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Interview: Art by Steve Khan

1 Sep

It is my pleasure to introduce to my readers, Steve Khan. Not only is Steve one of the most generous, gentle souls, he is an incredible artist in all senses of the word.

“Steve Khan is a visual artist and a poet. He is originally from Vancouver, but has lived in many places across Canada. Although his diverse ethnic background allows him to ‘belong’ to many different boxes, he prefers to make his own new space.

He is a graduate with distinction from the joint Art and Art History Program at Sheridan College and the University of Toronto with a Minor in Women and Gender Studies. He has recently won the Canadian Art Foundation Award for community development in the arts, and a nomination for the 2010 Mississauga Arts Council Volunteer of the Year Award.”

Steve Khan

MB: Tell us what type of artist you are.

SK: A relatively unknown one, but this interview will change that.

I draw things well, usually portraits. I have painted, sculpted, designed, and crafted art objects, but now also enjoy using text. My current work combines aesthetics with a particular medium to emphasize a concept. Even when words are conspicuously absent, they still influence what I make.

Side note: I have seen art change the world I live in, and still believe it can- so I’m quite romantic.

MB: What is your first memory of art?

SK: That’s tricky because my memory often fails me.

One of the first paintings I made in kindergarten hangs framed above my bed wherever I live. It uses the song ‘To sing a rainbow’ to illustrate a concert I sang very badly in when I was five. Myself, my sister, my mother and my kindergarten teacher are more important than everyone else, so we are much larger and in detail.

My favourite memory of art was Tino Seghal’s ‘conversation piece’ at the Guggenheim in New York. It taught me a viewer could be the subject of a work.

MB: What do you hope to achieve with your art?

SK: A comfortable living would be nice, but I will settle for infamy and gallery representation. Till then, I am compelled to make things without financial gain.

Leslie Dick explained it with these words: “You are materializing- taking something from the inside and putting it out into the world, so you can be relieved of it.”

In terms of intent, I use humour to incite conversation, usually about something unspeakable, with the hope that once spoken out loud, it can change.

MB: What is your favourite medium to work with?

SK: Currently, words.

MB: What has been the most difficult part of your journey as an artist?

SK: Since I was taught say nothing when you have nothing nice to say: first, learning where I want to belong (as opposed to fit) in the art world. A close second is getting used to rejection. The hardest lesson is grasping John Baldessari’s overused quote that “Art comes out of failure”. I let go of making only the ‘right’ choices when I realized my mistakes teach me more.

MB: What advice do you have for other artists?

SK: Debbie Fields (creator of Mrs. Fields Bakeries) said: “. . . the greatest failure is not to try”.

Make things for yourself and things your collector will buy.

Gurpreet Sehra told me : “Take risks. Make work that pushes beyond what you are comfortable producing”.

Since critics will tear your work apart with them, learn how to defend your (self and your) work with words.

Silence is not necessarily a bad reaction; it could be delayed gratification.

Without constant rejection, acceptance (or recognition) wouldn’t be nearly as satisfying.

To avoid learning you inadvertently stole someone else’s idea, read about art a lot.

When you don’t feel like making anything at all, try to remember how you felt when you finished something. Preferably something you liked.

Art school will teach you things you can’t learn by yourself. However, if you find someone who curbs your need to make things, don’t hang around them too long.

Besides that, no matter what anyone tells you, you are still an artist.

MB: Are you working on a current project you can share with us?

SK: One uses pennies, one uses fruit and the third uses vinyl. Sorry, but no more clues til they’re finished.

MB: Is there somewhere that you dream of showing in?

Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal– slightly more ambitious than the wall in Shopper’s World my dad keeps encouraging me to apply to.

MB: Who or what inspires you?

SK: In no particular order: you; Gurpreet Sehra; my mother’s writing; Tino Seghal; my sister; The Permanent Longing for Elsewhere– a screening curated by cheyenne turions; Darren Bader; Andrea Levy’s Never far from nowhere; my father’s criticism; Manhattan; one or two night stands; Divya Mehra’s interview in C Magazine and text pieces; Montréal; Zadie Smith’s essays and novel White Teeth; Breann Ritchie; food- though I have an intense allergy to anything bland; Mark Crofton Bell; Camella Da Eun Kim; Jean-Michel Basquiat; artist quotes that attempt to define art; the sublime; Alejandro Cescarco; Emma Donaghue’s Room; Margo Thomas; William Kentridge; Shyam Selvadurai’s Funny Boy; beauty; the Guerrilla Girls; male hipsters; Zacharai Logan; Laura Chiovitti; Javier Fuentes-Leon’s Contracorriente; Francisco-Fernando Granados; Pauline Boudry/Renate Lorenz; Andy Warhol’s quotes; Martha Rosler; Irmgard Emmelhainz; Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s Half of a Yellow Sun; Hennessey Youngman’s Art Thoughtz; dancers; Thomas Ruff; Asal Aslemand; William E. Jones; Simon Paul Black; Surasi Kusolwong; music mashups; James Baldwin’s Giovanni’s Room; Janet Cardiff and not George Bures Miller; Kent Monkman’s Group of Seven Inches; Sarah Waterfield; Samuel Delany’s The Motion of Light in Water; Amin Rehman; loss; Sarah Thornton’s Seven Days in the Art World; Michael Gondry’s Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind; Simon Fujiwara; critics who probably never were artists but find just the right words to describe them; Xavier Dolan’s les amours imaginaires; and me. Perhaps more interesting than who/what is my list always grows.

