An interview with Natalie Doumkos

Immediately following the beautiful gallery: “Canadiana” by Nic Latulippe, Natalie Doumkos had the opportunity to showcase her beautiful artwork taken from the big city of Toronto in small town Antigonish, NS. I had the pleasure of interviewing Doumkos during her time hosting the StFX Bloomfield Gallery from March 15th to 24th, and am honoured to share her thoughts with the readers of the Xaverian Weekly. As the second part to a two-part piece showcasing the artists themselves, this piece will highlight Doumkos and her inspiring work which, like the work of Latulippe, paves the way for other student artists to showcase their art on campus. Here is her story.

When Doumkos was young, she recalls receiving toy cameras as gifts for Christmas which began her experimentation with the art of photography. As years went on and more toy cameras were gifted, Doumkos eventually upgraded to a real camera in grade 11, which was a DSLR. With the ability to shoot professional level photos in her hands, Doumkos continued to explore and take pictures to build her portfolio, ultimately leading to her sharing her art in the summer of 2018.

Doumkos’ inspiration for creating art came from her love of exploring cover art itself. Her photos gained more and more meaning as she continued her pursuit of art, but exploring was always the driving factor to her work. In her exhibit, there are several individuals included in the photos. These individuals are friends of Doumkos who share in the same motivations for exploration and photography as an expression of emotions, and they inspire her to pursue the art she creates. Art is often seen as a means to portray emotions that cannot be easily put into words, this is the case for Doumkos as well, and her art carries meaning that just cannot be described. As the saying goes: “a picture is worth a thousand words.”

Appreciating basic principles of design, Doumkos’ main form of art is her photography, but she experiments with videography, sketching, and many types of painting including oil, watercolour, and acrylic. She uses these alternative forms of art to diversify her creative abilities as photography showcases what already exists, sketching and painting on the other hand forces her to create something out of nothing but her imagination.

The journey for Doumkos to host the Bloomfield Gallery was a long one, one that began years ago in her explorations in the city of Toronto, to capture the memories she put on display in her exhibit. With taking photos comes editing the shots to the specifications of the artist, which took countless hours according to Doumkos. The idea to host the gallery began for her in October, 2018 as she began to accumulate the photos and stories she has gained over the years. Over the months leading up to the gallery, she had been going through some personal troubles, and her art stood as a way to get through some tough times. When she found it hard to voice her emotions, her images became a kind of healing mechanism. The beautifully written stories that accompanied the photos on the gallery walls were written the day of the opening of the gallery as Doumkos searched for the right words to say.

Photo: www.doumkos.com

Photo: www.doumkos.com

These written companion pieces helped aid her visual artwork and served to encourage the emotional resonance of the cityscapes Doumkos has had the pleasure of capturing throughout her lens.

Interestingly, Doumkos had told me that while editing her photos, the music she listened to had a significant impact on the tone of the picture, where rhythm and energy led to vibrant colours and saturation and conversely, slow tunes with more atmospheric sound led to a more subdued and cool tone. The gallery had not been the first time Doumkos had showcased some of her work. However, most of what has been shown in public places were posted anonymously.

Over the years she met new people who shared the same interests in exploring as mentioned above, and with these people, she has followed her passion for exploring and documented her memories along the way. As her talent behind the lens continued to improve, Doumkos had been given many opportunities working with various companies big and small. Many of these opportunities come with sample products from the companies as a thanks for her work with them which was certainly a perk. While these opportunities intrigue her, she is hesitant to pursue photography as a full-time career for fear of it losing the artist and emotional value that inspired her to begin in the first place.

Exploring Toronto started on the ground for Doumkos, despite her gallery being of much higher quality, both figuratively and literally. She began by taking photos of things that caught her eye, like exciting outfits, but her sights quickly aimed upwards. The theme of “Human” was cityscapes-- to showcase the beauty that the urban environment hides on its rooftops. Emphasizing the ability for photography to express herself, Doumkos enjoys the exploration element to her work even more than the photos themselves at times, so cityscape is her main style. That being said, she has also experimented with architecture, landscape, lifestyle and products, though cityscape and urban exploration is her passion.

As an artist, Doumkos believes no “perfect” photo indeed exists. She does think that Toronto is the most beautiful city in the world, which inspired her desire to explore the city. From her accounts and the written companion pieces found at her gallery it is clear that at times she would wait hours to capture the sunrise or sunset as it shone in precisely the direction she had envisioned. Many of the photos featured in the gallery took precise timing to catch the breathtaking views.

Doumkos would tell aspiring artists to focus on the voice in your mind and your creativity, don’t compare yourself to other people and don’t share your art until you’re ready but when you are don’t be afraid to share. She believes that what you get out of life is what you put in, and to always create art for yourself first and not others, as well as to not listen to the negative feedback from others in your pursuit of art, it is subjective and so long as it matters to you then it is worth it. Being self-taught, there are plenty of lessons and videos to learn from on YouTube or online classes all over the internet to improve your artistic talents. Lastly, once you start creating art “don’t turn back, and don’t let anyone tell you to turn back,” as Doumkos would say.

“This is it for Toronto,” says Doumkos about her gallery “Human.” The journey had been two of the best years of her life, but she is ready to move on to whatever comes next. And recently, she had fortunately been chosen as the incoming VP of Activities and Events for the 2019-2020 school year, so she is living in Antigonish for the foreseeable future. Being in a new environment, she is searching for new meaning to inspire her artwork to come, as it is not the end of her creating art, merely a new chapter ahead. Doumkos’ work can be found on her website www.doumkos.com