Artist: Echo Dayle

Echo Dayle (she/her) is a multidisciplinary illustrator, painter and aspiring tattoo artist based in montreal. Her practice embraces the juxtaposition between elegance and whimsy through eclectic and psychedelic elements and an overall focus on the absurdism of the human experience. 

Since childhood, she has sought to create her own fantasy realm through a variety of visual aesthetics as a means to cope with her ongoing mental health struggles. She often pulls inspiration from nature, vintage imagery, and the occult. Her cute and creepy combinations intend to challenge others to embrace ambiguity. Echo is currently attending Concordia University’s Drawing and Painting program.

Below is an interview with our artist of the month.

Rennie Taylor, Echo and Abby, 2023

Echo:  My name is Echo Dayle, I usually go by Echo Annika online. My pronouns are she/her, and I am a multidisciplinary visual artist.

Abby: Amazing. Great. Well, thank you so much for joining me today. I'm very happy to be talking to you and starting off this series.So I guess we could just jump right into it. Could you tell me something about, you know, your kind of journey as an artist, Were your parents artists or supportive of it? Or how did you know, this is what you wanted to do?

E:  So I mean, I've been making art, like I've been an artist from the day I was born, you know, like my parents actually met at McGill University, which is, in part why I decided to move to Montreal and attend Concordia And so my dad has been a percussionist and a professional freelance musician for pretty much his whole life. And my mom isn't in a professional creative field, but she does interior design and she's such an incredible craftswoman and has such an eye and doesn't give herself enough credit. And that definitely sometimes trickles down.

But, you know, growing up, I was always surrounded by so many different types of culture, art, music, and I remember drawing from such a young age, and I used to just create these stories and, you know, make my own worlds. And I was always so interested in the most colorful, strange, eclectic, films and shows and everything. And I think I started to really realize that drawing was my main interest when I was about 11. And I started really kind of realizing, Wait, I think I have a talent for this. I think I can maybe do this a bit more. Because beforehand, you know, it was mainly musical artistry within the family. And so I was like, oh, maybe I'll be like a pop star or something. Maybe I'll, you know, because I used to play piano actually. I used to, I used to do it. I used to take lessons, and I used to go to recitals and everything. And then I started to just get overwhelmed with it. And so I quit, because I was like, I'm just not enjoying it as much anymore. And then I guess, yeah, shortly after, when I was around 11, I was inspired by the people that I started watching on YouTube. And my early drawings and paintings were kind of inspired by video games a lot. And I kind of just started to run with that. I enrolled in the arts program in my high school. I kept up with that. And the passion just kind of never left. And I just decided all right, I just want to get better, you know. So I just stuck to it.

A:  Well, that's great. I mean, I think there is something about because I also started with music, you know, like I played the flute for seven years. Yeah, so I mean, I feel like there's something about just the creative brain that always kind of sticks with you.

E:   It latches on to something, if there's something in the world that I can use to express whatever's going on inside of me I'm gonna use it. And for me, I dabbled in multiple different you know, I did ballet for a little while. I did the piano. I played saxophone and jazz band in school. You know, and then I just started drawing and painting was like, this, this works.

Echo Dayle, L’oeil du burlesque, ink on mixed media paper, 2021

A:  And I'm curious because you've mentioned you know, you did your art in high school and your parents are also musicians. So maybe, you know, it seems like you had some kind of mentors and other people guiding you. So what do you think is  maybe one of the best pieces of advice or something that you've gotten about making it as an artist or being successful in a creative field?

E:  I think a lot of that would come from my dad, particularly. And I have very unique relationship with my dad, because he is, you know, he's always kind of worked for himself. And so he's had to really develop his self worth as an artist from the ground up on his own struggling through, you know, how it was to make as a musician in the 80s, you know, when he was my age. And whenever I'm feeling uncertain about something, I call my dad, he's gonna tell me something that's gonna stick with me.

So, it's hard to pinpoint one really good piece of advice, but I think that ties into just really never undervalue yourself. And no matter what you create if you put yourself out there, one person is going to like it, and if you keep just kind of hiding it away, then really, nothing's gonna happen. He's always kind of like, you just have to go out and get it. And you have to realize your worth. And particularly, when it comes to even just selling art, it's really, don't be shy. Just speak up for what you know that you're worth. And what you want.

