Adventure abroad beckoned Langley photographer and sculptor Desiree Patterson.
Upon her graduation from Langley Secondary School (LSS), she spent seven years roaming the globe, living in such diverse locales as Australia, Banff, Florida, Europe and Asia.
It was during her travels that the 33-year-old Vancouver artist realized her true passion for photography and decided to pursue it as a career.
Now, any opportunity to share her work with a massive crowd of art enthusiasts – like those expected at the 19th annual Eastside Culture Crawl – proves too enticing to pass up.
“This is one of the largest art events in Western Canada,” Patterson said of the show running from Nov. 19 to 22.
“You can visit some of the city’s top artists at their private studios… It’s great for people to see what is involved in the creation process!” she explained.
“This is my first year with the Eastside Cultural Crawl. I’m featuring contemporary and traditional photographic art in LED lightboxes, and my latest metal sculpture, an eight-foot-long, mountain-inspired piece,” Patterson said.
“I have been working on them for four months and can’t wait to show them at the Crawl.”
How it started
Patterson was on a self-taught path, with much mentoring and support along the way.
She initiated her photography business, while living in Whistler upon her return to Canada.
Options there to further her photo education were limited, however. So, she sussed a variety of resources to enhance skills and technical abilities.
Her professional portfolio was born via the myriad of photos she shot daily.
“I learned everything the long and hard way, developing individual style without too much critique. I wasn’t influenced by opinions. I achieved a number of things I am not sure I would’ve, had I been told what to do in, a certain order or timeframe.”
How did Patterson begin?
“It’s funny how things worked out,” she said. “I got into photography when I was five. It was a thing my grandmother and I did together for years. I took photography classes in high school; loved working in the darkroom and with proper Single Lens Reflex (SLR) cameras. I never thought, in my wildest dreams, it could be a profession for myself!”
When reality struck
Fate caught up to Patterson in Paris.
“Sitting in a cafe one day, loving life, I looked down only to realize my purse and camera had been stolen. That’s when I realized how much photography meant to me!”
That was the first of several pivotal experiences leading her to finally and undoubtedly know what it was she was “meant to do.”
She’s been chasing her dream ever since.
When Patterson found herself back in Langley in 2011, she started studying small business entrepreneurship at BCIT (British Columbia Institute of Technology), and this year, she began studies in metal sculpture at the Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
Engaging those entrepreneurial skills, she created a series of images and art greeting cards, available through a number of retailers.
“Urban Barn is one of my favourite stores” she said. “I was incredibly excited by the opportunity to have my decor inspired work included in their wall art selection. Two years on, and thousands of my prints are in the homes and offices of Canadians across the country.”
Getting into Whole Foods Market was on the top of her wishlist, and – finally – three years ago, it happened.
“They are a supportive, community-oriented company,” she added.
Patterson doesn’t take her successes lightly.
“Seeing my artwork in people’s homes is the highest honour.”
Two recent moments stood out for her.
The first was a large commission by “a sweet couple in West Vancouver,” who commissioned three large pieces for their home. One of those is her largest aluminum print to date, measuring seven feet wide by three feet high.
The second milestone is the installation of a full-wall mural at Crystal Lodge and Suites in Whistler, spanning 17 feet wide and eight feet high.
Advocate at heart
Inspirations stem from Patterson’s connection with nature.
And asked about her photographic muses, Patterson quickly pointed to Ansel Adams and Edward Burtynsky, “both advocates for the environment, who have truly impacted the public through their work.”
“I’ve always cared deeply about the environment. I strive to create art that provides the natural world with a stronger voice in human affairs. My work is the most effective way to advocate my concerns and engage the public. In the near future, I hope to create public art that reiterates the importance of sustainability and environmental preservation.”
When asked about her biggest artistic challenge, Patterson responded: “Rejection is by far the hardest part of my job. It always takes a toll. But at the end of the day, I remember to be grateful for all the blessings in my life.”
To experience Patterson’s work during the Crawl, people can meet her at the Vancouver Community Laboratory, 1907 Triumph St.. where she will be exhibiting with 10 other multi-media artists.
More information about the artist is available at www.desireepatterson.com.