Tough Luck with Sandi Falconer



Sandi Falconer‘s irreverent and humourous prints are a delight to behold. Working out of Gravenhurst, Ontario, Sandi’s apparel and stationary company Tough Luck produces screen-printed items that are sure to make you smile.

Sandi’s art was recently mailed to Papirmass subscribers as the featured print for Issue 81. Get to know her better in the interview below.

Hi Sandi! Tell us about the work we are featuring in Issue 81 of Papirmass (not pictured).

Originally the image was designed for a tote. I wanted to make a “Bag Of Tricks” bag. I made a print version too because I really liked how it turned out. First it was a bunch of drawings, they all got assembled on the computer, and then it was screen printed.



Briefly describe your creative process. How do you make the leap from idea to finished piece?

Sometimes I jot down ideas in a notebook and work from there on a stack of paper, and other times I just draw rough ideas in my sketchbook. I use a lot of printer paper for drawing because it’s cheap and I don’t worry about using tons of it. Usually I end up with a bunch of pages of drawn parts to assemble on my computer. I think about if it will be a screen print or a digital piece before I dig in because the output greatly influences the process. I try to keep my screen prints to two or three layers because it’s easier for me to execute, and my digital work tends to have a lot of layers and textures (likely as a reaction to the limitations of screen printing!).

What have you learned about yourself through your art?

That there is an important difference between being thoughtfully critical & just plain too hard on yourself.



Do you have any routines or rituals? What do you do to get into your creative zone?

In the morning I hit snooze a few times, make coffee, sit on the couch, scroll through my phone, and then get to work. To get in the creative zone I tidy up and then try to build up momentum by drawing or working on my computer. I make a lot of to do lists. I listen to music or podcasts, but I’m just as likely to work in silence with the windows open. If I’m not feeling creative, then I’ll just do some production work for my goods line Tough Luck because there’s always something to print. Even when I’m not feeling creative, I can still be productive.

What is the most important item in your studio/workspace?

Black ink, brush pens, my computer, my scanner, and my favourite 10 year old squeegee.



What challenged you most at the start of your career?

What still challenges me to this day – focusing on one thing and trying to calm my mind!

What is your greatest accomplishment?

Probably running into a stranger at a Drake concert holding a bag I made? That was cool ha. Sometimes it’s easy to forget how many things I’ve made and sent out into the world.



How has your practice changed over time?

I worked with a business partner for years and that was very collaborative, but now I work on my own like I did when I started out which is a whole other thing. My process hasn’t changed much, but hopefully I’m getting better at executing ideas!Illustrator-Sandi-Falconer-2016

Do you think creativity is innate or learned?

I have no idea!

What do you think it takes to make original and visionary work today?

Confidence probably? Imagination and style? A strong desire to ignore trends? It’s all a mystery, but practice and dedication to your craft have to be a big part of it.

What life advice can you share?

Find a friend in your industry that you can talk to when you need to be pepped up and do the same for them 🙂 Taking risks can be scary but rewarding. Go for a walk!


Sandi Falconer is our September 2016 artist.
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