MB: One word to describe your relationship with art?

SK: Co-dependent (which is defined as an unhealthy psychological reliance of one person on another)

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If you are as mesmerized by Steve as I am,  make sure to hit him up on the below social media outlets:

Twitter: @stevekhan
Until next time,



Interview: Chatting with the Lovely Emilie Clarke

8 Feb
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There have been quite a few exciting interviews taking place here at Merzybean and this interview will not disappoint. I had the chance to speak with Emilie Clarke, a Radio Announcer for Virgin Radio in Vancouver and a YouTuber. Emilie is incredibly down to earth and relatable and we share the same interests, so I really enjoy watching her videos on YouTube. It was a pleasure to interview Emilie!

I hope you enjoy reading what she has to say and make sure to check out her YouTube channel and connect with her via social media.

MB: What made you decide to start a YouTube channel?

EC: A couple years ago, I was researching Louis Vuitton bags and when I googled “Louis Vuitton Speedy” a video by JuicyTuesday came up. It was her handbag collection. I clicked on it and then watched 20 of her other videos. Then I started watching videos by other girls and I thought… “I can do this. This is fun” and so I did.

MB: Did you have any reservations about YouTubing?

EC: Not really. With my job I have to have a tough skin so it has come in handy once or twice.  Plus, if you want to do something nothing should stop you… especially worrying about what people think.

MB: What have you learned about yourself since becoming a YouTuber?

EC: I’ve learned that my video style is easily swayed. If I’ve just watched a video by @nguerriero19 and then I record, I’m much more raw and gangster like in my videos. But if I’ve just watching a video by @MissGlamarozzi then I’m happier and spunkier.  I don’t know why.

MB: What advice do you have for someone debating whether or not to start a YouTube channel?

EC: 100% only do videos you would like to see. Otherwise you could come off fake in your videos and no one likes that.

MB:  What are your five beauty must haves?

EC: In order of necessity: mascara, concealer, lip balm or gloss, brow gel & tinted moisturizer.

MB: Who is your favourite Kardashian?

EC: Kim is my favourite but I’d rather Khloe’s life.

MB: How is married life? Had to ask, I’m getting married in July!

EC: It’s the same. Everyone always asks but Bill and I have been together for 6 years now. The only thing that has changed is that kids come up in the conversation a lot more.  I’m the luckiest girl to be able to call Bill my best friend.

MB: What does a typical day look like in the life of Emilie?

EC: I do have a couple of ‘follow me around’ videos on my channel. But usually I wake up, have coffee immediately, watch YouTube videos or TV, work out and go to work.  I don’t have to be at work until 5pm so… it’s a pretty chill day.

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You can get in contact with Emilie via her various social media:


Thank you again to Emilie for taking the time to do this interview with me.


Interview: Smart Girl World

29 Jan

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I have an exciting interview for you today, as I spoke with Dominica Valentina who created the inspirational business and website for girls all around the world. I stumbled upon Dominica’s website via a YouTube video and once I finished perusing the website and blog, I was on board with the Smart Girl World Movement. I think that it is incredibly important for girls to bond together, rather than bringing each other down. As a girl who has been through many highs and lows in my own life, I value what Dominica is doing and think that it is valuable for girls to have a community in which they can unite and celebrate each other’s differences and similarities. Without further ado, let’s see what Dominica had to say about the Smart Girl World.

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MB: How and when did the Smart Girl World develop?

DV: I was 15 years old when my mom told me I could be or do anything I wanted in life as long as I believed in myself. She gave me a ring and told me it was my “Smart Girl” ring. She wasn’t telling me what to do, she was trusting that I would always make the best decisions for myself in life and follow my dreams. It wasn’t until I was 19 when I decided to take this idea and expand it into a business for other girls to share and be apart of.

MB: How has your mother positively influenced you to be a smart girl yourself?

