If you are from Montreal, then you know that Cirque du Soleil is a regional concept from none other than Guy Laliberte, one of the city’s beloved entrepreneurs and creative masterminds. The costumes, the colors, the stories, the talent, the music and of course the visual appeal of their fantasy world are marvelous…It is safe to say they work with the most talented artistic minds out there. Heidi Taillefer has been one of their source of visual outputs since their earlier days of the 90s. Her extraordinary talent and unique style have captured the attention of Guy, who has the means to showcase any artist in the world! Her mysterious, unique and intricate art are part of the upscale collections of the Cirque as well as Laliberté’s personal one and we are not surprised.
Her style is an original fusion of surrealism, contemporary realism and classical figurative painting combined with influences from the realms of technology, philosophy, and biology. Her skills and imaginary mind have brought her to create pieces that are hard to forget. It is easy to get completely mesmerized by all the details in her paintings.
When I first saw her arts, I felt they came from a peculiar mind which peaked my curiosity. I was eager to meet and visit her studio to try to understand the artist behind the fantasy world she creates. Her studio is, in fact, an authentic industrial loft in the mile end that had a lot of character. We started chatting, and I discovered how her life unrolled into being an internationally collected artist that is showcased in galleries/museums around the world.
Heidi’s art education started as a child at La Palette Art School where she spent ten years as a student. Located in Beaconsfield, Montreal’s west island, the school was founded by German-born artist Renata Heidersdorf. Her talent was quickly noted by her teacher who let her create slight variations of the requested projects. Where did her desire to create “robotic creatures” come from? Apparently, it has always come naturally. Quite remarkable! She notes the example of imagining a mechanical pumpkin while her classmates are painting traditional arrays of flowers. Of course, her style has evolved over the years but the need to draw detailed images of smiles’ is innate.
Heidi started her career as an illustrator after studying at McGill in 1993. Even though it does not seem long ago, that business has since been shunning out by computerized graphic design. However, being an illustrator gave her the chance to gain professional experience and expand her skill set. Her artistic practice started with watercolor but she self-taught herself to use acrylic and then oil during her illustrator career. Her successful colleague, Sigmund Pifko, was the main catalyst in her development of these new techniques. Of course, it took time and patience but she clearly successfully became a pro. She is now even an occasional teacher at Syn Studio in Montreal.
Not long after, in 1996, the Yves Laroche gallery spotted her remarkable talent and started selling her artwork as a professional fine artist while she continued doing illustrations. She eventually became a full-time professional fine artist solely represented by the gallery. Over the years, she has achieved to gain corporate clients that include (but not limited to) Infiniti (she painted a car!), Bombardier, Richard Mille, Montreal Casino, NFL, Forbes Magazine, Hasbro Toys. She even had the chance to meet and present her work to Bono himself, who loved her exposition. It is clear to say that she has marked the lives of many artsy people.
Some of the more personal information she shared with us revolved around her love of adventurous travel, sometimes solo. She notes a dramatic story where she broke her arm in India while riding on a camel. She had to go to different hospitals to get it properly treated which she took in stride. Luckily, her arm (and talent!) were intact from the accident. Travelling is one of her creative inspirations, and she takes the time to explore new places. She has spent time in Canada’s Yukon, Galapagos Islands, and Colombia to name a few. Taillefer comes across as a passionate, curious and genuine person with a love of living life to the fullest.
She seems genuinely drawn into her work in which every piece she makes receives as much love as the other. While she talks about past experiences, she endearingly remembers each piece in detail. There is a long creative process for each painting, she states that a significant work can take over one month of full-time effort. Each and every one was her “baby” at some point in time, and each has a special meaning to her. From past relationships to seeing a meaningful image, each piece tells a story that once positively inspired her and intrigues you to want to find out more. This is an enjoyable aspect for any art collector.
Heidi currently works with Thompson Gallery (Toronto) and the new Matthew Namour Gallery in Old Montreal. She primarily sells oil paintings, but you can also find some of her penciled illustrations, which are just as impressive!
We noted a beautiful aquatic painting (WIP) that was going to show in Australia when we were there. Her work was also recently exposed in Las Vegas for the exposition Life is Beautiful. Heidi also has a busy personal life as she is now planning her wedding at the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania happening July. With all this going on, you can sense that she might need some time off to recharge her creative batteries! We very much look forward to seeing her upcoming new works of art she will be preparing. For more information on this artist, you can visit her website here and her Facebook page here.