough profit to cover the monthly cost, Sivira explained.

Rodney is a Concordia University graphic design student who also features her beaded jewelry on the No Clue Collective platform. She explained the collective allows its members to lower the pressure of performing as an artist by keeping it as a hobby.

This was the first pop-up event hosted by No Clue Collective. The idea of having a community where artists support one another motivated Rothman, the third founder of the collective. She is a hand-poke tattoo artist, who also creates beaded jewelry. Her presence at the pop-up was very popular, as she performed live hand-poked tattoos. 

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No Clue Collective founder Jenni Rothman performed live hand-poked tattoos at the event. Photo Marianne-Liendo-Dufort

Following the forced closure of businesses such as nail salons during the quarantine, Concordia alumni Eva Valentine became a nail technician after graduating in design last spring. “It happened by accident,” Valentine said. “I needed something to kickstart my creativity, but it just so happens to pay my rent.”

A study by the University of British Columbia faculty of medicine revealed that 40 per cent of Canadians reported a deterioration of their mental health since the beginning of the pandemic. This statistic is reflected in Kayla Homenok’s creations. Merging soft colours and mindful wording, she challenges the viewer into considering their relation with their own mental health.

“Due to [the prevalence of] mental health illnesses, a lot of people related to my work,” she said. The online community's outreach, love, and support provided her with the opportunity to grow as an artist. Many related to her designs, and her following on Instagram increased from 60 followers to over 50,000 followers over the course of the pandemic. It fueled her motivation to keep creating.  

“I wanted to feel and speak through my art.” — Jessica Jones-Dumais

“The pandemic made people want to shop more locally,” said Jessica Jones-Dumais about the shift within the local community. She added the shift helped her gain back control over what her art conveys.  After working for one year in the graphic design industry, she realized it was not fulfilling her creative needs. 

“I wanted to feel and speak through my art,” Jones-Dumais said. She consequently left her job at the beginning of the pandemic and dedicated time for herself. Her use of earthy colours in her prints and stickers contrasted with Homenok’s work, with whom she was sharing a table at the event. Nonetheless, both styles conveyed a strong sense of calm and peace. 

The pop-up event also featured other guest artists, including nail artist Lea Calonne and Anayis Ecityan. Ecityan displayed her meticulously packaged stickers and notepads. After using her pieces as an outlet to keep both her hands and brain busy, she began creating with the intent of selling her pieces over last summer. 

Lily Kovač was another guest artist at the event. She handcrafts jewelry and glass work, skills she learned by attending École des Métiers du Sud-Ouest-de-Montréal and by working in the industry for a year. The No Clue Collective’s support allowed them to experiment and play with their creativity.