Maybe it’s the incredible scenery that surrounds us. Maybe it’s fueled by the action sports we play. Maybe there’s just something in the water.
Whatever it is, there’s something about Whistler that inspires creativity. From photographers to filmmakers, painters to writers, there is no shortage of talented people in our mountain town.
Andrea Mueller is no exception: this local Whistler contemporary artist has had her work displayed in countless venues and art shows around town and her work has certainly caught the eye of the public. In 2013 Andrea was voted the Best Local Female Artist by Pique Newsmagazine’s annual Best Of Whistler Awards (winners are chosen based on public votes).
Andrea’s dedication to the local arts community, both as an artist and in her role as Visual Arts Programmer with the Whistler Arts Council, has helped Whistler’s art scene flourish.
So what’s it like being an artist in Whistler? Here’s what Andrea had to say.
Summit Lodge: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us, Andrea! How long have you been living in Whistler now?
Andrea Mueller: I’ve been coming to Whistler since 1996, and I’ve been living in Whistler for ten years.
Summit Lodge: How do you think living in Whistler has helped shape you, as an artist?
Andrea Mueller: Whistler is a little pond, so you can find a way to be a big fish really easily. There’s a lot of support in the community for up-and-coming and emerging artists. You can stand out and get the confidence that you wouldn’t necessarily get in a larger community, and then build form there.
Summit Lodge: Tell me about the first painting you ever sold. What was that like?
Andrea Mueller: I honestly don’t remember the first painting I ever sold!
Summit Lodge: What about the most recent one?
Andrea Mueller: The most recent ones that I have been doing have been commissions. That’s been really great—I love doing commissions for people. It’s fun! You get to collaborate a little bit.
Most recently, I did the graphic for a Roxy snowboard. That was taking it to a new medium, which is really interesting for me.
Summit Lodge: Animals are a recurring theme in your work, and you’re not afraid to use colour. How would you describe your style? What is it about animals that you like to capture?
Andrea Mueller: I used to actually paint with more muted colours– a lot of navy blues and browns– when I was back in Toronto. For some reason, moving to Whistler gave me this new vibrancy in my colour palette. I don’t know if that’s because of the natural surroundings or the beauty of the town or the vibrant people—I’m not really sure how that happened, but it did! I find that interesting when I look back on my work.
I would like to think that I’m ever evolving as an artist. I don’t particularly want to stay with one specific style or genre. I really like to play and I like to try new things. Right now, I’m actually working on a new style again.
The animal imagery: for me, I like talking about inter-connectivity. A lot of the time, we get caught up in the hubbub of what the newest gadget is, but we forget about the simple things that really make the world a beautiful place.
Summit Lodge: Your art is instantly recognizable to anyone who’s been living in Whistler long enough, and you’ve had you work featured all around town, from local galleries and shops to festival exhibits. What’s your advice to an artist trying to make it in Whistler?
Andrea Mueller: Get out and come to as many art events as you can!
Talk to people. The artist community in Whistler is really open. They’re willing to share their knowledge. As long as you are approachable and can come up and have a conversation with people, they will definitely be willing to take you under their wing. Get involved! Do something! Think outside of the box! Be creative—if you’re an artist, you should be able to do that!
Summit Lodge: You went to school in Toronto, a huge city with a thriving arts scene. What was it like going from that to a smaller town like Whistler, which obviously has a smaller arts community?
Andrea Mueller: When I first got here, Whistler was a lot different to what it is now, even. It was slower than it is today, as far as pace is concerned.
Coming from Toronto where everything is go-go-go, I actually did get really frustrated when I first moved here. I found that people were taking their time, taking in the scenery, smelling the roses—and I couldn’t understand it at first.
I’ve mellowed out for sure since I first moved here, but I still take the drive and the “go go” attitude from Toronto and apply it to Whistler. If you have the energy and you want to make something happen in Whistler, it’s a place where you can still do that. I appreciate that about Whistler.
Summit Lodge: What role do you see the arts playing in Whistler’s future?
Andrea Mueller: Right now, I think the arts in Whistler are very integral. People are taking more notice. I’ve noticed that people are talking about the things that are happening, anything from the Whistler Arts Council to what Stephen Vogler is doing at The Point, the more grassroots things. People are actually noticing all the arts in town.
Moving forward, I’m hoping that it gets woven into the whole adventure sports aspect of Whistler a little bit more. We have the Audain Art Museum coming, which is fantastic. I’m hoping for good things for the arts community in Whistler—some more publicity and hopefully some more funding!
Summit Lodge: Where is your favourite place in Whistler to check out the works of local artists?
Andrea Mueller: In the summertime, Art Walk for sure because there are so many different artists that are in the different cafes in town, and there is a huge variety. It doesn’t just focus on one genre, whereas a lot of the galleries in town have more a specific feeling and are interested in a specific type of work.
I also like the underground art parties—you have to look for those, though!
State of the Art is another good event. It’s always a good night and it brings out a lot of people. It depends on the season, really.
Summit Lodge: Thank you so much for your time and insight, Andrea!
To learn more about Andrea, check out her website: Andrea Likes Art.