Art Fair Fridays – Colleen McCarten

Heirloom & Knot and I are very happy to share with you our latest installment in our ongoing Art Fair Fridays series where we bring you weekly design inspiration and exclusive interviews with the talented artists that inspire our creativity on a daily basis.

Today, we’re thrilled to have Toronto based textile artist, Colleen McCarten with us.  Her three dimensional fibre pieces are both intricate and minimal…each work speaks to an aesthetic that has a definitively modern edge but also, a love for tradition.  McCarten’s portfolio feels decidedly graphic but also warm and inviting.

How long would you say you have been a professional artist? I suppose you could say since graduating from OCAD U, which happened 2 1/2 years ago. Although I also have a couple freelance gigs in the art and design world that I do alongside my art practice.

What is the best advice you’ve ever received about your art? There is a quote from Ira Glass that I like to reference when making something that doesn’t quite turn out: 
“Nobody tells this to people who are beginners, I wish someone told me. All of us who do creative work, we get into it because we have good taste. But there is this gap. For the first couple years you make stuff, it’s just not that good. It’s trying to be good, it has potential, but it’s not. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, is still killer. And your taste is why your work disappoints you. A lot of people never get past this phase, they quit. Most people I know who do interesting, creative work went through years of this. We know our work doesn’t have this special thing that we want it to have. We all go through this. And if you are just starting out or you are still in this phase, you gotta know its normal and the most important thing you can do is do a lot of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week you will finish one story. It is only by going through a volume of work that you will close that gap, and your work will be as good as your ambitions. And I took longer to figure out how to do this than anyone I’ve ever met. It’s gonna take awhile. It’s normal to take awhile. You’ve just gotta fight your way through.”

How would you describe your creative process? I am inspired by construction/fabrication techniques and I enjoy making work that highlights the process of creation in some way. If I am feeling blocked I will find a material that interests me and then explore the sculptural possibilities. Also repetition as inspiration typically gets me somewhere interesting. I don’t always have a direct plan of how a piece will turn out, I like to let the material I am working with dictate the final look of the piece.

What is your favourite medium to work in? I come from a fibre/textile background, so I definitely enjoy working with fibre – although exploring new materials and techniques is my favourite thing to do.

What has been your biggest career highlight to date? Hmm.. I am working on a couple of commissions that I am excited about but shouldn’t give away too many details until they are completed.. Probably having a piece in the Canadian Art Magazine fundraiser auction that happened last month! 

How would you describe your signature style? My friend once described my fashion sense as minimalist punk, which I sometimes think could be used to describe my artwork as well. 

Where do you find your greatest creative inspiration? Exploring new materials, sleepless nights, and the general drive to create

What do you think sets your work apart from other designers? I think that everyone has their own approach to art. We all come from different backgrounds with different life stories that can’t help but influence the work we produce. So my life, my upbringing, my experiences, are what one might say ‘sets my work apart’.  

Art Fair Fridays - Colleen McCarten

Colleen McCarten

No. 1  Kate Spade – June Lane Accent Plate – $45.00

No. 2  Indigo – Super Soft Reading Throw – Dark Shadow – $19.50

No. 3  Hudsons Bay – Palmerston Ceiling Lamp in Distressed Black – $599.50

No. 4  Aldo – Canto Black Clutch – $40.00

No. 5  Boutique Moschino – Tinsel-covered leather Mary Jane pumps – $545.38

No. 6  Rugs USA – Berber Shaggy BR01 Rug – $1569.00

No. 7 Kelly Wearstler – Melange Chair – $5,500.00

No. 8  Dior – DIOR Diorshow New Look Mascara – $32.40–24


McCarten’s works reflect a restrained and graphic eye but also seem traditional in their approach. Her pieces feel like they’ve evolved from notable historical roots…almost like they’ve taken tradition and twisted it into something that’s completely new.  The end result is a portfolio that’s filled with a rich, layered, beautiful modernity.

Here’s a further look at her beautiful portfolio…

art fair fridays colleen mccarten fabricate wire christine dovey heirloom and knot

art fair fridays colleen mccarten moire series christine dovey heirloom and knot

art fair fridays colleen mccarten tapestries christine dovey heirloom and knot

art fair fridays collen mccarten christine dovey heirloom and knot

art fair fridays colleen mccarten fabricate christine dovey heirloom and knot

Cool with a capital C.


  1. Tamara Joyce

    Wow, I love this one.
    I am always so impressed with the artists you keep us updated with

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