Creative journey of Elaine Joy Roach

My no-art stage

My creative journey started later in life.  I was discouraged to pursue art while growing up.  I concentrated all my energies into studying.  I ignored the joy from creating and artistic projects.  I was encouraged to study and read in my spare time.  I was a big nerd.

I spent half of my childhood days sitting in a tree in the Philippines.  I spent the other half studying.  My home was blessed with bountiful fruit trees (mangoes, coconuts, jackfruits, pomegranates, pineapples, chicos and star apples).  I was fortunate to have fresh, home-grown, organic fruit from a young age.  I wanted to share my love for nature.  Environmental science was my original career path.

Weeks away from entering my chosen university, I was sidetracked to try a career in finance.  I continued to try different career paths (finance, hospitality, real estate, administrative, etc) for the next three years.  I wanted more than a job or a career.

Origins of my creative journey

In 2003, I returned to university.  I analyzed the course calendar from cover to cover.  Eventually, I decided to take a few part-time courses while working.  I finally allowed my creative interests free reign.  I began with courses in Architecture & Urbanization at the University of Toronto.  As a result, my creative journey exploded.  I developed my artistic skills through art courses at the Art Gallery of Ontario and Harbourfront Centre.  I dabbled in all sorts of media from traditional mediums (drawing, pastels, paints, printmaking) and fabrication (jewelry, glassblowing).  I wanted to be able to fabricate anything that I can conceive.  I decided to pursue Industrial Design at Ontario College of Art and Design.

I rushed together a portfolio for a late application.  I failed to enter OCAD.  A kind professor advised me that I needed more than an “art” portfolio for a design program.  I worked hard and learned about Industrial Design.  I attended portfolio clinics, asked for input from professionals – all the common sense stuff.  I applied again the next year and gained admission.  Months later, I discovered my portfolio’s score won a full scholarship/bursary.  All my hard work was recognized.

Critical lessons from art school

I learned a lot in the first few weeks in OCAD.  I felt insecure among a school full of highly talented creative individuals.  I was jealous of their lifelong dedication to honing their skills.  I remember my first non-constructive critique – funny how tough skins grow after dealing with upset.  I experienced my first disappointment, a project was late and unfinished.  I realized I art could not always be perfect.  I channeled all my insecurities into working hard and focused on learning.  I accepted that I was just a student and had much to learn.  I would take extra courses and participate in many challenges / extra-curricular projects.  My classmates thought I was a crazy overachiever.  I pushed myself to the extreme while working part-time.

Gaining creative confidence

I completed my B.A. of Industrial Design in 2010.  My thesis project, Memories in Touch, was acknowledged in a few publications.  My idea transformed into a communication platform implemented in several nursing homes across Canada with a collaboration with University of Toronto.  I also participated in several exhibitions and won a few competitions.  My prolific portfolio earned me recognition as a talented designer.  A visiting expert described my work as designs for happiness and the idea stuck.  In 2010, I received an offer from the Royal College of Art (RCA) to their Design Products graduate program.  Only one applicant from North America is chosen per year.  I saw myself as a designer for happiness.  I did not attend RCA in order to focus on my family.

Motherhood and creativity

Motherhood overwhelmed me.  I barely had time for myself, much less creating.  I created sparingly for special events and gifts.

I still dabbled in lighting design, graphic design and illustration.  My love of fibre and weaving grew.  Thank you internet for feeding my creative needs.

I first contemplated a paper based Etsy store in 2012.  Back then, I concentrated on paper packaging.  I also operated a semi-successful decal store.  My creative journey didn’t go far.  Renovating a home while pregnant with a young child was stressful to say the least.

Motherhood became my focus again.  I learned many things about myself: infinite love, slowing down, being in the moment, facing my imperfections, finding patience and sacrifice.  I’m still learning how to be the best mom I can be while nurturing myself.

A paper project for my daughter inspired me to work with paper.  I made time to create.  I created new artwork for an application to a creative business incubator program.  I found my artistic voice as a cut paper artist.  I founded Treasured Paper in September 2015.


Learn more about me, building my Treasured Paper business, watch me create paper paintings, browse my paper paintings or visit my stationery shop.