Kitchener artist Trevor Clare recently celebrated the launch of his book The Art of Nostalgia: A Visual Memoir of Kitchener-Waterloo. Clare is a visual artist and spent most of his career as a graphic designer. He has dabbled in art throughout his whole life.  

When he was younger, he played around with acrylic and oil mediums. In the past four years he started getting into digital art using Procreate on his iPad.  

On Nov. 8, THEMUSEUM hosted the book launch party. Over 200 partygoers enjoyed light refreshments with live music while they viewed large prints of the digital art pieces and picked up a signed copy of the hardcover.  

“These were all places that I had good memories of myself. It was over the course of the next few years that I started doing markets, festivals and shows that I promoted on Instagram as well.  So, I was trying to crank out one [piece] a week. And that’s kind of how it took off,” Clare said.   

The Art of Nostalgia is a collection of Clare’s fully coloured paintings. He captures iconic landmarks and the “hidden gems” of the Kitchener-Waterloo region. Some featured locations include the Walper Hotel, L&L Market, The Aud, Forwell Super Variety and more. His striking art style is reminiscent of the past while using the modern medium of digital art.  

Each piece is accompanied by stories of his own life and/or the stories from KW locals.   

“I just naturally gravitated towards the subject[s]. I’m a very nostalgic person myself. I tend to almost romanticize the past, [and] collect what matters from that, or have a lot of history involved. I also look at places that are still going and are still treasured by our city today,” Clare said.   

Looking at one of Clare’s pieces is like looking into a liminal space that exists in the past and the present. From the famous Schneider’s billboard on the side of the highway to the Weston’s Bread neon sign, it evokes feelings of nostalgia because of the comforting familiarity of the landmarks he chooses. But there is also a timelessness to the scenes, as if the viewers are taken to every time the subject has existed in KW’s history.  

“Sometimes being an artist can feel very isolated because it’s very much a personal thing and you spend a lot of time on your own or honing your craft, I guess. So, I tried to offset that or combat that by going out and participating in the community and mostly for me, that’s been going to festivals, so really getting to know the community,” Clare said.  

Clare’s art is skillfully crafted, and while each piece is made digitally, they still emanate the warmth one would expect from a traditionally painted piece. Single brushstrokes can be seen and lend a homey ambiance to each subject.  

“I found that it was an interesting kind of crossover between traditional subject matters and even stylistically, I draw my inspiration from traditional mediums such as the likes of gouache,” he said.  

“I emulate textures and brushwork and stuff like that. So, it’s a contemporary medium, but with more traditional subject matter. It’s this crossover between the two, bridging me,” Clare said.   

The Art of Nostalgia is the perfect marriage of art and technology, similar to how Kitchener-Waterloo is a hub of both creative and technological feats. Flipping through the book is a heartwarming experience because it is filled with the experiences of community members with the featured locations. It is the perfect book for both KW residents and visitors because it bridges the gap of familiarity.   

“I really am drawn to architecture in places so the sense of place and the meaning of place, how powerful that is, and the memories associated with these places,” Clare said.  

The meaning of place is well explored in the book. Each painting is accompanied by a description of the subject, as well as memories, thoughts and observations by community members. Kitchener-Waterloo Region lovers can get a copy of The Art of Nostalgia at  Clare will be doing a book signing sometime in the new year.