Welcome to our first installment of our new series - Kate’s Friends! Today, we are in the company of the talented Justine Wong of Patterns and Portraits. Justine is an illustrator and multi-media artist based in Toronto. Her work is very much inspired by experiences in her daily life and her travels. We had tea together, talked about her recent adventures, home and life in the city.
Have you been anywhere inspiring in the last few years?
My year of living in Japan has inspired me the most. I had never been to a place in the world that was so different than the life that I knew but resonated in layers of depth that I could have only imagined. Now that I am so many miles away, I keep my experiences as beautiful points of reference and promise to make my way back there once a year.
I believe everyone travels for different reasons, what motivates you to travel?
My motivation to travel lends hand to my relentless hunger to witness and to embody new forms, new landscapes, and new feelings. When I travel, I feel so much growth and gratitude for my self and for the world around me. I recognize that it is a great privilege, and try my best to share my findings and musings through my work.
You bring treasures home from your trips, is there one treasure that stands out from the rest?
I have so many found treasures that I love, but my most prized treasure are these seashells that I would come across on the shores of Japan. They are shaped like Mt.Fuji. The markings on the seashells are very unique - like fireworks in the summertime or the bursting of the sky's brightest star. I once found the largest seashell of my collection while biking on the top of a bridge stretching between Onomichi and Imabari in Japan — I carry it as my most prized talisman. I use it to remind myself of the beautiful encounters to be had.
If someone asked you for some recommendations for dinner in Toronto, what would your list look like?
So many treasured places! Below are the ones on the top of my list:
Sakai (For their sake selection and tonkatsu sandos, a reminder of Tokyo)
Campagnolo (For their burrata)
Terroni’s (Summerhill) (For their gnocchi and the atmosphere)
imanishi (For their corn karaage)
What are some elements you must have to make a place feel like a home?
The elements I must have to make a place feel like home would be my collected treasures over time and space. A space feels the most like home to me when every object has a dedicated place. When I find a piece of treasure, I feel the responsibility to know where it may rest in my space. A home where every object has a place to rest makes me feel the most at ease.
Are there any rituals you come back to again and again when you need a little self-love?
For self-love, I have been fixated on giving myself space. This can be physical space or mental space. With so much noise and with so many things that promise the illusion of self-love, my greatest gift to my self has been some quiet and a place where I can be completely present with myself. Walking quietly through the AGO or the ROM on a cold winter day feels like self-love to me, or lighting an incense before I start my work day. My rituals are small and unnoticeable, a little melodramatic, and very closely intertwined with the greatest facets of my self.
What excites you lately?
The arrival into new spaces has always been exciting to me. I’ve most recently moved into my new studio and will be traveling to Portugal for the very first time. The entering of every new space resembles the act of planting a seed, and being excited for all the unexpected things that it may grow into.
What does "wear your joy" mean to you?
To me, “Wear Your Joy” means to carry the things that create lightness for you, whether that be physical objects or emotional feelings. We all have things that weigh us heavily and keep us grounded, but what we carry on our shoulders every day can maybe serve to be a little lighter. I use Kate’s bandanas that are bright, light, and airy, to wrap my homemade bentos every day - what I consider an act of love that brings me so much joy.
Interview photographed by Celine Kim