The "Best of the Best' with Renée Gouin

By Erika Preece

If you haven’t visited the Juice Truck in Yaletown as of yet, let me give you a reason. As soon as you walk into the open space filled with light and good vibrations, you’ll notice a few pieces of art on the walls. We commissioned these prints from local artist Renée Gouin. Renée has lived a full life starting from her childhood in Edmonton and Victoria to attending Parson’s School of Design in NYC, to now enjoying life by the mountains in Vancouver. We sat down and chatted the ins and outs of the life of an artist.

Here is the Best of the Best with Renée Gouin!

Morning Routine:

I wake up very early, around 5:30am. I make coffee and savor the quiet of the morning, just sitting in the stillness. I also like to create an intention that will set the tone for the rest of the day.

NYC vs. YVR:

I love New York so much, but I came back to Vancouver because I was missing my family and connection with nature. The concrete jungle got a bit much, the pace too frenetic.

How to get into the creative groove:

My studio in Mount Pleasant has really become a vital creative container. It holds all my materials and has my artwork on the walls, its’s easy to respond creatively when I’m in that space. My regular studio practice helps me stay close to the work and creates a powerful momentum, so I try to go almost everyday.

Essential studio listening:

Podcasts: Waking Up With Sam Harris, Joe Rogan, Two Dope Queens

Artists: Solange, Devendra Banhart, Nina Simone

Audio books: A Girl in A Band by Kim Gordon from Sonic Youth

Best habits for mind/body/spirit wellness:

  1. Vinyasa flow yoga- You have to be very aware of your physicality during this practice and the focus that it requires invokes a quiet mind.
  1. Hiking is important to me. I feel like I spend a lot of energy creating artwork so it’s crucial to do things that replenish that energy.

Go-to Juice/Smoothie:

Straight up green juice!

How to get out of a creative rut:

Comedy! Humour can create a powerful shift.  There are some great specials on Netflix; Dave Chapelle and Louis CK. Lately I’ve been watching Key and Peele videos on Youtube. I like seeing live comedy too. I want to check out the Fox caberet on Sunday nights.

Unexpected source of inspiration:

Recently I’ve discovered a newfound appreciation for classical and decorative art. Gustav Klimt is one artist that comes to mind. His work is so over the top decadent. In terms of my own aesthetic language, I’m always interested in creating a sense of richness and yet maintaining simplicity. I take a lot of inspiration from the decorative qualities I see in art and design, but I choose to refine them by flattening shapes and muting color in my work

Favourite way to spend an afternoon in Vancouver:

I like to go to READ bookstore on Granville Island and browse the beautiful art books. Then I’ll walk over to the Net Loft to Paper-Ya, which has an amazing selection of Japanese rice papers (one of my obsessions). After that I’ll go to the market to buy flowers and meet a friend for a matcha soy latte!

What does style mean to you?

Style, to me, is an exploratory experimental practice in authentic expression. People who exude style are simply being true to themselves. It’s also about self-discovery and being aligned with one’s intuition.

Besides creating your artwork, what gets you into a state of flow?

Play. I love going to the park with my friends and their kids. Kids are so imaginative and fun loving. I also have a soft spot for dogs! They’re so silly and sweet. I feel happy and at ease around them.

Favourite Vancouver brand?

There are so many, it’s hard to pick! Right now I really love Lissu linen- she does handmade, natural linens. The simplicity is really refreshing to me and I love the colour palette. This summer I’ve been enjoying my birch chambray beach towel!

Top documentary pick:

Grey Gardens. It was released in 1976. It’s about an aristocratic family’s slide into decay; It‘s a tender portrayal of how beauty can also exist within the flaws.

What does wellness mean to you?

I think wellness is an exploration and integration of self-awareness that involves humility, curiosity, and open-mindedness.

How do you create community in your life?

In the sharing of my artwork, I‘ve received a lot generous feedback from people as well as invitations to be apart of creative collaborations. This has lead to making new friendships. I love connecting with people through art!

Take-out meal of choice:

The Macro Bowl from The Juice Truck! Also the Hummus plate from the Chickpea food truck.

Favourite Fashion Trend of 2017:

The button down shirt with its oversized shapes and extended sleeves. Classic, simple yet so lavish.

I collect:

Vintage kimonos!

Best Vancouver vintage:

Hey Jude and Community in Gastown.

Daily reminder/mantra:

When I’m willing to be vulnerable, the more clarity and connection I experience.

Favourite BC Hike:

The Sea to Summit in Squamish. It takes me about 2.5-3hours . It’s so rewarding getting to the top and having lunch on the beautiful patio. After taking in the stunning views of the Howe Sound and Coast mountains, its time to take the gondola down.

If I could fly anywhere tomorrow, it would be:

Japan, without a doubt. . Tokyo, Kyoto, Naoshima Island, just to name a few of the places I want to go when I’m there. The architecture, design, the customs and traditions are such inspirations to me as an artist.

For more on Renée check out her instagram or website