Millennial Spotlight with Lia

Admiring cute little French spots (Pays de la Loire, France)

Lia Vazir (@liavart | @velleustration)
Age: 25 | Profession: Supervisor of School Programs at an Arts & Cultural Centre

Lia is an artist at heart who is currently working in the corporate life. She spent years perfecting her art in university and, as part of her master’s research project, she shined a light on art accessibility for at-risk and low-income neighborhoods in Ontario. She just came out with a colouring book called “Notable Women: A Colouring Book” for adults that showcases successful women from all geographic, ethnic and professional backgrounds in a light and fun way. Lia is a passionate, creative soul that considers herself an “old millennial”.

Read more about Lia’s thoughts on our generation below in today’s Millennial Spotlight.

1. What are some characteristics that you share with other millennials?
Like other millennials, I binge-watch alot of shows on Netflix. I’ve gone through Stranger Things, Friends, Terrace House (all of them from Girls & Boys in the City to the Hawaii one to New Beginnings), and British drama series like The Crown and Downtown Abbey. I also use social media outlets – not to the extreme like I don’t have Snapchat and Twitter I only use rarely, but I Instagram almost everyday.

I have this millennial anxiety as well. It’s this anxiety that comes from our generation being really self-absorbed and self-aware. I think that the exposure and easy access to everything instantly can not only be overwhelming sometimes but it also makes you feel that life is so short and you are expected to have so many qualifications and accomplishments before a certain time frame in order to be successful and able to compete. There is alot of competition for everything, but especially for jobs and careers. In our parent’s generation there were stay at home moms, but now young people of both genders are looking for jobs and although jobs have increased so has our population and the amount of people looking for work. In addition, alot of young adults are used to instant gratification, so working towards a long-term goal can sometimes feel discouraging.

Another trait that millennials have is that we are very eco-conscious. As much as our world is wasteful (i.e. fast fashion, exploiting resources, etc.), that doesn’t account for all of us. Many of us see ourselves as change makers and are motivated and inspired to take on a big lifestyle change to reduce our footprint on the planet. For example, I know someone who lives on the more radical side. She lives zero-waste, buys local, doesn’t use plastic bags, knits her son’s outfits, and has, in general, made extreme changes. I was reading the other day that the vegan movement has been one of the biggest movements for the better of the planet because it has made a positive ecological impact. I know alot of people who have switched to a vegan diet for eco-conscious or animal cruelty reasons. For myself, I have made changes in my lifestyle to compost and recycle as much as possible, use canvas bags when I am grocery shopping, and take the public transit frequently.

2. What negative perceptions can you think of, and do you agree/disagree with them?
I mentioned the fact that we are used to instant gratification, and that can be both a good and bad thing. It is great that we can find quick answers to things, but sometimes that need for instant gratification can take away from real life experiences. For example, instead of looking out the window on my commute I am looking at my phone. So that can take away from the experience of people watching for example, but it’s also good because it’s a chance for me to look at recipes or get information about the news before I go to work. Another example is that when you’re travelling it’s hard to put down your phone when you want to take pictures (i.e. for Instagram). It almost seems more important to capture the moment than actually live through it.

3. What makes this generation different from the last?
Canada is listed as one of the top countries in the world for having the highest percentage of people with university degrees. Alot of us have higher education, but despite it we lack the jobs. We’re also more outspoken about things like mental illness, LGBTQ+ rights, feminism, equal opportunity, and sexual harassment. I really like that. In the past, these things were so taboo and had little to no government and public support. To other generations, being outspoken might make us seem spoiled, demanding, or constantly complaining. But unless you work for change, you won’t have it.

I think in the last few decades younger generations lost touch with nature and are starting to realize its necessity in keeping us healthy and sane. The numbers show that there are less farmers and people interested in agriculture, forestry, conservation – the list goes on. The whole “glamping” (glam-camping) phenomenon proves that a lot of us have lost touch with nature or the desire to get down and dirty with it (pun intended). Some people are starting to realize how important being surrounded by nature is, which is probably why forest bathing has gotten so popular. My partner and I try to bike and hike as much as we can, and are proud owners of a tiny urban garden on our balcony where we grow herbs, tomatoes, and flowers. Fun fact, you can make herbal tea with hibiscus flowers after they’ve finished blooming – it’s great for your blood pressure! I also love using my aloe vera for hair masks and sun burns.

Finally, I think millennials are a less religious generation, though this is based on the individuals I know. I won’t comment more on that other than I think John Lennon had a great message when he wrote “Imagine”.

4. As an Arts Educator, can you speak about millennials and their approach to art?
I think there is still a group of millennials that go to museums just to enjoy art as a cultural experience, but visual arts exhibitions can be a trap for people who just want “trophy” selfies. I was in Paris recently at Musée d’Orsay and an unfriendly stranger pulled my arm get a better photo of the Van Gogh we were looking at. I told him he’d have his turn and I just wanted to look at it a little longer, but he continued to tried to persuade me to move so he could take his picture. That really frustrated me. Is it more important to look at a painting or take a picture of it? It was the same with the Mona Lisa at the Louvre; I was only able to see it through the screens of maybe a hundred cellphones trying to take photos of it.

Art can be a great vehicle for millennial artist to express their concerns and get political messages across. Alot of contemporary museums support young artists looking to do this. In fact, I’ve observed that unless your work has a deeper underlying message, then it’s not really considered appropriate for the more politically-driven galleries and museums. Beautiful still-life paintings and portraits of lovely figures are considered commercial art and often sold as a decorative piece. Many curators want to showcase artists who use art as their medium to be political commentators.

5. Can you talk about your own latest art project?
I recently made a colouring book called “Notable Women: A Colouring Book”. There are alot of colouring books out there because people are looking for creative, meditative ways to de-stress. Whether you are an artist, office worker, or nurse, people are increasingly seeing the value of being creative and using art as therapy. The great thing about a colouring book is that the artist has given you a beautiful black and white image to inspire you, leaving you the creative freedom to colour. It makes you feel like you are contributing to the completion of an artwork even if you can’t draw. At the time the idea came to me, I was searching for a colouring book myself, and most of the subjects I came across for adults were generic animals, mandalas and flowers. I thought, “If I were to make a colouring book for myself, what would I want to get out of it? I want to learn from what I am colouring and be inspired from it.” There are many women who inspire me, and at the time I was really inspired by a few prominent figures in the media, so I thought the subject was perfect. A teacher friend of mine wanted the colouring book for her grade 5-6 class, too, and that’s how it all began! A successful Kickstarter campaign later, I was able to have copies of it made and sent out around the world to the amazing supporters!

6. What are some of the main thoughts on your mind right now?
I’m an overthinker, so some of the many things I am thinking about are whether I’ll ever be able to own a free-hold home with a garden, whether I want to pursue another degree and if I can afford it, where I’ll get to travel to next, how I can be a more supportive daughter, partner and sister, how much longer I can stand Public Transportation commutes, and how I can be a better citizen.

Every other serious thought is also interrupted by how much I want a dog.

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