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Telling Our Stories: INSPIRE

Lori Joy Smith, Artist & Illustrator

Sitting in the magical space of artist and illustrator, Lori Joy Smith, it’s hard not to be filled with inspiration. Her artwork and beautiful fabrics cover the studio walls and her enthusiasm is so contagious.

 She studied fine art at Concordia University, and if you’ve walked around Charlottetown, you’ve likely seen a sample of her work. She is the creative genius behind the illustrated maps of Charlottetown found in the kiosks and posted on information boards throughout the city.

For as long as she can remember, Lori Joy has had a deep love for children’s literature and the illustrations found in those beloved books. She got her start designing and creating greeting cards that she sold at farmer’s markets, and fondly recalls one day at the market when she was approached by someone to do a children’s book—14 years later, here she is.

And while this mother of two is doing a job she truly loves, she’s quick to point out that being a working artist is a bit of an emotional journey: “When you’re in the moment and working on something, everything is great, but those times when you get negative feedback or a rejection can be really hard.”

To combat this, Lori Joy draws a lot of inspiration from the people in her life, including her children and her husband, and has carefully cultivated relationships with a group of friends. “As an artist, you’re always doubting yourself. But if you give yourself a chance, you’ll prove that you can do anything.”

In 2014, she started to really take control of the direction of her business and create new opportunities for herself based upon the projects that she wanted to do. The PEI map, which then lead to the Charlottetown map is an example of exactly that, taking control of the situation and making something happen. As a result, she’s currently working on two new children’s books due out later in 2015, as well as working with a band, Bobs and Lolo, and creating their artwork that is being used in a variety of platforms including a cd and children’s book.

One of the biggest lessons Lori Joy learned was from fellow artisan BJ Sandiford a couple of years ago. She advised the young artist to pick one or two things to really focus on and not spend her time on things she felt obliged to do.

“I started saying no to things that I didn't 100% feel excited about and started to really work on the things I wanted to be doing,” she says. “It worked! Putting energy into the things I loved really made things start to happen.”

“Success is being able to live the life that you want, waking up happy.”