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Interview with Adam Melnyk: Where Art Meets Engineering

by Jacqueline Hampshire

Having grown up in Toronto, Adam Melnyk now finds himself at McGill, balancing being an artist and studying Bio Engineering (yikes). Adam’s self-portrait caught my eye at the FDG vernissage, and soon after, I got the chance to sit down with Adam to ask him about his work and future art-related ventures. 


Jacqueline Hampshire: First off, could you tell me about your artwork? 

Adam Melnyk: I started drawing in grade 8 and that was usually for school. It was a bit all over the place of course, fine line or pencil but never really ballpoint pen. Now mostly I do work with ballpoint pen because it’s readily available. Although I do have art supplies at home, it’s not really something I’m able to carrying around easily like a pen, plus, it turned out to be a really cool style for me, I like the cross-hatching. 

JH: Do you have any formal training? 

AM: No…well, in a sense, yes. My Dad went to OCAD and is a graphic designer now, so he’s taken me through the ropes and shown me what I know now. Throughout high school I went to a program afterschool at a community center run by a local artist. She would run painting and drawing workshops once a week for a couple hours. That was awesome because we would have a gallery at the end of every year and we could showcase what we’d been working on. 

JH: So the FDG show wasn’t the first time you’d seen your work on display in a gallery? 

AM: No, but it was the first time I submitted something that was under review. It was the first time I made something that someone appreciated enough to select for display. 

JH: How did it feel to see people interacting with your work last Friday at Process(ed)? 

AM: It was a cool experience to see my work amongst everyone else’s. There were a couple of people I eyed from across the room, and I was trying to gage what they were thinking about it, definitely not something I experience too often. Most of my work is just hidden in drawers. 

JH: Could you tell me about the subject matter of your drawing ‘Duality’? 

AM: Funny enough, it was around the end of high school that I drew this work and it was very much in passing that I drew it. I had been doing a lot of portraiture at the time and I still do. I really enjoy drawing with the ball point pen and I wanted to really push myself and make something that was maybe a bit more original. I started by taking a bunch of snaps of my face and chose two to put together. I chose two emotions and angles that were compatible, but at the end of the day, it was really just a rough experiment. 

JH: How did you select the work for the show? 

AM: I actually submitted two pieces to the gallery…the one I intentionally made for the show was the piece that didn’t get selected. It was funny, the night before, I drew a drawing and I showed it to my dad, and he had some things to say about it…and then he told me I should also submit this piece (Duality). I never thought this piece would be appreciated since it was a quick sketch and usually I take more time with my work. Unfortunately I can’t really pinpoint a meaning for the piece, only the motivation for making it. 

JH: I guess you could say the work was part of the process of stepping out of your comfort zone? 

AM: Definitely, and I think it was pretty successful in that way. 

JH: How is it balancing studying at McGill and finding the time to continue producing art? 

AM: Being at McGill is certainly tough; it’s pretty mentally draining. I do work on pieces at my apartment but not as much as I would like to. My brother is at OCAD now and is constantly telling me about all the work he’s doing and it’s nice to live through him in that respect. 

JH: Do you see yourself being able to integrate your artistic interests with engineering? 

AM: Ultimately yes, I had the opportunity to go into engineering, and my parents suggested that it might be a good place to start and I agree too! An engineering degree is great but ultimately I want to do something in the art and design field. 

JH: They definitely seem like they could co-exist… 

AM: Definitely, my mom’s an architect and my dad’s a graphic designer and there’s always some integration there. Architecture is pretty similar to art and engineering… It will all come full circle eventually. 

Check out some of Adam’s other work below!

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