Preston was born in Maskwacis (Cree for Bear Hills), grew up in Nanaimo, and now lives in Vancouver. Over the past two decades he paid the bills through hair styling, but has since left that industry and started selling art on his personal website. At the start of September, however, his life took a new direction. Preston returned to school to study art at one of Canada’s premiere institutions: Emily Carr University of Art and Design.
“I don’t have a singular style,” he says about his art, “At the moment, I want to explore everything and see where I can push it.”
His creative work began with digital mediums, such as photo illustration and also small digital sculpturing with a 3D printer. Right now, he works from his Vancouver studio apartment making pieces such as a series of Fentanyl Memorial Boxes. Now he wants to go bigger. School will give him the opportunity to make work on a larger scale, but also a chance to further explore his personal identity.
“In my twenties, I was 200 pounds heavier. I had no eyebrows and no beard,” he chuckles. “I know what it’s like to look like a total weirdo and to look somewhat normal. This comes out in my art.”
While he explores his artistic future, he’s also discovering his first-nations past.
“I see myself as an artist who is first-nations. Not a first-nations artist,” he explains. “There’s a difference. If you’re not making art that could be sold in a gift shop, you’re not necessarily considered a first-nations artist. These art forms have to evolve.”
Discovering his first-nations past, he believes, will come through physically connecting with other non-traditional artists who are first-nations, and possibly returning to the reservation where he was born.
In the meantime, his work will continue to feature a universal theme: the human heart.
“I want people to remember to have a heart,” he says. “You don’t know where someone is coming from. So, let’s all have more compassion.”