A: Yeah, yeah, for sure. I mean, I think that's, that's something really interesting to me, because I always think about the fact that there's probably so many artists in the world that we will just never know about, because everything they do is just for themselves, and they don't share it with the world. So that's something I think, I also tell a lot of people is to share your work, share it with other people.

E: Which there is value in making art for yourself. Because ultimately, it is like, you know, self expression. But you know, if you, especially if you think you can get something out of it. I think there's so much value in sharing, not even just to get something out of it, but for someone else to be affected by it. Because that one painting, no matter what it is, could have such a significant effect on someone else.

I feel like it creates a kind of... Even if you made the work for yourself, I think the act of of sharing it is very powerful. I feel like people can really see. Especially when, you know, you really work at your practice, and you made something for yourself, people almost see that more and relate to it more because it's so personal, because it's so intimate. You know, they see more within you instead of just the surface level.

Echo Dayle, pacify, acrylic on canvas, 2022.

A:  No, absolutely. Cool. And I guess I'm interested in your process, in the way that you work, because I know, you know, in your work, you're very detailed, meticulous, you kind of crazy spend a lot of time. So I'm wondering what's a typical, like, workday look like for you? how do you kind of

E:  So it's interesting, because growing up, I always painfully compared myself to everybody around me, because it seemed like, everybody could make art, and just anything they do so quickly. And just like, oh, due date, no problem, got it in. And for me, it would always be so daunting, because it was like, Oh my God, I've made a dent on this painting. And everyone else is almost done, you know? So it took a while growing up to realize, okay, I might work slightly slower than a lot of individuals. But whatever I put out is always - I always get such good feedback after. And so it's like, okay, obviously what I'm doing is is good and quality, or I guess good enough for my authorities throughout my life. But I guess it's kind of - some people will be like, oh, yeah, well, I just sit down with it. And then I'm just working for 12 hours, forget to eat, sleep, do whatever. And then I have this painting.

And I guess I don't really work that way. a lot of the things I do, I will, as I say, chip away at it. And especially larger projects, I kind of really enjoy working on something for a little bit and then okay, I need to focus on something else or I need to go about my day and do something else. And then kind of over however much time I've allotted to myself to be able to do this. I feel like there's some value in it, because my brain is gonna make something different on this day than it is the next day. And if I were to spend 12 hours working on a painting one day, you know, it's going to be a completely different painting than if I work on it for five days, just because of where my head's at, and what I want to, you know, my energy the way I do the actual work. So, I'll do a little bit at a time, but then sometimes if I'm really into something, it'll just kind of happen and develop and, you know, so it's, it's very, depending, it depends a lot on, you know, my mood, my environment, the weather. Seriously, you know, if I had a good conversation with someone that day, if I was particularly inspired by something that day, you know, if I saw a weird bird on the street, you know, there's so many components to the creative process, it's ever changing.

A:  And that actually kind of leads really nicely into my next question here, which, which I also want to modify a bit, because I'm really interested in the kind of the places that you go to for inspiration. And because I think what's really interesting is all the artists that I have met, and I've talked to they have such weird and vast knowledge on very specific things that they bring into their practice, you know, it'll be about 18th century anatomical dolls, and you know, also the anatomy of a rabbit, and all these kind of seemingly very disparate things coming to together to create this really interesting creative practice. So I'm, I'm curious what drives your practice? Or what weird things come together to make your work?

E:  Right. I mean, the first thing that always comes to mind is nature 100%, I've always had such a spiritual connection with the earth, and just my surroundings. And I really try to hold on to this aspect of myself that I guess you could call this childlike wonder. And, you know, when it's, particularly when it's warmer, I will just go into forests and just walk for hours and just kind of absorb the present. You know, sometimes I'll intentionally kind of study the way that certain trees twist around, and, you know, the way that specific flowers grow, and I think I'm, I'm extremely interested in fungi, and mushrooms. Just because they're so - I don't even know if some people consider them to be plants. it's kind of two separate things, but particularly mushrooms, and also, like, the psychology and you know, if we want to get into it, the kind of psychedelia of them as well. You know that is a big inspiration.

