Portrait: Maria Paterakis aka Marziepaints

Maria Paterakis is good vibes personified. As a renowned Toronto cocktail mixologist she's the life of the party (on both sides of the bar), and fascinates us with her energy and unique artistic output through her @marziepaints account. Maria developed a passion for art since winning an art competition at school in Grade 3 and never looked back...

Tell us about your big break!

So, I started painting before I can remember, but the first significant painting that comes to mind is one I did in Grade 3. It was a scene from Peter Pan, I won this art contest and I received my first full set of pencil crayons. You know, the Prismacolour kind with the fancy colour names like Lapis Lazuli and Terra Cotta. It was rad, at the time I didn't know that many colours could exist in one box, and I became a little obsessed with colour from then on. 

What are your favourite mediums to work with?

I really enjoy doing overwhelmingly bright, high-chroma paintings, so I work with a lot of fluorescent spray paint, as well as acrylics, oils, gouache, chalk marker...any intensely pigmented thing I can get my hands on, really. More recently I’ve been working with floetrol and silicone oil in conjunction with bright acrylics to make some abstract trippy paintings.

Tell us about the High Sees collection you have made for Zatacoza? 

I was especially excited about this collab because I knew exactly what direction I wanted to go in. At the beginning of the pandemic, I started researching acrylic pouring as a form of art therapy. The process of pouring different colours together, letting them interact, and pouring them out in a totally unpredictable way is completely fascinating to me. The process of mixing paint is a bit involved, but if you do it just right and layer the colours just right, and pour them out just right, you end up with actual magic on canvas. My hope is that each piece I make transports the viewer into a different psychedelic world, with or without the aid of actual psychedelics.  

Editor's Note: If you do choose to enjoy these under the influence, please trip responsibly. We recommend visiting Erowid to learn how to trip safely.

Who are your favourite artists / influences?

There are so many, but my main influence at Queen’s was a contemporary painter named Fabio Bianco. He did this killer series of chandeliers, and I would just stare at his paintings for hours getting emotional. He’s the reason I started painting very big. More recently I’ve been loving the works of Jessica Matier and Patty Ripley

What sort of work do you do now, is it commission-based or do you do shows?

I make very big bright commission based paintings, smaller colourful illustrations, and shiny acrylic pours on panels, coated with enamel. I cannot decide which thing I like doing best, and will probably continue making all three forms of art as long as my fingers fing. I have done a few live art battles in Toronto, which have been super fun and terrifying. If you haven’t been to one, I highly suggest it when the world opens up again. 

What's on the stereo when you are creating?

I usually have some sort of alternative/ psychedelic rock thing playing. Sometimes if it’s 3am and I am just getting into painting, I’ll play some rap or 90’s hip hop. For this collab though, I  listened to The Psychedelic Mixtape by Richie Racks, and I could not stop dancing. 

How do you get ready to paint, is it structured, or when the feeling hits?

When I’m doing a big piece, I usually try to challenge myself with subject matter I find so compelling and challenging I don’t even know how to go about starting. Then I stare at a big blank canvas anxiously for weeks until I get the courage to start. Usually it will be 1 am after a joint, a shot, and a couple of and self-pep talks, and I may paint straight for days after. My process for acrylic pours is quite different. I started doing acrylic pouring as a form of art therapy. When I do them, I completely zen out and take my time. I don’t even have coffee before - I learned the hard way you need a steady hand and a calm heartbeat for this form of creating. I can spend two hours just mixing colours, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. Either way, whatever I’m doing, I somehow always end up absolutely covered in paint. 

What's your thoughts on Zatacoza?

I love it. I am stoked to be part of it. I have been career bartending since 2011 and haven't had a real opportunity to invest fully in my art until the lockdown. There’s so much creative energy pouring out of people who, like me, have had to pivot careers since the Pandemic, and it really is the most silver of linings. I am thrilled that a platform like this exists to showcase some of that talent, it’s so important to celebrate the beauty that exists in the world after a year like 2020. 

Would you like to shout out some fellow artists?

I am so proud to know so many talented people who have been especially killing it during the pandemic and lockdown(s). Vanessa @vanessafromars, Sanaria @onlyskanks, Raajan @raajanb, Cindy @cindyrosestudio

What's your prediction for 2021 (can be anything)?

Everyone is going to be more grateful for everything and everyone they still have. I know I am. 

How would you like people to contact you?

I have an art Instagram I just started called @marziepaints where you can see all the things. I’m always happy to talk about commissions via DM.