Alison Reid was born in Montreal, but grew up in and around Toronto. She started reading, drawing and making things at a very early age, and never really stopped. An early achievement was spearheading the creation of a concrete dragon sculpture in the high school courtyard. She also had a paying gig drawing editorial cartoons for the Aurora Banner on a weekly basis. This is where she first learned to respect deadlines, despite the hazards of working in a student recreational area, complete with the very real hazard of ball hockey players nearby.
Alison attended the Ontario College of Art to study industrial design. During her college career, like many students, she experienced departmental sexism, a breakup, coming out, depression, and poverty. Like fewer students, she accidentally set her apron on fire with a cutting torch. Miraculously surviving all these things and more, she has managed to combine a sense of humour with a really bad attitude when it comes to institutional BS, and loves making things happen despite it. She has learned to respect cutting torches.
After her college days, she also earned a certificate in Web and Graphic Design for Business at Toronto Image Works. She has been engaged in creating on a computer ever since.
Highlights of her subsequent career include:
- Certification in conservation framing
- NOT being the one who spilled coffee on Lord Thomson’s Krieghoff
- Curating art shows for Akau Art and Framing, and organizing a couple for A Space, including a pop-up gallery at College Park
- An extended period as office manager at the Japanese Paper Place
More recently, Alison has returned to focus on creative art and material design. She’s created paper lanterns, needle felted items, masks, fibre and wool figures and jewellery, leather items, and is pursuing new interests in carving bone, wood and stone. Her website madgleam.com is a free resource for lantern makers and fans. She continues to draw and do graphic design, and handles website design and maintenance for herself and others.
Alison’s volunteer projects have included teaching crafts to children and adults at the Ralph Thornton Community Centre, and leading workshops in lantern making for the Rivertowne community's inaugural celebration for Joel Weeks Park. She also designs program materials and cover illustrations for An Unholy Harvest – a legendary annual event. Those folks really know how to throw a party.
Nowadays, she is also teaching workshops for children and adults once again, including Monster School (currently only offered for children).
Fun Alison Facts
As a travelling youth, Alison lived in a cave in Matala, Crete, in a colony of dozens of other young travellers, for about a week, until a local cop threw everyone out. It was her first experience of collective action when everyone had a meeting and decided to hang out on the beach for the day, drinking wine and getting sunburned, until the cop went home to his own village. Then they moved right back into the caves. Damn hippies.
Alison had a brief career in the 80’s as a volunteer radio announcer at U of T radio station CIUT. As a skill-building experience, Alison learned to write under extreme pressure, be creative under pressure, and improved her dexterity with tape and razor blades. Under pressure, of course.
Alison also took part in The Greatest International Scavenger Hunt The World Has Ever Seen, affectionately known as GISHWHES. Alison’s team, helmed by CJ DeAngelus of Los Angeles, won in 2012, in a field of over 14,000 participants. The team was assembled from participants located in the US, Canada, England, and Thailand. Team Badwolf was flown to Scotland with actor and GISHWHES founder Misha Collins and crew for an all-expenses-paid weekend of haunted castles, abbeys, graveyard and whisky tours, and a formal dinner, in costume, complete with a piper in full regalia piping in - yes! A haggis. Alison has the Guinness World Book of Records certificate and Youtube videos to prove it. Items added to her skill set as a result included accomplishing challenging tasks that required creativity, audacity and courage, once again under pressure, co-ordinated across multiple time zones with an international team of creative maniacs.
Alison has enjoyed playing drums of various kinds, learning to play in Samba Squad, a Brazilian-style bateria led by Rick Shadrach Lazar, and performing at the Beaches Jazz Festival, the Kensington Market Festival Of Lights, and other places. She also took up snare drumming with the Church Street Pipe Band, where they had the honour of leading the Toronto Pride Parade. She's learning to play a drumkit at home now. An electronic one, since she tries to be considerate of the neighbours. Her goal is to learn how to play some good funky grooves. Alison is not afraid to make a lot of noise in public. She continues to secretly believe that everyone loves the Ramones.