Ella Mazur (known professionally as ECMazur) is a fantastic Toronto-based visual artist, working primarily and pen and ink, though she also has some fantastic pieces in other mediums. I had the pleasure of speaking with her recently about her life and her work. As someone who can’t even pull off a proportional stick figure, I was, needless to say, pretty impressed with her skill!
You go by EC Mazur, professionally. Any reason why you chose to do that, rather than your legal name?
I always used my initials when I was signing my artwork. My full name can be long on a piece of artwork, so when I started to create social media profiles and a website, it seemed natural to go with that. It’s ended up being a good way to have a little separation between my personal life and my professional life.
How long have you been an artist? What inspires your work?
I didn’t call myself an artist until I started sharing my work publicly. That was only about 2 and a half years ago! My work is inspired by nature – I end up drawing a lot of botanicals and animals, and lately I’ve been obsessed with drawing space and the stars.
How did you start out as an artist?
I took art in high school, and I always loved it, but it didn’t become a serious hobby until I found myself travelling Europe for six months with a notebook and a ballpoint pen. I brought it to write with, but started doodling with the pen instead. I haven’t put down my pen since!
As an independent artist, it must be a lot of work to get people to see your pieces. What did you do to grow your brand?
Social media has been an immense help. I wasn’t active on any networks before I decided to start sharing my artwork online, so it’s been a slow learning process, but I’ve grown to enjoy my marketing efforts – especially on Instagram.
I also found the print on demand sites I use very helpful. You have your own profile page on these sites, which is a great landing page to show off your work. It’s a great way to meet other artists and have tons of great images to share on social media. Many of the collaborations I’ve done have come from people finding me through my profile page.
What are some things you love about being an independent artist?
It’s always exciting! You never know what opportunities will present themselves next. I find having an online platform to be a constant source of motivation. I’m always eager to keep improving my craft and sharing with my network.
What is the hardest part about working independently?
Trying to learn everything! You have to know all aspects of business and marketing. It’s not an easy thing to master, and I’m not even close to figuring it out. There are a ton of resources available online though, and I’m enjoying the process of learning it all.
This series is about working women. Have there ever been times when being a woman has affected how you do your job (for better or worse)?
Selling through POD sites and online lets you be pretty anonymous, so I haven’t encountered challenges being a woman, or at least that I’m aware of. I’m definitely self-conscious when I’m posting pictures of myself on my social media platforms. It’s a necessary aspect – letting people put a face to the artist, and feel like they get to know you so that you can build a real relationship with your fans. But then you get comments on your looks instead of your artwork, and you start to worry about how you look; if your image is too girly or if people aren’t taking you seriously.
Any advice for aspiring artists?
Keep going! Being an artist is an emotional roller coaster — there are definitely many moments of self-doubt, but there are groups you can join with other supportive artists, and that can help you get through the rough patches. It’s important to remember that you are always improving and getting better, so don’t give up!
What are you up to this season? Where can people buy your art?
I’ll be at the Roncesvalles United Church holiday market in Toronto on Saturday, November 18th. There are two floors of really talented vendors, and it’s a great neighbourhood, so come by for brunch and some shopping!
Otherwise, my art is available as high-quality giclee prints and on a variety of products at https://www.redbubble.com/people/ecmazur! You can also find out more about me at www.ecmazur.com or by following me on Instagram @ecmazurart.
Any artists we should be checking out?
One of my favourite illustrators right now is Yuko Shimizu, who makes beautiful artwork using ink as her main medium. Art is actually her second career, so she’s definitely a constant source of inspiration for me!
Check out this time lapse of Ella’s drawings (video courtesy of the artist).