I think, kind of expanding your mind and then bringing in the things that you see in just everyday life. That kind of create some kind of a stew in my brain. I'm very inspired by lots of historical time periods. It's hard I'm such a history buff, and I'm so interested in, you know, the history of fashion, architecture, particularly in the Victorian era, Rococo, I love that ornamental, the craftsmanship of those time periods. Everything having to do with that. I like to bring that in the kind of mixing it with the contemporary stuff that I see just day to day. It's, it's hard to pinpoint very specific pieces of media - it's a hard thing because my brain is such a mess of different elements. So it's hard to pinpoint what exactly but yeah, in short, a lot connected to history and my spiritual philosophical view of the world.

Echo Dayle, The Shroomy Flash, photoshop/procreate, 2023.

A: And that connection to nature, do you think that's something that's always been kind of a through line in your practice? Or were there it was there a moment as a child where you were like, Oh, my God, this stuff is so cool, I love being outside.

E:  I've, I've never felt safer than when I'm in it. Nature, or if I'm, you know, away from people, you know, I grew up with cats. And the first cat that I ever had was an outdoor cat. And so I always kind of follow her into my backyard and look at her kind of just rolling around in the grass playing with butterflies, you know, my mom had a garden and I always would help her with her gardens and be so fascinated by the way that she would grow our food and tend to the flowers.

And luckily, I was able to travel to a few different places growing up, you know, I went to Jamaica , I could see the clear water and the way that the different birds and lizards interacted, and then compare them to the way that our birds and chipmunks and squirrels run around, you know, that's always been something present. And the first drawings I did were always of animals, you know, and I didn't have a lot of dolls growing up, I had stuffed animals. And, you know, I loved the Rainforest Cafe. So yeah no, it's been a constant in my life, it's been a constant companion to me. And so I feel it's my duty to be like, I see you, I respect you, and you're there for me, and I'm there for you. And I'm putting in to my artwork.

A: I love that. And I love that it's kind of - it almost feels like it's not just a reverence for something, but it's a give and take, it's a back and forth, right? You're getting something, you're getting a sense of peace from being in nature, and then in turn, you make art about it. And that's kind of giving back to it, which I think is really

E: I don't I don't see myself as above it, you know, my whole I guess religious philosophy on life is no creature or plant is more significant in the universe than I am. The way that I'm not more significant than them. Yeah, that's a big, big factor in my brain.

A: And for this last question, I mean, just based off our conversation, though, so far, you can take this as abstractly as you want, I guess. It doesn't have to be super literal. So I guess I'm just wondering, you know, do you have - Is there a mentor or a teacher or someone or I will also say something that has helped you with your decisions and kind of pushed you into the direction that you're taking now. With an interest in - you're talking about, you've mentioned to me before about tattooing is something that you want to go into, and if there's someone that kind of, or something that directed you on that path?

E: Well, it's interesting, because with tattooing, I don't even remember when I got the idea. All of a sudden, the past few years, I'm like, Yeah, that sounds like I could do that. That sounds like something that is, would work for me. Because I always kind of had trouble growing up doing arts, oh, I don't want to sell paintings, what kind of artists I want to be, you know, my dad's a musician, Mom's a visual artist. So we understand each other, but not completely. And so because I'd say out of all people in the world, I'm going back to him, he's the one that I'm - I got to harness my creativity and push for myself and advocate for myself.

But I suppose with tattooing, it's a bit of a ... what's it? Not taboo, but controversial? On the topic of Ink Master, you know, it's not had a lot of great things said about in the last few years, but I remember watching a lot of that. And I guess one artists that really stood out to me was Ryan Ashley Malarkey because she was the first female to win, you know, the prize. And so it kind of, not fully, oh it inspired me because I get to be a woman. And it just, it made me kind of think about the reality that oh there is actually there are actually challenges for me in this world, but at the same time, stepping away from that just seeing all the incredible, you know, women artists, you know, trans artists, artists of color emerging in Montreal and all over the world and on social media has been like, Okay, wait, yeah, there's definitely a place for me to make my niche here. And those aren't going to be factors that hold me back in any way.

