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


Recap: Art Gallery Exposition (March 15 to 24)


Showcase of photographs by StFX student Natalie Doumkos

Photo: doumkos.com/Cityscape/

Photo: doumkos.com/Cityscape/

Photo: doumkos.com/Landscape/i-sMmnPhK

Photo: doumkos.com/Landscape/i-sMmnPhK


Nic Latulippe Interview


“Canadiana” exposition at the Art Gallery

March 2019 stands as a historic month for the StFX Bloomfield Gallery as it saw its first two student artists host the gallery. From March 4th-14th the gallery featured “Canadiana” by Nic Latulippe, a third year Politics, Ethics and Law student. Immediately following Latulippe’s exhibit, a second student artist showcased her art in “Human” by Natalie Doumkos. I had the opportunity to sit down to interview each of these talented artists to ask them about their journey’s leading up to their gallery features. This is the first of a two part piece delving deeper into the minds of the two trailblazing artists who have opened the doors for other students to host their own gallery in the future. 

Latulippe started experimenting with photography around the age of 11-12 years old when his father bought him a disposable camera when on vacation in Hawaii. At first photography was mostly a hobby Latulippe  had when on vacation, but slowly he began to take more photos and appreciate the art of photography. Prior to his family going on vacation in India, Latulippe had saved up the money to purchase his first digital camera which allowed him to shoot more consistently.

Creating is an essential part of Latulippe’s life and he is an advocate for others to pursue art as well. As far as photography goes, Latulippe  writes that “each image tells a story and in combination creates associations” in his accompanying written component to his gallery. Latulippe also experiments with many other forms of art to inspire his creativity and work with photography, he encourages anyone to experiment with multiple forms of art and to always think creatively.

Along with photography, Latulippe plays a plethora of musical instruments including acoustic guitar, bass guitar, and both soprano and tenor saxophone. Latulippe also has dabbled in painting and interestingly has helped friends back home modify their cars, which is its own form of art. He also frequently watches movies and listens to countless hours of music to inspire his creativity as well as routinely proving his superb sense of fashion in his day to day outfits. Each form of art Latulippe creates and consumes inspires his creative endeavours in his practice of photography.

Latulippe takes great pride in his work, and it shows when he detailed to me all the work that went in to making “Canadiana” a reality. Of course the process began in the years of travelling and taking the photos featured in the gallery. Then it came to narrowing down which photos represented Latulippe’s quintessential vision of Canada, editing them to his precise specifications, and designing the floor plan for the gallery (of which he made 20 versions). From his Instagram account Latulippe posted videos in which he was personally washing the walls and sweeping the floors prior to the gallery’s opening, showing his true dedication to detail. To get the prints of his photos made, Latulippe reached out to a total of 8 different suppliers and ended up going significantly in debt to get the prints. In fact, on the day of the opening celebration for his gallery, Latulippe  met with members of the Students’ Union to pitch for them to cover the costs of the prints. Every detail of the gallery had to be perfect for Latulippe, everything from the height of the prints on the walls, the spaces between them, the paper used to print the accompanying guide, and the 100+ promotional posters placed around campus which were designed for others to take after the exhibit as a piece of memorabilia. On the opening night, Latulippe had created a playlist of songs that inspired him on his journey in creating the art that adorned the walls of the gallery as well as having an in house bar for students to enjoy a drink with friends while enjoying the artwork and atmosphere of the exhibit. Latulippe had two goals with his work done to host the gallery, firstly the opportunity to share his work in a formal setting for all students to enjoy, and secondly to pave the way for other creators to do the same in the future. Setting a precedent for other student artists and creators to showcase their work on campus is arguably Latulippe’s greatest motivator for “Canadiana.” In fact, Latulippe is currently working with the Students’ Union to develop a program so that other students may have a more streamlined process to host their own galleries in the future.

Having worked on his photography talents for many years, the StFX Gallery was not the first time Latulippe has had his work featured publicly outside of his social media accounts and website. At age 16, Latulippe had a selection of three of his shots featured at the Whyte Museum in Banff. The gallery director was so impressed by Latulippe’s work that he had chosen his photo to be the cover shot for the gallery. Being the cover feature for the Whyte Museum stood out as the highlight for Latulippe in his career as a photographer thus far. This moment made him realize that he had the talent to pursue photography further and develop his creative skills. Being the cover feature for the Whyte Museum stood out as the highlight for Latulippe in his career as a photographer thus far. This moment made him realize that he had the talent to pursue photography further and develop his creative skills 

As always, an artist creates for himself first, and for Latulippe this is certainly true. His photographs are his main creative outlet to share the stories he sees and tell their narrative. Latulippe is particularly interested in revealing the unseen, for “Canadiana” this included the path less travelled across the country and all the secrets Latulippe could unearth behind the lens. A potential career as a freelance photo journalist in the Middle East is a possibility for Latulippe in the future as he believes there is so much potential to be shown in that region. A dream job for Latulippe would be to document the life of one of his favourite music artists, some notable artists are Brock Hampton or Frank Ocean.

The theme of “Canadiana” represents the landscapes of Canada. As someone who has driven across the country five times, Latulippe aims to present Canada in its purest form with the experiences he has captured in his photos. Latulippe appreciates all forms of photography and videography as he experiments with many different styles of photography including portraits, landscapes, astro, sports, and his personal favourite being film which is raw, untouched, and authentic.

Latulippe believes that there is no “perfect shot,” he works with his environment and adapts to what is around him to find the subjects for his shots. Having the contrast of west coast and east coast, Latulippe has the opportunity to constantly changes with his environment in search for his next picture perfect moment.

“Learn to be comfortable in the uncomfortable” says Latulippe, pushing the boundaries of creativity is often where the best shots are born. He also recommends using other forms of art to inspire your main practice. Latulippe warns aspiring creators, “don’t let social media dictate your arts worth,” likes and shares are not a true measure of an artist’s ability and talent. Lastly, Latulippe urges artists that “it’s important to create opportunities for yourself.”

“Canadiana was season one, get ready for season two,”    Latulippe affirmed. 


Local Graffiti


Culture of art