CADETTE WOMEN | Quinn Rockliff

I truly feel like it was only a matter of time before Quinn Rockliff and I would meet. 

I'm so grateful that Quinn's partner spotted the Female Form Necklace some time in the weeks leading up to her birthday. And gifted it to her for her special day – knowing that the necklace's woman figure would have a genuine connection to Quinn and the incredible artwork she creates. 

True to form in this digital era, social media (finally) connected us! Quinn shared a photo on Instagram of her wearing the new Female Form necklace on her birthday, and it's safe to say I became a fan, straightaway. I shamelessly scrolled through Quinn's entire page, admiring her refreshingly open point-of-view around womanhood, sexuality, vulnerability & more. All showcased through her illustrations, paintings, and conversation-worthy captions.

I jumped at the opportunity to ask Quinn to be my muse for a series of new Cadette visuals for the Holiday season (a few of which are featured in this story). And I couldn't help but to also host this brief Q&A with her, for Cadette Woman no.3. In the interview, we discuss the role art has played in her life, how she's navigated womanhood, her advice to fellow ambitious creatives, and more.

Can you introduce yourself – name, where you're from, what you do, your main interests?

Hi! My name is Quinn Rockliff I was born and raised in the east end of Toronto. Beyond art my main interests are gasping when I see any dog, being that person who is always talking about consent, and watching the dog.

What is one of your earliest memories of expressing yourself creatively, as a child or adolescent? 

It’s interesting to think about this because I was never the kid that was good at art, I was raised by two highly creative people and always surrounded by arts and culture. I was lucky enough to attend a lot of creative camps and classes and just try everything. When I was younger I thought I was going to be a Broadway star but who didn’t?

When did you first discover your calling to become a visual artist? And when did you realize you wanted it to be your career? 

I started painting and drawing as a way to heal and work through things I wasn’t ready to speak about yet. I am really thankful for social media because if it weren’t for the platform to share my work and the support I receive I really don’t think any of my work would have ever left my bedroom floor in university. It took a lot of encouragement and recognition from friends, family, and peers to have the confidence to call myself an artist. It’s one of those weird professions that also becomes an identity, and I really love that about it because me being an artist is not reliant on selling pieces, showing in galleries, or even constantly creating work.

I am so in awe of your work & particular focus on womanhood and women's bodies. I truly relate and connect with it. How did that become your primary subject matter?

Almost all of my work is self-portraiture. I started drawing my body in order to understand it and get closer to it. I spent a lot of time when I was younger feeling bad about my body, wanting to change it, wishing it was somebody else’s, and then as I matured and received unwanted attention for the way that I looked I felt a lot of shame around wanting to be sexy. I really see my art as a way to shamelessly explore my desire to be seen. So much of my experience as a woman has been about negotiating what I have been taught to feel and what I feel, so I see my art as a way through that.

What are your greatest sources of inspiration?

I’m really inspired by memories and realizations. I am constantly inspired to create when I think back to a moment or interaction in my life that wasn’t right. This can be anything from major life traumas to comments on an article I read. For me, my art acts as a chance to right that situation or have a shot and changing how I relate to the memory.

What is a challenge you've faced along your journey? How did you overcome it?

I think like a lot of creatives my biggest issue is imposter syndrome, there are a lot of things out there telling you that productivity and success cannot be found through creativity. It’s really important for me to be aware of how my privilege and access to resources gave me the opportunity to begin to consider art as a career. As I grow as an artist I am able to say no to projects and really put my time and creative energy into creating new work instead of creating work for other people that I may not be as passionate about. A lot of the time this comes with the sacrifice of not making money but in the long run it means creating work that I can stand behind and share with people confidently.

What is a project or accomplishment you're most proud of? 

I’m working on my MFA right now, I am really proud of myself for sticking with it, there have been a lot of moments where I’ve considered stopping but I see it as a step towards the fine art world. For the majority of my practice I’ve created works that I sell online. While I always want to have prints available to people who follow me at an affordable price point I really hope to have the chance to show at galleries soon. While it’s not finished, my sculpture practice is something I’m very excited to share.

What message or values do you aim to communicate through your work? 

Take time to understand yourself, and put work into unlearning harmful notions of what it means to be sexy, desirable, and wanted. Make space for yourself and use that space to encourage others to rethink how they approach their ideas of womanhood.

What's a handy tip or trick you use to put yourself into your creative 'zone'?

Kindness, patience, breaks. I get burnt out really easily, and I think this narrative to always be busy and productive is really harmful. I think knowing your limits, and knowing they are different than those around you is the only way to keep yourself productive and happy. There’s been a lot of imagery of sad artists, and while I definitely find inspiration in real changes in emotions and my experience with depression and anxiety, I want my practice to be a space where I heal.

Do you have a piece of advice for fellow creatives trying to hone their crafts and turn their creative passions to careers?

Share what you make and don’t be worried about everything being perfect. I am honestly not sure what gave me the confidence to share some of my earlier work, because looking back on it, it was not my best. But, I was learning and being vulnerable and something about that resonated with people. Ask people what they like, and ask people you admire for advice, I am constantly delighted by how genuinely open to helping others people are if you just ask. That being said, respect peoples time, and don’t expect your success to happen overnight, it’s a very slow burn.

What's a fun fact about you that not many people know? 

I mentioned it a bit above but I am not sure a lot of people know that I am self-taught. In my early years of university, I would go through the aisles of this tiny art store and pick up new products, (googling them on my phone, too nervous to ask for help) and just go home and mess around. I developed my style by trying to emulate other people, and failing.

Connect with Quinn: