ZAC STREVENS – Montreal
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It was a quest for knowledge that brought Phil Cannon to Montreal from Quebec City. Well, that might be a bit much… He moved for school. But in the 10 years that have passed, it’s safe to say the 29-year-old has learnt a lot and continues to learn with each passing day. That he is still in MTL can be a positive or negative, depending on the day. But as the man himself says, “It’s been a decade and I haven’t left yet, so I guess there’s something about this city that makes me want to stay!”
Right now, Montreal is the base for Phil and for Marrow Quality Goods, a label developed from a passion for drawing, art, and print work. Still in its infancy, Marrow is aiming for something timeless yet personal, and it’s in no particular rush. This is all about growth, and that, like the desire to learn, is something within us all – a marrow that binds us. As Phil would tell you: “Be the person you want to be, at the speed it takes you to get there. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes. Don’t be afraid to fail. Don’t be afraid to get hurt. Just finish what you started.”
The Marrow website explains that “the mountains, rivers, and fields are our inspirations.” Is nature something that personally inspires you?
I think that the city inspires me more visually. The different art styles present everywhere are visually stimulating. Tattoo art, graphic design, and graffiti are a lot more present in the city than in the country. The nature aspect is just what I am thinking about constantly, remembering places I’ve come across, folk-art illustrations from books or old woodblock prints that have to do with those themes is what I’ve always loved. It’s what I am able to pull from that often helps me with the creative or stylistic part of the illustration itself.
Are there any places in particular that you’re constantly pulling from?
Not a physical place in particular. It’s more of a mental thing. Remembering a secret spot, a cool tree or river, then just trying to remember that day. From waking up in the morning to what song I listened to on the way there, that in itself is what created that memory. Then, I just try to illustrate that mood. Sometimes it ends up being a nature scene, sometimes it’s an animal.
What about idols? Got any of those?
Every once in a while I get lost on Wikipedia and start reading an article about someone that lived his or her life so passionately, how they never held themselves back and accomplished amazing things. Positive human beings that contribute to society. Those people are my idols.
And my mom. She’s pretty cool too.
Where did the name “Marrow” come from?
From within all of us. Like the love of adventure, nature, art, music.
How would you describe your relationship with Montreal?
It’s what stimulates my senses, and motivates me to leave.
That sounds like a pretty conflicting attitude? Is it a love/hate relationship?
Definitely. I think it’s all a question of timing. Right age, at the right place, at the right time type-of-thing. I feel like I have to be here and pay my dues for now in order to fully explore my capabilities. Montreal is a great place to test yourself.
How has Montreal tested you?
It’s tested me on a personal and mental level. Getting involved in many projects, growing as a person, and then moving on to something else. Trying to preserve my values and work ethic through it all. That’s how I see this city as my “testing ground.”
Does the idea of never leaving Montreal scare you?
In a sense it does. We all enjoy the comfort of stability. But I know that eventually I will move on, which is what makes me able to fully enjoy the city life for what it has to offer.
If you were to leave Montreal, where would you go?
That’s the reason I am still here. I have yet to answer that question myself!
Was it a natural evolution going from drawing to printing?
Drawing was always the first step. I always loved a cool print on a shirt, stickers, and board graphics.
I studied Graphic Design and did a bit of freelance and hated it. So then I had to figure out how to keep doing this but being able to choose what I printed and what I printed on. If by natural you mean survival – then yes I guess that was pretty natural!
Is there something rewarding that you get from printing that you can’t from drawing?
The power of repetition is an amazing thing. If you draw the same image one hundred times, it will never be exactly the same. Print is repetition. You either succeed one hundred times, or fail. Working in the print business, it’s something that you come to love, crave, fear, hate – depending on the day!
What do you hope to achieve with Marrow?
I just want to make cool stuff that people enjoy wearing or looking at, at an affordable price. Too many brands these days build on their hype and lose their meaning after they make it big. A good saying that I’ve always found represented me is: “Humble Roots and Noble Acts.” Trying to reflect that in Marrow is my goal.
To find more from Phil, visit marrowqualitygoods.com