Interview with Christy Litster

Art Windsor-Essex
6 min readFeb 16, 2024

Written by Hailley Smeltzer.

Teaching at AWE — Neurographic Art at Sundays in the Studio, November 2023 People in Photo: Christine Paris (left) and Christy Litster (right).

Christy Litster is an award-winning artist based in Windsor-Essex County. Her work is vibrant and intuitive, and aims to guide her audience towards introspection, peace, healing, and growth. She has worked on numerous exciting projects with various townships in the area and is dedicated to sharing her love of art with the community.

Christy is hosting the upcoming Creative Business Bootcamp — a business and career skills training program for artists and creatives in Windsor-Essex. The program will be delivered through four day-long sessions at AWE, with two optional drop-in sessions. As an intern this semester at AWE, I recently met with her to ask a few questions about the upcoming workshop series.

HS: Why are you excited about the Creative Bootcamp Workshops?

CL: There are two reasons actually. First reason being, I think it’s really important to share industry standards. Out there, especially when you’re starting your creative business, it’s extremely daunting. A lot of creatives are more interested in just creating their work rather than spending a lot of time researching — and once you start researching, the more and more there is, and it becomes this overwhelming task. The bootcamp affords all of the participants a way to have access to this information in a quick and concise manner, which I think is going to be really powerful for them.

But also, as I’ve been reworking the workshops, I’ve been tailoring them a little bit more to my experiences over the last 15 years because I’ve learned a lot through trial and error. I share a lot of my own successes, mistakes, and failures along the way to hopefully give them sort of a baseline so when they’re in similar situations they’re not necessarily starting from scratch. I’m actually going to be grouping participants in a lot of brainstorming sessions so that they get to know each other and learn how to work as teams. I think there’s so much opportunity in this creative bootcamp and I’m just so excited to share some of the stuff I’ve learned along the way.

The Goddess Gaia. Mixed Media with Cashmere Fibers, 18x20 on Canvas.

HS: Why is community-based work important you?

CL: I think that the community-based aspect of what I do and have been able to do as an artist is probably one of the most important parts of my own practice. The reason being that I’ve had some really amazing mentors who were always open to sharing things that they have learned and their little tips, their little secrets. They never held their creative tools close to them, they were so excited to share what they knew. I’m not one of those artists that’s learned something and wanted to keep it to myself — it’s everyone’s and I just want to share it. I love working with people, so being able to get out there and share the information is really cool.

When you work with others, their inspiration rubs off on you. Creative business is so broad as well. Anytime you’re working with others, it doesn’t matter if they’re painters, sculptors, or actors — they all have a unique journey. When working with the community, you’re getting a whole new perspective and experiences you wouldn’t get on your own. It’s a very cool two-way communication. I’ve learned so much just by working with the kids at some of the workshops I’ve done with Art Windsor-Essex. They’re just bouncing with creativity, and you lose that as adults. I just love being able to get out there and give as much information as I can, but also receiving just as much inspiration from people who are there in that pure state of creativity. I hope I get to keep doing it for the rest of my life.

Christy Litster leading an intuitive painting workshop at the House of Sophrosyne.

HS: What do you like about working with AWE?

CL: Over the past few years, I’ve had some really cool opportunities working with Art Windsor-Essex — whether creating a mural and doing a five-week workshop run at House of Sophrosyne, or Weekends in the Studio which is always super fun. The dedication to outreach and accessibility at AWE is really amazing, and it’s also coupled with a high level of professionalism. There’s a strong foundation that I can really rely on. You know that you’re going to get the highest quality of programming when you do anything with them.

It’s provided me the platform to be able to connect with a whole range of people that I wouldn’t necessarily be connecting with on my own — so that’s been awesome and it’s always really fun. That’s the best part of it, because community-based projects should always be fun, and you should have a great time while doing it. Every single time I’ve worked with Art Windsor-Essex, I’ve found that all of those ingredients have made really, really successful projects.

HS: What do you think will be the main take aways for participants?

CL: I think the main takeaways that I’m hoping for participants to recognize is the importance of creating powerful connections in the local arts community. We all have this funny little tendency as artists to want to be a lone wolf all of the time. Getting out there and creating connections, especially with people who are kind of in the same place as you is super important. People tend to focus on a very well-established artist, and they want them to take them under their wing — and it’s wonderful to find mentors, but artists are also very busy people. So, find the people in your community who are reaching for the same goals as you, and once you start connecting with them that’s when you both can take each other to the next level. It’s like finding the connections and creating brand new opportunities for yourself. It’s important to know that accessing your network to get that information is going to help everyone’s business grow.

Visions of Paradise. Mixed Media with Cashmere Fibers, 20x20 on Canvas.

They’re also going to have a better understanding of the industry as a whole and learn that growth doesn’t have to be a daunting task, and that there is actually a very clear pathway to growth even in this industry. Each participant has a very unique goal ahead of them, but with the tools available to them in this course, they’ll learn not only to be creative in their work, but also in their problem-solving. I’d like the bootcamp itself to almost be its own entity that’s creating the solutions, week by week, with each person participating in teaching each other through working together. Maybe something like putting the tattoo artist and the potter together, who have very different skill sets, and giving them a common goal to see what they come up with. I think that forcing them into using their creativity in ways they don’t normally lean into is going to bring out some really amazing revelations for them.

Through learning all of the foundations of having a creative business, people will better understand themselves as an artist and as an entrepreneur. They’ll be able to move at the pace of growth that will specifically serve them so that they won’t get overwhelmed and lose their passion along the way. First and foremost, we want people to be passionate creators and bring their work out into the world.

Hailley Smeltzer is the Digital Education Intern at Art Windsor Essex for the Winter 2024 semester through the University of Windsor.

The Creative Business Bootcamp is being generously supported by Libro Credit Union and is partnering with Windsor Essex Small Business & Entrepreneurship Centre and WorkInCulture.

For more information about the Creative Business Bootcamp, please visit our website. Questions? Please contact Nadja Pelkey at npelkey@artwindsoressex.ca

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Art Windsor-Essex

Art Windsor-Essex (AWE) is a non-profit public art gallery that uses the power of art to open hearts and minds to new ideas. Change happens here.