I love community. I love working with other people and helping each other to grow and achieve our own individual goals and aspirations, and I love being able to admire, follow and share their work with others so that they can continue to build community and an audience for their work. Social networks are designed to be, well, social and I think one of the best ways we can use these networks is to connect people together. So that’s what I’m doing with this post, sharing some of my favourite artists of the year and hoping you follow along too!

1. Niall Scanlon

I’ve been a fan of Niall for a couple years now and if you have a look through his portfolio you’ll see why. His work is consistently powerful, and tells a detailed story in each image. Using the natural world around him combined with a heavy dose of magic and fairy-tale inspiration his work is filled with dragons, polar bears, and the stunning scenery of  Wales.

 

‘Aberration'

I met Niall this year when he visited England for a little meetup and I was immediately impressed by both his detail while shooting but also in his desire to grow, to learn, and to continue sharing his work with others.

‘The Scarecrow’

Check out Niall here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/nscanlonphotography/

2. Harry Dunkerley

Harry is another UK based artist and he’s a double threat, both an incredible photographer and a talented illustrator. One of my favourite images of all time, one that constantly pops up into my mind and always makes me want to scale back to a more simplistic approach is one by Harry, a long figure much like Slenderman, walking through the fog.

42/52 - The Wanderer II

His photography is very calming, it blends both the quiet natural world around him along with strong light and colours that feel like film. His illustration, sometimes interlaced with photography, is timeless and impeccable in it’s attention to detail. His series called Habitat softly shows the diversity of the spaces we call home.

Habitat

You can follow Harry here:

http://www.harrydunkerley.com/

3. Kristina Kashtanova

Kristina has been a fixture in the latter part of my year, welcoming me in to her life and her home an allowing me the opportunity to be inspired by her wise and confident voice in the world. We first met at the same meet up as Niall and I, even though we’d actually virtually worked together last Christmas on some photos for a project by a mutual friend. Kristina’s work is in two worlds, one is incredibly strong street and body photography. Her work with acrobats, yoga instructors, circus performers and strangers in her street photography are an incredible blend of the strength the human body and also the human mind. It appears effortless and yet watching her while she works, it’s all intentional.

Yesterday my new friend told me: "I don't want you to do with me what you did with Jonny!" and I began to defend myself saying it wasn't my fault that Jonny fell while climbing down (he felt very confident in one arm balance). I wrote a long post here on Instagram (with lots of ego 😒 ). Then my friend told me: "Well, I didn't know that he fell. I just meant, I don't want exactly same photographs as him." Then I began thinking. Why did I feel so sensitive? Maybe because it was indeed my fault he fell. It was definitely my idea and I wasn't careful enough to give him a hand climbing down. And I could because I could lift up two Jonny's. This lesson will teach me to be careful and more mindful. Thank you so much, Jonny, for doing this for me and sorry again you fell ✨ @jonstranks ✨  Pants: @ohmmeyoga

A post shared by Kristina Kashtanova (@icreatelife_) on

Her fine art portfolio is growing quickly and her skill set is growing along with it. Starting earlier this year creating fine art images, she’s challenged herself and spent time learning how to use her background in documentary, street, and body photography to tell stories through her art.

Kurios
You can see Kristina’s work here:

https://www.instagram.com/icreatelife_/

4.  Robbie Craig

Robbie is, like Harry, a double threat. Actually make that a triple threat! One part talented painter, one part talented photographer and one part all around humble and generous guy. I started following Robbie’s paintings last year and immediately felt the same sense of whimsy, appreciation and intrigue as I did when I first saw Emily Carr’s work. His art featuring life in the Canadian north is colourful, it’s filled with movement and stories and shows the quiet moments that make up Canadian life.

 

http://www.rcraig.org/landscapes/big_chill/

His photography, often the inspiration or references for his paintings are equally stunning and motivate me to go out and capture my own natural world in such a colourful and visually impressive way. I met Robbie this year in P.E.I. and heard a bit about his background and how he uses the natural world as inspiration for his work. Immediately I felt like he was a kindred spirit and I’m happy to be able to call him a friend and to hang one of his prints (and wear some socks with his designs!)

You can follow Robbie here:  http://www.rcraig.org/

5. Lizzy Gadd

I’m assuming and hoping that most of you already follow Lizzy. She’s a force. I’ve known her for about 4 years now and we’ve had many an adventure together from wanderings in the forests of the B.C. coast to jaw dropping silence while watching the Northern Lights dance across a mountain lake. We’ve trekked through Irish castles, binge watched Harry Potter in Norway and shared a mutual addiction to coffee that borders on worrisome.

While my absolute favourite thing about her is her kind heart that is both generous and wise beyond her years, her work is absolutely breathtaking. She is without a doubt one of Canada’s great photographers, capturing still moments in our natural world that make me feel small in the best way possible. Her subtle way of incorporating the human element into grand and awe inspiring landscapes is something that I strive to be able to do. She can make you feel calm, serene, adventurous, peaceful and introspective all at the same time. And her pup, Pepper is pretty much a magical creature.

 

You need to follow her work here: https://500px.com/elizabethgadd

Hopefully this post leaves you with 5 new favourite artists and hours of inspiration to look at! Who are your top artists of 2016?