Catching Up With Artist Tristesse Seeliger Before Her Upcoming Show

Photo by David Crompton

At Scout we are inspired by people who create, inspire, and get shit done. We recently met a mixed media artist who hits each of those notes loud and clear. Tristesse Seeliger dabbles in a variety of mediums like painting, collage, and printmaking. Her most recent collection collages maps to create geometrically precise images challenging our perception of land and space. A graduate from the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, Tristesse gives back to the local art scene by way of teaching. She’s been an art teacher with the Vancouver School Board for 16 years. She is also the wife to photographer and graphic designer David Crompton and the mother of two kids. Catch Tristesse’s work on the walls of Kafka’s Coffee House on Main Street starting March 3rd.

What are three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there? I live in False Creek and it’s a great neighbourhood. When I walk out of my house I am on the seawall looking at the city skyline, mountains, ocean and three bridges. I am a runner, so I love that I can step out my door and basically access the whole city by seawall on foot or bike without having to go on a street. I live in a Co-op and my neighbours are friends and my community. My children have had more independence living here because they can make their own arrangements with friends to hang out and aren’t reliant on us to drive them around. I love that my neighbourhood is so green and that there is a commitment to public art near us. I particularly love the Giants by Os Gemeos on the cement factory silos on Granville Island.

Four words that capture your design style: Metaphoric, geometric, rhythmic, handmade.

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Tell us about your favourite space to work. My studio is in the Acme building behind The Gam Gallery at 110 East Hastings. There is plenty to love about working here. I share a studio with creative people making and doing creative things. Working in a shared space is inspiring and very important to me because it’s a hub of activity, ideas and possibilities. Having other artists around is essential so that you can bounce ideas off of and basically support each other. I love that my studio is attached to the Gam Gallery and that Julia Kruetz and Tarah Hogue, the curators here, are always putting on great shows.

On your website you list artists that inspire you, tell us about them…  We all come from somewhere and are motivated and inspired by ideas around us and it is important to acknowledge those people who sparked our hearts and minds. My husband, David Crompton, is an artist and he has inspired me artistically from the moment I met him until now. He sees the world with an elegance that brings poetry to the everyday and he has always encouraged me to do the same. I have a mathematician friend Nathalie and she inspires me because she has introduced me to math stories and encourages me to explore math and art and where the two overlap. Maya Lin is an influence on me because of her work and her story. Her work is sculptural and big and has lots to do with mapping, all of which I am interested in. Maya Lin’s studied as an architect and artist and has merged both those practices into her own unique career. She won a blind open public art competition for the Vietnam War Memorial and when it was discovered that she was a woman still in grad school and Asian her design immediately was scrutinized and criticized exposing racism, power politics and misogyny. I love Gunta Stolz’s textile design. It is amazing! I love the pattern, colour and textures. I love work that is both beautiful and practical and meant to be enjoyed. I also come from a family and friend group of creative people and these people live creative lives and it is impossible to not be inspired by them.

Your art tends to incorporate a mixture of mediums, what is the most important tool in your studio? My brain.


Why do you think Vancouver is such a good city for independent design? Besides all the natural beauty around us, I am going to give a shout out to the teachers here. Our city has many great educators working to inspire talent, nourish and grow the intellectual/creative capacity of our population. So I am going to say our teachers are a large part of why we have a strong creative community!

Name three places you would have to take someone new visiting the city. Vancouver’s ramen game is so strong that I think the first thing I would do with new visitors is take them for Ramen and there just happens to be a great ramen restaurant near my studio, The Ramen Butcher. I would take visitors to Spanish Banks because it has a beautiful view of the city with a long picturesque beach, sand and ocean as far as the eye can see. My third choice would be to take them to see a music show at the Imperial. I love that place. It has a sweet sound system; it’s a nice size and the bathrooms have beautiful tiles.

If you were to choose one of your collages or creations to highlight to our readers, which one would you choose, and why? That is a tough decision but if I have to choose I think I’ll go with Territory 31, which is a map, collage on wood panel that uses a Penrose pattern. Physicist and mathematician Roger Penrose created this pattern. I used 10 different maps from the Geological survey of Canada and Tufts University to create it. I focused on the shades of blue and orange and the textures of the topography to place each piece. The Penrose collages that I have been doing lately all have a map of the heavens worked in to them. This piece really looks and feels like a quilt so with the geometry, cartography and quilt-like look there are lots of possible meanings people can ponder.


Your work integrates a variety of influencing factors such as geometry and geography, is there a tool or skill you’d like acquire or a subject you’d like to further explore to improve your craft? If so, how would it enhance your art? Well, 2 years ago I took a couple of courses in wood-working which I loved. I felt like I was just getting started with that medium but the more you know the less you know. My brother Dirk Seeliger is a master woodworker so he has always inspired me. I want to build more sculptural pieces in the future so I am keenly interested in building with wood.

What sort of music do you listen to when you are working? I love music and my tastes are varied. Right now I am listening to ambient music that creates tone but doesn’t pull focus. I like down/mid-tempo electronic music, Nils Frahm, Ólafur Arnalds, Nick Cave, Ta-ku, Shigeto, Suzanne Kraft, Memory Tapes, Bing and Ruth and Madlib. Music is an endless source of inspiration always and forever.


There are 2 comments

  1. Breathtakingly complex, provocative, revolutionary and totally COOL!
    I loved the interview!

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