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BEYOND LOCAL: Northern ontario artist's work tours NYC

She's embracing AI and sees it as a 'major growth area in the art industry'
Artist Candyce Rowlandson with the piece that was recently part of a New York City show.

A colourful piece of art created by a Timmins artist to inspire her daughter has made its way to the Big Apple. 

Candyce Rowlandson's Be Bold — a piece of digital art promoting female strength, self-pride and accomplishment — was part of NFT NYC 2024. For four days this month, the artwork was displayed on a mobile billboard and toured the streets of New York City.

Wanting to motivate her teenage daughter, who's settling into being away at university, Rowlandson put her creativity to work.

"Now to see that it made it in the art world and it got to New York and it got put on display, it’s an honour for her and for me,” she said.

“It was an amazing boost. I’m telling ya, I worked my ass off to try and get into New York ... I wish there was more that had been accepted, of course. But the fact that one got in with this highly competitive event, that was ‘Whoa that’s a big honour.'"

In the art world, Rowlandson is known as Charoa, which has been her name on the internet since the '90s.

While creativity has long-been part of her life, art took a back seat while she raised her children, who range in age from eight to 18 years. Now that the kids are getting older, she's re-embracing who she is.

As a graphic artist and web designer, digital art was the obvious choice. 

Part of that is artificial intelligence (AI). 

To incorporate it into artwork, she uses AI prompts, which she then puts into Photoshop to finalize.

“You take that and you work on it and you modify it and you change it, and you edit areas and you put new things in it. It’s just another tool in the toolbox and it’s a wonderful tool,” she said.

Rowlandson sees AI being part of the future.

"I’m embracing it  — the good, the bad, the ugly, the mistakes, everything. It’s super dynamic, it’s a super major growth area in the art industry right now. It’s so exciting to see all these changes and it’s happening fast, you’re constantly having to learn something new,” she said. 

She likens the rise of AI to Photoshop, which has tools that have also been controversial.

“People complained and they were really opposed to Photoshop and now Photoshop is mainstream,” she said.

The internet has been key to her progress.

Through online platforms, she's connected to different people and participated in open calls for work. It's led to her work being chosen for shows all over the world. Being chosen for a Las Vegas show last year was a launching point, she said. 

"In that event, my piece was selected as sort of the winning piece of the convention. So that helped sort of get my foot in the door and sort of build a little bit more credibility. And then I just continued going into open calls, and hoping for the best," she said.