We had the good fortune of connecting with Laura Hesp and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Laura, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I grew up in Toronto, Canada as the youngest of three siblings. My upbringing was quite unstable and traumatic and I was usually buried in my inner world keeping myself company. My parents worked hard to provide but things were definitely tight and became worse once they divorced. The age gap with my siblings made it hard to connect and I was often isolated, bullied, and neglected instead of protected. This always forced me deeper into myself and made me reluctant to make friends or even leave the house but I have really fond memories of being outdoors around water, nature, and animals and I cherish that.
I was diagnosed with Autism in 2021 and I look back on little me and see that the environment and people I grew up around forced me to be independent, resilient, creative and resourceful. The pain, the joy and the healing I’ve experienced has directly influenced the way my art resonates with others who have faced childhood abuse, domestic violence, and mental illness- especially as a neurospicy human.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Are you really to get deep?! Cause this gets deep!
I think I was born to be an artist and life really got in the way. I know like every creative feels that way but I really feel like I was robbed early. My inner world was extremely vibrant and I was always drawing, painting, creating. I had a hard time connecting to the humans in my life and art was a really authentic expression. When I was pretty young my mom let me go free-for-all and paint whatever I wanted on my walls and I became addicted.
In high school I took art classes and had a really special art teacher who I looked to like a father. My own had neglected me for the bottle and I craved that fatherly figure. I think a lot of men sensed that.
This art teacher really helped me learn how to channel my feelings onto a canvas and I felt safe with him. Until I went to confide in him after school and he also took advantage of a vulnerable moment.
I didn’t pick up a paint brush for the next 10 years. Instead I dropped out of high school and years later pursued a career in childhood development and counselling to work with kids who had been through what I had. I found that working directly with children survivors was actually quite triggering and ended up leaving in my final year. I hadnt done my own work yet.
In 2016 my father passed away after living the end of his life on the streets. I jumped into community work and advocacy and raised tens of thousands for local shelters. I was working as (and burning out as) a mental health coach and a peer of mine ended her life. It completely broke me and I reverted back to that same scared, isolated little kid who couldn’t express themselves. So I picked up the paint again.
I’m now a full time artist. I do abstracts and nudes and my commission work involves creating art from photos of clients with body insecurities, scars, or disfigurements. After healing from Breast Implant Illness in 2018 I deeply value showing women that they’re a work of art exactly as they are.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Without question, I dedicate my success to my partner Zana. Without him I would never have seen my own light, my potential, or my purpose. He was the first person who saw the real me and not only gave me the space to unmask to be her, but constantly evolved right along with me.