by Kaelen Bell
Lizzy Burt is busy. After spending the summer playing shows across Canada, the Juniper Bush front person (and solo artist, under the name elizabeth) recently dove head first into an entirely new passion, one that’s consumed her time for the past several months – a framing shop.
Bevvey Teyems Custom Picture Framing is the latest in a long list of creative ventures for Burt, but it’s something else too: a potential source of creatively fulfilling, steady income – something that can be hard to come by for creatives trying to make a living through art.
“It’s just another artistic outlet for me. It’s very meditative, it allows me to practice a certain meticulousness I have within me,” she says. “Even with recording, I’m somewhat of a perfectionist, and that can drive me and other people crazy. But with framing I can just exercise my perfection to myself, and it’s really blissful.”
Even with a new business to run, recording has been on Burt’s mind as of late; the members of Juniper Bush have been navigating their busy schedules in an attempt to record, and eventually release, their debut record. It’ll be the first piece of recorded music released by the band.
“We actually went into the studio last November, and laid down our initial tracks. And then a couple months later, and a couple months later. It’s just been a really slow progression,” she says.
And while the band didn’t necessarily plan on such a long gestation period, Burt says they’re proud of what they’ve done and are anxious to finally release it, though it may take some time still.
“I am so excited about this record. I’m so effing proud of it, and it was really, really well done. But it might be a little while before it’s out,” she says.
Such is the struggle faced by artists working in fields besides their music. Often, the schedule becomes busy as they work to keep their heads above water, and the music needs to take a brief backseat.
However, at the moment Burt doesn’t see her love of music and love of framing as competing forces in her life – sometimes, one just takes momentary precedence over the other.
“I have made a conscious decision that I want them both to be at the forefront of my life, but each one will take the reins at different times,” she says. “Music is another primary source of food for my soul that I absolutely need to indulge myself in, it’s a necessary part of my being. The goal is to take both as far as possible.”
Burt was introduced to framing after a bout of depression. She had quit her restaurant job and was scouring Kijiji for work when she saw a placement for a framing shop in the city.
“I just thought, ‘hmm, that seems like something I could do.’ And I went in for the interview, got the job, and it just snowballed from there,” she says.
The act of framing a piece is perhaps more crucial than many would expect; Burt describes it as an extension of the work itself – a way of outlining that, when done right, can change your perspective on a piece of art.
“There’s something magical about the space created around art [through framing]. It helps enhance communications from the artist’s heart to ours,” she says. “It’s like a support system of colours and shapes and hues.”
Burt says she feels fortunate that she’s found a way to support herself both creatively and financially, exploring her passions for framing and music in a way that feels sustainable and healthy. It’s something not all working artists can claim.
“I think there’s a lot of soul searching that’s really necessary to do when making art and having art support you in life. I feel really lucky that I found another art form that I feel confident I can lean onto,” she says.
Recognizing that her love of music could be soured by an overly ambitious performing schedule, Burt says she needs other artistic avenues to feel fulfilled.
“I guess I’m just a little too cautious when it comes to music, because I know if I overdo it in a way that isn’t suitable for me, I won’t be happy,” she says.
As Bevvey Teyems grows and Juniper Bush set their debut album in motion, it’s unlikely that Burt will be less busy any time soon. However, like many creatives on the journey for self-sufficiency and self-expression, it seems she wouldn’t have it any other way.