DV: My mom is the one person I can go to and talk about anything with. She listens to me when I have boy drama and is always there to give me the confidence boost when I need it. I think the most important way she influences me to be a Smart Girl is by teaching me to always follow my heart. We go through so much in life as girls, we make mistakes and none of us are perfect, but when we choose to think for ourselves, and always learn lessons in life, we grow and become stronger. My mother’s main goal for me in life is to teach me to have confidence in myself, believe in myself and love myself. When you do that, you will create whatever your heart desires in life.

MB: What do you hope to achieve with the Smart Girl movement?

DV: My main goal with the Smart Girl Movement is to show other girls that none of us are perfect. If one girl has been through something, there has to be thousands of other girls who feel the same way. I wish to bring girls together to support each other and encourage each other to achieve any desire they want in life. It’s cool to see other girls comment and really give another girl helpful encouragement and support!

MB: What have you learned about yourself as well as other girls since starting Smart Girl World?

DV: Each blog post I do is about something I am going through in life, or about something my girl friends are going through. It’s crazy because once I post something about how I’m feeling, I get so many girls emailing me saying they feel the same way! Or girls thank me for kind of opening up their minds about certain situations I blog about. When I first started this I didn’t think that many girls were going to relate to me, It turns out we all kind of feel the same way! I have definitely learned that by being real, people will relate to each other, and I think I have taught other girls to “not judge a book by its cover.”

MB: A large part of the Smart Girl World is setting and dreaming up goals. How do you achieve your goals?

DV: I love writing down my goals and putting them up all over my room and bathroom where I can see them everyday! I feel I have accomplished something when I can cross it off of my list! Sometimes I set goals that are too big for myself and get discouraged when I don’t achieve them quickly, so I’ve learned to set little goals for myself that eventually get me to the goal I desire 🙂

MB: What advice do you have for young girls struggling through personal issues?

DV: Just know that you are not alone, you could look at the most beautiful girl in the world and if you ask her if there is something about herself that she doesn’t like, I guarantee you she will tell you a list of things she wishes were different about herself. My main goal with helping girls struggling through personal issues is to love yourself. Constantly tell yourself that you are pretty and perfect just the way you are. Once you love yourself it will show and you will radiate confidence! It’s a struggle and it’s easier said than done, but that is my main goal with helping girls get through personal issues.

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My proverbial hat goes off to Dominica, keep the Smart Girl World spinning and continue to inspire young girls. You can connect with Dominica and the Smart Girl World on Twitter, Facebook, and of course the Smart Girl World Website itself!

The power that girls have when coming together is so much stronger than when girls turn on one another. The perfect thing about girls is that we are not perfect, and the Smart Girl World is a refreshing reminder of this.

From one Smart Girl to another,


Life Coaching: The Creation of Happiness [Interview]

22 Nov

It’s been a while since I’ve had the privilege of interviewing someone for my blog. I could not be more thrilled to share with you my interview with my younger cousin, Steph. It is so inspiring to have someone in my life who, might I add is all the way in Australia, is so committed to understanding and helping others. The world does not have enough people who build a career for themselves that is solely founded on bringing out the genius that is within others. Look no further, your faith in humanity will be restored after reading about Steph’s experience as a Psychology student who works on bettering the lives of others through life coaching. My hat is off to you, cousin!

A little background about Steph:

I am a Psychology student hoping to further my knowledge of the human brain. I love seeing the progression in people when they come to the understanding that they are amazing and they see themselves through someone else’s eyes. It is an amazing gift that I have to be able to witness another person’s realisation that they are truly special. I am constantly inspired and thankful for being able to help a tiny corner of the world.

I am proud and extremely honoured to share what my cousin had to tell me:

MB: Tell me what inspired you to begin as a life coach and your journey leading up to it.

SB: Where to begin… A couple of years ago, my mum took me along to a seminar with her to watch a man by the name of Dr John Demartini speak about his life. Mum said that it would inspire me very much as I was quite lost at the time. He is considered one of the world’s leading authorities on human behaviour and personal development. Needless to say, after that talk, I was so inspired that I felt like I was floating instead of walking. I had all these thoughts and ideas floating through my head about what I could do, how I could help people and basically how excited this all made me! So, I thank mum for introducing me into the world of coaching and Dr Demartini for being who he is and speaking how he does.

MB: What methods do you focus on?

SB: I mainly focus on minimizing stress and how to approach stressful situations. I believe stress is the root of all evil and recently found out it plays a huge role in many illnesses. By finding out what best works for the client, we can eliminate negative thoughts and replace them with positive, nurturing thoughts.

MB: What do you think that people can gain from having a life coach?

SB: Primarily, people can gain a different perspective to their problems. Instead of just seeing their point of view, and not being able to move beyond that, their mind is opened to different possibilities and opportunities that are available which they can’t see on their own.

MB: What is the most valuable lesson you have learned about others through life coaching?

