Many artists claim to need restriction in order to thrive — Matthew Barney famously made a series around the subject — and find the idea of freedom paralyzing, like standing at the edge of a creative abyss. Vancouver native Monika Wyndham, on the other hand, seems to be energized by endless possibility. In February, she left a full-time position art-directing interiors for the Canadian clothing chain Aritzia to move to Brooklyn and freelance, and she’s taken to the professional vacuum with a kind of giddy abandon, flitting among dozens of ideas she finally has time to follow through on — even if she’s unsure as to what end.
And then there’s the high she gets from losing herself in one of her biggest sources of artistic fodder, whose vastness is practically immeasurable: Google Images. “It’s just baffling to me how much information exists on the internet, and the fact that you can enter funny combinations of words and yield the most insane multitude of search results,” she muses. “It’s so real because it’s uncensored, and you see this wild smattering of photos people have knowingly or unknowingly thrown onto the web.” She saves the best and most eccentric of them inside her “Funny Cool” desktop folder. Some go on to become digital illustrations and animated gifs in her professional portfolio, and others are starting points for actual paintings.
After growing up painting and drawing, Wyndham studied graphic design in college, and for Aritzia created everything from scarves, to nouveau–New Age wall murals, to store displays in the shape of geodesic domes. Since February, she’s begun several sculptures in her home studio in Bushwick, made a one-off miniature diorama for a Dwell photo shoot, and started a line of jewelry whose initial offering — a pencil sharpener ring in sterling silver — debuted at Partners & Spade during this month’s Fashion’s Night Out. “This year is all about tuning back in to who I am and what I actually want to be doing,” she explains. “If you want to sustain your creativity over time, you have to find that thing.” Even, presumably, if the thing comes in multiple forms.
When Sight Unseen visited Wyndham’s studio, we became strangely taken with her bizarre gifs, with Funny Cool, and with Google Images’s status as a near-universal obsession among 21st-century designers. She quickly agreed to choose some of her favorite specimens and turn them into a special internet art piece made just for us, which is pictured in the first three images of this slideshow. The following eight are examples of Wyndham’s existing work, including the ring, shop windows and displays for Aritzia, plus a cat-printed scarf she made for the store’s in-house clothing line A Moveable Feast. For the rest, like an animation of four before-and-after pictures featuring women who have had nosejobs, pay a visit to Wyndham’s site.