Aspiring young artist Dylan Shin ’22 found some positive in the midst of a global pandemic — his passion for and proficiency in art.
“I have always loved art, music, fashion, etc., it was just something that naturally interested me,” says Shin, a Grade 12 St. Michael’s College School (SMCS) student. “I first started taking visual art seriously during the pandemic as a result of losing a lot of my previous activities such as hockey and drumming, but I quickly discovered that art was something that I excelled in.”
Shin was recently featured by the City of Toronto’s ArtworxTO Spotlight Emerging Artists Program, part of a year-long celebration of Toronto’s exceptional public art collection and the creative community behind it, including emerging artists and projects that reflect Toronto's diversity.
“The ArtworxTO initiative was honestly something that I applied for but had no belief that I could actually win it,” says Shin. “The initiative is something that is meant to feature emerging artists from Toronto, spotlighting them and giving them exposure.”
As part of his application, Shin submitted five pieces he was working on which were reflective of his style and ideas. He also put together a short video along with a written statement explaining his work.
The program celebrates one artist per week over the course of the year. Featured artists are promoted on ArtworxTO.ca and Culture_TO social media channels, receive a small honorarium, along with a one-on-one mentorship meeting with an established art professional related to their field.
“It is an absolute honour to be recognized by ArtworxTO and is something that I will be forever grateful for. To be able to pursue what I love is all the validation that I need, everything else is just icing on top of it.”
Although his passion for art came to the forefront during the pandemic, the world of art in all forms has always been of interest to the Grade 12 honour roll student.
“The more that I learn and discover about the art world, the more it interests me. Everything has a message that you can connect with and understand if you look closely,” adds Shin. “People like Jean Michel Basquiat, Kanye West, Virgil Abloh, Takashi Murakami, and Andy Warhol are all people that have inspired me and were the people that made me fall in love with art.
“Inspiration has a funny way of finding me, I let the world around me dictate what's inspiring. Anything from a construction sign to a broken window, random things trigger my train of thought and build my creativity.”
Shin’s work is as vibrant and dynamic as his personality. He works in a variety of different media like spray paint, oil, acrylic, and graphic lettering, and is currently working on multiple collections at the same time including a portrait collection, abstract collection, and a new collection that fuses different styles together.
“I like to fuse realism and abstract concepts to create a dichotomy of contrasting ideas,” shares Shin who began working in the visual arts at SMCS before moving to art lessons outside of the school, and is now interning with a mixed media artist.
With one term left in his high school journey, Shin is looking forward to what lies ahead. He has applied to the Ontario College of Art & Design (OCAD), York University, Ryerson University, and the University of Toronto, with the drawing and painting programme at OCAD being his number one choice.
“I plan on pursuing art in the future, whether I take the university route or jump into the field right away, my artwork is a big part of my future, and as long as I can do what I love, I'll be happy.”