But yeah, so it's hard because I do get a lot of drive from so many different random people that I stumbled upon online. And I've always had incredible art teachers growing up that I can't pinpoint one that's like, oh, yeah, this person really made it so that I want to do this, you know. So again, it always comes back to, you know, what I experienced around me and my spiritual practice and everything. And a lot of meditation and writing out the abstract thoughts in my head about, you know, what I, what I'm here for, and what I'm here to do, what I want to do, and knowing that there's literally no limits and all the limits that I have I put upon myself. And, you know, sometimes it's just a matter of putting down the oracle cards. And next thing, you know, you're painting and you're like, yeah, I'm okay with this, this is what I'm doing in my life. And I'm gonna just keep doing it until I can't anymore, you know? 

Echo Dayle, our time in that room was like lilacs on fire, soft pastel, 2023

A: I'm interested, because I feel like a lot of your work is driven by your spiritual practice. I'm wondering if there's a person that - was that something that you grew up with? Was your family very spiritual? Were they into that kind of thing? Or how were you kind of introduced to these ideas?

E: Well, it's interesting, because my grandmother was, she was Christian, I'm pretty sure she was raised Catholic. And so was my mother, but she kind of abandoned it when she was a teenager, because she was a little rebel. But she never really forced everything having to do with organized religion on to me, she kind of just forced, this is not forced, but she introduced me to this idea of, you know, having faith in something higher than yourself being interested in, you know, the idea of prayer. And, you know, I went through a phase growing up, where I very much rejected any notions within organized religion, or the idea of any of that, I was very much like, Yeah, I'm an atheist, I don't really, nothing matters, you know, complete nihilist. And I think, as I have gone through some quite intense things in my life, you know, sometimes these things bring you to a place where it's like, okay, this cannot be it, you know, this can't be, I am not the sole factor in you know, there's a sun, a moon, these stars, these plants that grow no matter what we do to this planet, you know, these vines growing out of the concrete, saying, humans will not keep me down. Those, that's, there's so much power in the world around us.

I came to appreciate a lot of things within Christianity, but I stumbled upon, you know, the concept of Wicca and a lot of, you know, pagan beliefs and religions. And that just resonated with me so much more, because then it wasn't like an emphasis on, you pray to a god, a person who gives you what you need to succeed, it was like, I give myself to the world around me and the world around me supports me, and being able to succeed. Because that's ultimately, the belief or what I was saying earlier, we're all the same, you know, everything is equal. And, you know, another thing, do unto others as you you like, to yourself, you know, and so that drove a lot of compassion for creatures, for myself, for the planet, and then also for my art. And I kind of try to put that into it and embrace anything that's dark, embrace the light and kind of combine it together and realize that there's good and bad in everything. And not even just that, but just realizing that I just I exist, things exist. And it's so beautiful that I was able to take all these things that exists and put them into something that I find beautiful, you know. So, as I continued to kind of harness that energy, I've just kind of made it part of my daily existence.

A:  I love that, I think that's really beautiful.And I guess just on an end note, as there any projects or things working on now that you're excited about or something that we can look forward to seeing from you in the future?

E: Well, on the topic of tattooing, that is something that I am 100% starting this year, still, kind of, in the works of deciding whether or not I'm going to branch out and collaborate with a shop. Or if I'm just going to kind of figure it out, figure it all out by myself, but right right now, that's kind of what's been going on. I've been taking, you know, a lot of inspiration from the stuff that I'm doing, you know, in Concordia's drawing and painting program.

And, you know, using that to, you know, really hone in on my work ethic, the expansion of my ideas, and trying to almost translate what I paint into what I'll end up tattooing. And I'm currently in the process of creating, you know, a really comprehensive portfolio that hopefully, I'll be able to actually start giving people little little stabs soon. But yeah, then working on university work, and maybe starting to post more, you know, because I have a lot of flash sheets that have been in the works that I want to pose so. Yeah, lots of little things are happening. As you know, I have all the time in the world. And things are just gonna happen when they happen, you know,

A: Very exciting

E: Opportunities are floating to us, as always.

A:  Exactly. I can't wait to see what you do next. And thank you so much for talking about your practice being so open and honest and lovely and very appreciated. Thank you.