Garth Laidlaw is one of Artfest's first time exhibitors and we are thrilled to have him at the show. Currently residing in Guelph, ON, Garth will be selling his children's books and illustrations on Gristmill Lane at the Distillery Historic District on Labour Day weekend. Atfest is open from 11am-6pm Daily Friday Sept 2-Monday Sept 5.
In Garth's words: I wrote this story when I was volunteering for a rural school project while travelling in Tanzania, Africa. I had a lot of time in between the volunteering work, and I was surprised to find myself writing a lot while I was there. I think there is something important that happens when you are disconnected from many home comforts like electricity, plumbing, internet, and even familiar faces. This is the time spent in the 'unfamiliar world', as Joseph Campbell would have called it. In this kind of setting, I found I was spending most of my free hours either reading what was available at the camp, or writing. Have studied visual arts and animation in college, this was a surprise to me. I realized through this experience that I enjoy writing stories about as much as I love making the illustrations for them. This was a formative realization that provided me with the mental clarity to know that I needed to go through a hybrid-publishing route when I returned to Canada.
Many things helped me bring the project to completion, but many more were trying to convince me to abandon it. By sheer luck and forceful perseverance I seem to have swum through the waves of resistance that I felt while working on the book. Sometimes it seems like artists and writers need to develop an almost delusional but passionate belief that our stories might affect someone's view of the world. Without this, it's difficult to maintain the structure necessary to treat it as a real career. When I think about many of the stories I read as a child, I feel like some have definitely shaped me in small or large ways through some of the thoughts and ideas they expressed.
I now have more story ideas than I know what to do with. Some I imagine as future books, some as animated films, and some as paintings, but I am stuck working within one body and the limited hours in the day, so I must intentionally slow myself down quite often.