Breaking out and following your own path can be hard, but for some, the dream comes true and they get to live their true passion day in and day out.
Rei Misiri is one of those people.
Rei is a Toronto-based interdisciplinary artist who migrated from Tirana, Albania. Through his earlier years as an immigrant, Misiri found urban art and dance as an outlet to embrace his identity; later representing Canada in some of the world’s biggest street dance competitions. He now combines visual art, dance, and film to bridge the gap between street culture and high art.
Misiri’s dynamic clash of traditional calligraphy and contemporary street art, have been featured with organizations and galleries including Art Gallery Of Ontario, Sony Centre For The Performing Arts, Toronto Raptors, Red Bull and Mercedes Benz, and most recently was featured as the winner in the Bombay Artisan Series.
Since we were there to take it all in the night he won in Toronto, we thought we’d ask the man of the hour a few questions to learn a little bit more about this week’s Dream Job Diary entry Rei Misiri.
What was your first job ever?
My first job ever was selling windows and doors as a telemarketer. I had no sales skills at the time as a teen, so it didn’t last long.
What is your official title? Do you have one?
My official title is Artist and creative director of Rei Misiri Art Inc. We specialize in fine art, murals, live entertainment and experiential marketing for special events.
How did you get into your current line of work? Did you go to school/get training for your dream job?
How I got into my current work was completely intuitive. While I was in university for art and design, I was also competing nationally and internationally as a street dancer. I also shared the stage with artists like Kanye West Pitbull, K-OS etc. Nothing about my future made sense at the time until one day all of my skill sets basically melted into one pot. I took the delicate discipline of calligraphy and combined it with the thrill, rhythm and energy of street dance. This niche allowed me to bridge the gap between fine art and commercial entertainment. Not many artists find it easy to mesh both worlds, but my dance performance experience made the transition smooth.
What achievement are you most proud of?
Beneath the veil of any career highlights, my most valued achievement is the genuine relationships I have created with many significant people. As an immigrant, I had to earn my friendships through passion and reverence for my craft. Being in one of Canada’s most respected street dance groups is a big part of my momentum. I am greatly inspired by the authentic entrepreneurs, DJs, dancers, event organizers and musicians who I share the table with. The worldwide support we receive from various communities is greatly inspiring and motivating. This pure environment is crucial to my creative process.
What does winning Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series mean to you?
Last year around the same time, I was in a tough position because of a business choice I made. I changed my attitude, and I believe this is one of the outcomes from it. Most importantly it is a dedication to my family who fearfully supported my choice of pursuing art as a career. Winning the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series is a big leap that puts me in the same platform as some of the world’s greatest contemporary artists. Lastly, I see it as a win for my supporters. My inspirations and friends are often subjects in my pieces. At Art Basel, our stories will be heard on a global scale.
Tell us a little about your winning entry!
At the time the call was out, I was taking an entrepreneurship intensive from BizStart — an amazing business incubator. My motivation was at an all-time high to get my work out there. When I saw the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series application, I knew it was a perfect opportunity. I was thrilled that they chose my favourite piece which is a tribute to my dance mentor. If it wasn’t for him, I wouldn’t have pursued my talent as a career. My main focus was to connect with new artists and creatives on this new platform. When I won, it was a big surprise and I had to ask the host to repeat my name in order to believe it. My friends and I had a wild celebration.
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
If I wasn’t making art I would be pursuing psychology or another form of therapy. I enjoy helping people maximize their life to see their full potential. As dance saved my life when I was struggling with depression at a young age, I have a level of empathy for people who constantly seek to improve their lifestyle.
For more info on Bombay Sapphire and the Artisan Series please visit their website.
This is a sponsored post in collaboration with Bombay Sapphire and ADDICTED Media Inc.