Aidan Thorne

Fine Art Across Many Mediums: Aidan Thorne Makes His Mark

Drawing, making music, carving and painting, Aidan Thorne is a multi-disciplinary artist making his mark in a variety of ways. He was born in Victoria and moved up to the Cowichan Valley at the age of four. He went to elementary, middle, and high school there, then a year at Camosun College before deciding to go to art school. He received a painting and drawing degree from Concordia University and also took guitar lessons. 

The culture shock he experienced going to Concordia in Montreal was a challenge. In some areas of the city nobody spoke English and he found formatting academic papers challenging. He had to work hard to keep his grades up to maintain his band funding. When asked for his advice for youth considering leaving their home communities to go to school, he said, “It’s usually a very good idea.” He found that his band was happy to provide funding for his education. He suggests exploring different educational paths and trying new things. “Just stay curious,” he continues.

After he graduated, Thorne worked with a weaver who did beadwork. While he was still painting a bit, he was feeling stagnant and wanted to switch mediums. He got back into carving, something he learned in high school. He moved to Vancouver to pursue carving again and a woman he met at an event he helped cater offered to introduce him to carvers in the area. Those introductions led to carving mentorships he received grants from the First Peoples’ Cultural Council to pursue. This funding let him focus on carving and not on how he was going to make rent. 

His love of art started young. He said he wanted to be an artist when he grew up when he was a toddler and tried to sell his art outside of a gas station when he was just six. He was also obsessed with Elvis, dressing up as him for Halloween. Sometimes he covers Elvis songs but more often he writes his own songs. Songwriting is a process that becomes effortless after a while. What he has found challenging at times is fighting against the resistance within himself, the way he procrastinates and sometimes wants to avoid his carving work.

Illustration by Shaikara David

If he could share a message with his younger self, it would be to encourage himself to read. To maintain his wellness now he takes melatonin gummies to sleep and drinks a lot of water to stay hydrated. “You have to take care of yourself as if you're taking care of a baby, just the basic things,” he confides. He’s noticed many adults neglect their wellness and some of their stress can be alleviated by sleeping, eating and drinking enough to put them in a good mental space. Meditation is another practice that helps keep him grounded and he abstains from alcohol and marijuana. 

When he needs musical inspiration to write lyrics, he imagines having a conversation with a grandmother figure, his own grandmother who knows him completely. “If you imagine that there's someone who's always followed you your whole life and knows everything about you, how easy would it be to talk to them? I sing to that kind of presence,” he explains. For his Coast Salish art inspiration, he recently created a piece based on a totem pole he envisioned as he was imagining his new life in Vancouver. 

His advice to artists seeking inspiration is to pay attention to life and write things down in a journal to start to notice the symbolism in life which can be used for any art form. He’s had songs come to him in dreams and he’s found he can find more inspiration by being in tune with inexplicable things. His other advice is not to sell yourself short - something he really struggled with. He didn’t feel like he deserved the funding he received when he should have just appreciated it. “You have the right to enjoy life,” he counsels. He suggests asking for as much help as you can and being grateful to avoid ending up spoiled.  

With all these opportunities to create art, Aidan Thorne has a lot to be grateful for. From drawing, making music, carving and painting, he is a multi-disciplinary artist making his mark in a variety of ways. The pursuit of his craft has taken him across the country but the inspiration for his work comes from his heart, mind and soul. 

Thanks to Alison Tedford Seaweed for authoring this article.

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Key Parts

  • Career
  • Identity
    First Nations
  • Province/Territory
    British Columbia
  • Date
    January 23, 2024
  • PSI
    No items found.
  • Discussion Guide
    create to learn discuss

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