Turning Back the Clock

Q&A with past multi-year awards winner Reena Newman

October 14, 2022

Turning Back the Clock

We recently checked in with the multiple-year Applied Arts Awards winner, photographer Reena Newman. Reena won her first Applied Arts Award as a Student in 2004, with back-to-back wins in 2017 - 2019 - her career took off from there. Proof that winning an Applied Arts Award can catapult you into a thriving future in the creative industry! - We felt it was time to get an update on her career and latest projects.


How have Applied Arts Awards helped you grow your career? 

My first Award was for a photograph I made as part of my thesis at OCAD. As a student, having my work chosen gave me the boost of confidence I needed to keep pushing and keep shooting. When I started reaching out to Art Directors, I found that people recognized my name and knew my work. Applied Arts was a really nice way for me to reach a larger audience of creatives without having to cold call every AD in the city. It’s always a thrill to have my work showcased and even more exciting when it turns into more work.

Who is your creative hero?

My kids are my heroes of creativity. They have an endless supply of inspiration and I can’t help but admire the creative resource that is their minds. I’m always blown away by how the littlest things inspire them and turn into grand and magical things. 

How do you stay inspired?

I wish I could be endlessly inspired, but I’m not. The pandemic made my creativity and inspiration come to a pretty hard stop. While inspiration used to be something that came to me without effort, I’m learning that I need to take time to have new experiences and explore. I find that something as simple as trying a new dumpling shop, or ice cream flavour (yes, most of my ideas comes while eating..) can spark inspiration for me. The pandemic strengthened my bond with a group of women who have become my personal cheerleaders. They are the ones who keep me going through the uninspired periods. Their encouragement and irrational faith in my abilities reminds me that inspiration is always around the next corner or in the next slice of pie.

What is the most difficult piece you worked on? What were the challenges?

It’s always tough when you don’t connect creatively with the client on a project. I like to work in a collaborative way and I find it challenging when the client and I don’t have the same vision for the project.

What is the project you are most proud of? What was your creative process? 

‘Batch’ was one of the first cookbooks I shot and I still love it so very much. An Art Director friend and I had talked for years about one day making a cookbook together. I was fortunate enough that she and her partner made that happen for us. They wrote a book and I got to shoot it. Getting to work collaboratively and turn out a real passion project was a dream. That book sits on my shelf and reminds me everyday of what a true collective can accomplish.

So true Reena, may you experience more of these true collectives so we that we can rinse our eyes and wet our appetites! Thank you for participating in our Q&A.