SB: Through life coaching, you really realise just how different everyone is. You learn to appreciate the diversity that is in our world. I learn throughout all my sessions different life skills that really make me appreciate my life a lot more. My clients are a painted canvas that, with some extra brush strokes, can become a masterpiece. Everyone has a genius inside of them, whether it be in the form of art, sport, academics, generosity or love, everyone is a genius. They give me the opportunity to uncover that genius in them and help create a bit of happiness in their lives.

MB: As a young adult yourself, do you find that being a life coach has helped to shape your own life in any way?

SB: Being a life coach has really opened up the outside world for me. It has helped me step out of my comfort zone and has allowed me to see solutions to problems, which I have been able to incorporate into my own life. I learn something different from each client I see and I am forever grateful that they let me into that part of their lives.

You can find Steph on Facebook, where she shares inspirational quotes and is currently sharing a daily tip for the next thirty days with ways to create a healthier, happier you!

Thanks for stopping by, and be sure to like S.A.B. Life Coaching on Facebook!


1 Girl 1 Gay: Chatting with Philip Tetro from 1 Girl 5 Gays

24 May

Here in Toronto, MTV films a television show called 1 Girl 5 Gays (1G5G), which features a panel of five gay men who, along with the endearing host, Aliya-Jasmine Sovani, share candid and personal experiences on a wide variety of topics in each episode. The beauty of the show is that it alternates its panel members every week, so the audience never knows who to expect to see sitting on the couches. There are over ten panel members who the audience has grown to know and relate to. As a fan of the show, not a week goes by where I don’t watch an episode. The show brings awareness, laughter, tears and all other imaginable emotions every week to its audience. Each panel member is unique and speaks his mind, often leaving nothing unsaid!

With that being said, I recently had the privilege of asking Philip Tetro, one of the show’s most loveable panel members, some questions about himself and about his experience with 1G5G.

Photo credit: Brianna Premo Photography

Philip Tetro is a Toronto-based singer, actor, choreographer, blogger and television personality. Born and raised in Mississauga, just west of Toronto, Philip learned at a young age that self-expression, positivity and confidence are vital parts of being the best person you can be.

Tell me how you started on 1 Girl 5 Gays.

I was originally on The After Show (with Dan Levy and Jessi Cruickshank). Everyone kept telling me that I should audition for 1 girl 5 gays, but I didn’t seriously consider it until I heard The After Show was ending and I didn’t want to leave MTV just yet. I had my audition for 1g5g on a Wednesday and I did my first episode not even four days later.

Do you use 1G5G as a platform to educate viewers and put out a message?

I didn’t have any goals or intentions when I started 1g5g, but I quickly realized the reason why the show is so popular is because people can relate to us. All I’ve ever been is myself, and if people learn from that or get a message from that, then I’m proud to do so.

Why is it important to you to have a show on the air about love and sex in the gay community?

I think it’s important to have a popular show about sex in general. Our generation was missing a place to talk about things that every person, gay or otherwise, can relate to or understand. There’s relief in knowing that there are people your age out there who go through similar sexual experiences as you and that it’s okay to talk about them.

How do you react when viewers say that the show represents the gay community of Toronto negatively/positively?

It’s difficult to think that one television show can represent an entire group of people entirely – that was never our goal. Does Modern Family represent every family? Did Will and Grace represent every relationship between a gay man and his straight, female best friend? We represent ourselves and I think that’s the most important thing. It was never my intention to represent anyone otherwise.

You seem comfortable in your own skin. Have you always felt this way?

Yes! My mother taught me that you can’t love anyone else before you love yourself entirely, so I learned from a young age that confidence and self-esteem are key to being happy.

What advice would you offer an LGBT youth, struggling to find his/her identity?

Stop struggling. Let it happen!

Has 1G5G opened new doors for you?

Absolutely! It’s helped me make life-long friendships with a fraternity of brothers that I can turn to at anytime. The experience I have with MTV is so special and unique: if the only door that opens for me is the one with twenty of my closest friends inside of it, then that’s the door I want to open.

What are you passionate about that you don’t get to discuss on the show?

That’s the best thing about this show: nothing is off-limits. I can just as easily cry about Christmas as I can talk about oral sex!

Last question, can’t escape a Philip Tetro interview without asking about your undying love for Madonna and how her music influences you.

There’s a Madonna song for every mood or situation that I’m in. She’s taught me about self-expression, dancing, not having any regrets, how to deal with men, how to appreciate the relationship with my family/parents, and how to deal with a broken heart. Her music is my bible.

1 Girl 5 Gays airs Fridays at 11:00 p.m. on MTV

A huge thank you to Philip for taking the time to answer my questions so candidly. You can connect with Philip on Twitter and Facebook.

Until next time,