Niki Kingsmill of Niki Kingsmill Fine Art and Illustration



How did you get into your art/craft?

I’ve been painting and creating since I was very young. Both my mum and grandmother painted themselves, so I grew up watching them. I was always making something.

What do you love most about your process?

I love how freeing it is. I can’t really explain how it feels to have an idea, execute it, and be so energized by what I’m doing!

How has your practice changed over time?

When I was younger, I was painting or drawing occasionally when I had time, but never took it too seriously. I then took a 4 month course at the AGO in Toronto while I was in high school. We learned all sorts of painting and drawing methods. It was a fabulous course that introduced me to so many new ways of making. I think this is when I realized I wanted to pursue art in University.

I went on to study Art History & Studio Art at Concordia University. I learned so much from my studio classes, but still hadn’t really found my own style. I believe it was only when I was out of school, and frustrated with my job in the financial industry, that I started to really experiment with the intention of doing this full time. I really wanted to get to a point where I’d feel comfortable leaving my job, and I did!

What is your favourite childhood memory?

We used to do an annual trip to Maine with my parents and brother. We would drive through Vermont and stay by the beach in Maine, and eat so much lobster! Many great memories from those trips!

What inspired you to become a craftsperson/artist?

Not sure what really sparked my interest, but I know I’ve always gravitated towards creative work. I knew I would never be happy doing anything else. And although I was scared to leave my job in the financial industry, I would have regretted it if I didn’t try!


If you could be any character from any novel, who would you be?

My favourite books to read are Granta’s – they are a collection of short stories surrounding a particular theme, so the charcters are always changing. Too many wonderful ones to remember!

What do you like to listen to when you work?

I actually like to listen to artists like Tycho, Air, and playlists where there are no lyrics. I like to just have music on that lets me zone into my work.

Where do you turn for inspiration?

Everywhere! Online tools like Pinterest are great for inspiration. Instagram is as well because you can see people’s real photos of a particular place or subject. Usually those get me started on a train of thought, and I’ll keep notes of what’s running through my head. Just walking or driving also helps me to think, or visiting a second hand store that’s full of all sorts of unique treasures.


Tell us about your workspace/studio.

I am very lucky to have a large home studio that lets in so much beautiful natural light. I have my prints and cards on display, room for my desk where I paint watercolour, and a corner for all my oil and acrylic painting at the easel.

Where can you be found when you're not in your studio?

I like to take a break and go to the gym, or I’m making something delicious to eat in the kitchen!


Anna Kari of Anna Kari Fine Knitwear

Anna Kari Knitwear


How did you get into your art/craft?

I am self-taught on the machine but I have always hand knit, so understanding and developing work on a knitting machine was not too much of a stretch. I fell into machine knitting after a career in developing printed and silhouettes for womenswear collections. I felt knitting had a certain warmth and vitality as a physical object and I wanted to pursue that. After finding and restoring a number of Swiss hand flat vintage knitting machines from the 1940’s and 1950’s, a process I really enjoyed, I began to develop swatches and full collections on the machines. Ever since that first machine I have really enjoyed the physical process of knitting on such wonderful pieces of equipment.

What do you love most about your process?

That I make 3D objects out of yarn, which is essentially a long line of twisted fibre. Amazing!

How has your practice changed over time?

My work has gotten simpler and more functional over time. I cram less ideas into one piece. 

What inspired you to become a craftsperson/artist?

 I have always been interested in making and building having come from a long line of craftspeople (basketmakers, violin makers, knitters, weavers and clockmakers!). I was always drawing and working with colour in some form.


What is your favourite childhood memory?


Walking the dogs through poppy fields in England with the family. I always collected acorns, wild grasses and chestnuts on my walks.

If you could be any character from any novel, who would you be? Why?

Bathseba Everdeen from Far from the Madding Crowd. Although her character lived in 1874, she followed her gut, she made mistakes and she made bold choices. She was one of the first fictional characters I could identify with. 


What do you like to listen to when you work?
Movie soundtracks and composers (Hans Zimmer and Ennio Morricone), industrial electronica and shoegaze.


Where do you turn for inspiration?

Colour wise I'm very influenced by my everyday and immediate surroundings so the colours in my garden and seasonal changes are places that inspire me. With knitting inspiration I look to the 1940’s and 1970’s for patterns and ideas. I also have a great deal of vintage knitting magazine from the 20’s to 50’s which I return to often.

Tell us about your workspace/studio.

My studio looks a bit like a car mechanic garage and a yarn shop combined. It is very spare and full of light. When I was a child my dad had a clockmaking studio in a restored 15th century horse stable and Ive always gravitated towards a space with character and light.

Where can you be found when you're not in your studio?

At the record store, going for walks, spending time with my son, and growing veggies in the garden. Music and the outdoors are my jam.

Anna Kari Knitwear at Black & Smith Country General

Brodie Dawson from Dawson's Hot Sauce



"Founder of Dawson's, Brodie started the company in mid 2013. He started cooking hot sauce as a hobby and a way to share great sauces with friends and family. This raised a lot of positive attention in his circle and eventually he was inspired by a colleague to open his own business. Less than a year later, Dawson's was launched and he hasn't looked back since!

As Dawson's began to grow, so did it's need for a keen eye in the kitchen. Bruce offered his skills where they were needed most. A Father and a mentor in cooking, Bruce was able to give Dawson's the professional skill it required and the family name it honored."



How did you get into your art/craft?

Mostly by chance. I retired from music back in 2013 and was looking for a way to be creative. Hot sauce was the answer, and for months I made sauce for friends and Family. Finally someone came along and said we should try marketing the sauces. Since then we've been growing and evolving as a company!

What do you like to listen to while you’re working? 

We find it a bit challenging to listen to music while working. Our kitchen is very loud and Bruce isn't fond of 'turning it up to 11.' We tend to just enjoy conversation and each others company.

What keeps you inspired?

A great hot sauce is very inspiring. We make many great sauces, but not without the many failures in between. Sometimes trying a sauce by another brand or something someone just made at home can be very inspiring. 

If you couldn’t be a craftsperson, what would you love to be?

I'd probably still be playing music to be honest. 

What’s your favourite thing about your city?

We are based out of Hamilton. We love the new food community that has paired with the artists all around town. It's nice to have culture, food and night life all together downtown again.

If you could live anywhere else in the world, where would it be?

I'd like to live in New York. We spent time this year in Brooklyn and really loved the vibe. It has a big city Hamilton feeling with the people.

What do you love most about Canada?

I love our cultural diversity here. We have so many people from different walks of life, I feel we get to experience so much the world has to offer by bringing a little bit of everything to our cities and communities. Variety has always been a wonderful perk of being Canadian.

When you get some "down time" what do you like to do?

I love a good hang out. We keep a very active and vast social group and it's always great to go spend time with friends.

If you could go to dinner with ANYBODY, alive or dead, who would it be?

Ellen. Next question! 

What brand/artist can you not get enough of?

We love a variety of other hot sauce companies. Too many to reference really so lets just say we love our competition instead of hate them!

What’s one goal you’re working towards right now?

Increasing our presence both locally and abroad. It's very competitive and challenging in this business but we keep ourselves focused and determined to make waves!

What’s your favourite thing to do over the holidays? 

The Dawson's favourite thing is Boxing Day. Every year we get together for a huge family dinner and we all eat drink and laugh. It's the one day of the year that we all get together and it's very special.