Toronto-based French artist Sophie Brussaux spoke to us about her creative side and why it’s so important to give back with her stunning work.

Sophie Brussaux didn’t train to become an artist, but creativity runs deep in her blood. An only child who grew up in France, Brussaux was constantly surrounded by a wide variety of art. “My mother was so artistic. She would always have me trying things in her studio, whether beading pearls or doing clay sculpting, drawing or painting. She felt as if she had to entertain me because I didn’t have siblings, so she had me involved in lots of different artistic avenues,” she says. “I didn’t realize it wasn’t typical for everyone to draw and paint and dance in their time off until I moved to New York in my twenties. In North America, I realized it was very European to be engaged in art so much of the time.”

When she lived in New York, she spent her time bartending and modelling, but she also started painting. “Up until this time, I was mostly doing a lot of drawing. But I must’ve seen something cool or been inspired, because I just decided I wanted to paint.” She went back to Europe for the second half of her twenties and started exhibiting. From showing her work in art-loving clubs to presenting Pope Francis with a painting at Third World Day of the Poor, it was around that time when she got pregnant with her son and her outlook on life and art forever changed. “I wanted to find a way to make the world a little better in my own way. Up until now, I didn’t realize how powerful art could be, and ever since, everything I do has been about art but with a cause. It doesn’t matter how much money you have or your social status. Art puts everyone on equal footing and that’s so important to me.”

Brussaux’s pledge to give back helped Street Haven at the Crossroads, Toronto’s oldest women’s shelter. “I had a painting of Malala and I wanted to give it to a cause that supported women on International Women’s Day to auction it off . My wonderful friend Isabella Baboury, a well-rounded philanthropist, knew someone who stayed at the shelter and said it was a wonderful experience and it helped her get back on track. The painting sold and we gave Street Haven the cheque. All the women who work there are passionate about what they do,” she says, adding she’s currently working on a painting for Formula 1 in Montreal. Her painting will be auctioned off for a mental health charity , the Sainte-Justine Foundation. “I want my art to inspire people but also to help people. I want to make sure there’s a component of giving back in everything I do.”