Skip to main content
In Good Taste, day 3
Sponsor Content
Katrina Olson-Mottahed

CREATIVE HAVENS

Place des Arts


How Katrina Olson-Mottahed’s love of art inspired a unique film festival

Creative Havens is a five-part series where Canadian leaders in design, architecture, film and fashion share what fuels their creative spirit and how they unwind and recharge.

BROUGHT TO
YOU BY

Katrina Olson-Mottahed has always made a bold statement with a dramatic fashion flair and signature poker-straight, white-blonde hair, and now the dedicated promoter of fashion is expressing her artistic sensibilities through film.

Creative Havens is a five-part series where Canadian leaders in design, architecture, film and fashion share what fuels their creative spirit and how they unwind and recharge.

BROUGHT TO
YOU BY

Based in Calgary, Olson-Mottahed, 38, is the founder and director of the Canadian International Fashion Film Festival (CANIFFF), the country’s only film festival of its kind.

“I started it because it was a marriage of two of the artistic media that I love the most: fashion and film,” she says of the Calgary event, which showcases fashion film and documentaries from around the world and culminates in a glamorous awards ceremony.

Since its launch in 2015, CANIFFF has hosted industry giants such as Sara Sozzani Maino, senior editor of Vogue Italia and Niccolo Montanari, founding member of the Berlin Fashion Film Festival. It has also been featured in Vogue, Elle Canada and Forbes, among others.

A commissioned portrait of Olson-Mottahed by New York graffiti artist Soraya Marquez, a.k.a Indie 184.

A commissioned portrait of Olson-Mottahed by New York graffiti artist Soraya Marquez, a.k.a Indie 184.

“Campbell’s Soup Red Spray Can,” by French-born, L.A.- based street artist Theirry Guetta, known as Mr. Brainwash.

“Campbell’s Soup Red Spray Can,” by French-born, L.A.- based street artist Theirry Guetta, known as Mr. Brainwash.

Katrina Olson-Mottahed in winter

I started the festival because it was a marriage of two of the artistic media that I love the most: fashion and film.

KATRINA OLSON-MOTTAHED

A true champion of local arts, Olson-Mottahed sees the festival as a way to promote western talent, noting that designers Spencer Badu and Aleem Arif, now based in Toronto, and Nina Kharey, of luxury line House of Nonie, all got their start in Calgary.

These boots, which Olson-Mottahed bought on Bond St. in London, were her first pair of Chanels.

These boots, which Olson-Mottahed bought on Bond St. in London, were her first pair of Chanels.

The film festival is just a small part of a life-long dream to build up and improve the country’s fashion and art landscape.

“From as far as I can remember, I was interested in fashion and would save my money to put towards brands and designers I coveted,” says Olson-Mottahed, who studied Fine Arts at the University of Calgary. While there, she took courses in film and photography and some fashion as part of art history.

Like her passion for the arts – whether musical, theatrical or visual – she describes her personal style as “maximalist.”

“I love colours, accessories and feminine silhouettes,” she says. “Anything that tapers at the waist.”

In addition to her exquisitely eclectic wardrobe, she also houses an impressive visual arts collection, curated over the last 10 years, which includes pieces by Julian Schnabel, Japanese painter Takashi Murakami, Quebec collage artist Étienne Gélinas, Roy Lichtenstein, Edmonton-born, Brooklyn-based Tim Okamura and – her favourites – a commissioned portrait of her husband and her by local artist Maya Gohill.

Olson-Mottahed's desk, including a Seletti monkey lamp

A Seletti monkey lamp shines a light on Olson-Mottahed's place of sanctuary. "I wanted to make my office look like a jungle," she says.

In addition to her exquisitely eclectic wardrobe, she also houses an impressive visual arts collection, curated over the last 10 years, which includes pieces by Julian Schnabel, Japanese painter Takashi Murakami, Quebec collage artist Étienne Gélinas, Roy Lichtenstein, Edmonton-born, Brooklyn-based Tim Okamura and – one of her favourites – a commissioned portrait of her with her husband by local artist Maya Gohill.

Art lives everywhere in her house – she even named one of the three dogs Botero, after the famous Colombian artist Fernando Botero. It keeps her creative juices flowing and her mind open to new ideas and initiatives. Her inspirational tour de force, she says, is famed art patron and collector Peggy Guggenheim.

Also in this series Toronto-raised architect Omar Gandhi draws on the drama of the coastal landscape from his Halifax office

“When I think about a challenge I think, ‘What would Peggy have done?’ She was a real pioneer and free-thinking woman of her time. I adore her and am so inspired by her legacy.”

Taking a cue from her legendary role model, Olson-Mottahed surrounds herself with beauty and with people who enrich her life. That, and being diligent account for her success.

>A neon sign in Olson-Mottahed's home office is surrounded by a mood board of inspirational women in film, art and fashion.

A neon sign in Olson-Mottahed's home office is surrounded by a mood board of inspirational women in film, art and fashion.

With meditation, I can close my eyes wherever I am. It helps to keep me calm and centered and not get flustered by anything.

KATRINA OLSON-MOTTAHED

“Do what you love and work as hard and as smart as possible,” she advises, “and find anchors that keep you afloat but also people who expand your mind because the more you know the better you can do.”

To that end, she considers her Instagram platform a sanctuary of sorts, a viral space bubbling with like-minded friends who can help her brainstorm and trouble shoot.

“It’s like having a 24-hour support group; there are no barriers,” she says. “And seeing what friends and colleagues are up to makes me want to do more. They’re living their dreams so I think ‘why can’t I do that?’ "

Crystals in bathroom

When she’s not on social media promoting art, fashion and film, she listens to “Meditation Minis” on her Spotify playlist for guided 10-minute sessions which zero in on topics like gratitude or finding meaning in your day.

“I tried to do an hour of meditation each day, but I can’t focus on staying still for an hour,” she says. “This way, I can close my eyes wherever I am. It’s hypnotic. It helps to keep me calm and centered and not get flustered by anything.”

A self-confessed procrastinator, her work has often come together at the eleventh hour, she says, but when she needs to turn off, there is nothing as soothing and re-energizing as a bath surrounded by a few of her stunningly beautiful crystals.

“Some of the best ideas I had started in a chaotic studio,” she says, “but a calm space is a good place to recharge.”

BROUGHT TO YOU BY

A proud sponsor of Creative Havens, Lincoln has long recognized the power of a personal sanctuary. Our vehicles are thoughtfully crafted with beautifully serene interiors, rich amenities and revitalizing comfort. Our ownership services further elevate that experience by keeping Lincoln owners moving effortlessly through the world, leaving them feeling uplifted, not depleted when they drive a Lincoln. Discover more at LincolnCanada.com.

CREDITS: Oversight by KATHERINE SCARROW; Photography by BRODY WHITE; Editing by ELIZABETH HOLLAND; Art direction and design by JEANINE BRITO; Development by KYLE YOUNG

This content was produced by The Globe and Mail's Globe Content Studio.
The Globe's editorial department was not involved in its creation.

Content from the Globe and Mail
To view this site properly, enable cookies in your browser. Read our privacy policy to learn more.
How to enable cookies