Check This Space: Inside the Distillery apartment of Instagram star and artist Hatecopy

Check This Space: Inside the Distillery apartment of Instagram star and artist Hatecopy
In the first instalment of Check This Space, we chat with artist Hatecopy a.k.a. Maria Qamar about her quiet condo, with high ceilings and an open concept perfect for painting.

Wed., April 18, 2018

Hatecopy , a.k.a., Maria Qamar, is a 27-year-old Canadian artist and Instagram star known for creating pop art inspired by her life as a young, South Asian woman. With about 125,000 Instagram followers, a recent book called Trust No Aunty , an Elle Canada cover and shout-outs from the likes of Mindy Kaling under her belt, Qamar has come a long way from her days as a junior in advertising.

Eager to live on her own away from home, Qamar first moved away from her parents’ Mississauga home when she got into Seneca College’s Markham campus for advertising. After landing a job in Toronto after graduating, Qamar moved to the city and never left.

She moved into this one-bedroom, second-floor apartment in the Distillery District last October. As someone who works from home — and works a lot — Qamar loves the open concept, 645-square-foot live-work space and its high ceilings, perfect for large canvases. She says she pays about $1,900 in rent. As you enter the home, you can see some of Qamar’s earliest paintings lined up against the hallway wall — a temporary storage solution, she says, but a nice way to introduce guests to what she’s all about.

What do you like best about your home?

I love the ceilings. The height is very ideal for me. I love the fact that it’s far away from downtown, that it’s not loud but it’s close enough that I can go wherever I want without time being a huge factor. I like the fact that it’s in the Distillery. I love the Distillery.

What is the worst or most challenging aspect of this space?

I don’t like traditional methods of living. When you walk into somebody’s home, you see a living room, a couch, a TV, an armchair, a nice rug — the standard. That’s cool but it’s not practical for me. So that TV is kind of just taking up wall space that could be used for artwork, an easel, ongoing projects. I would probably get a projector because I have a lot of white walls. That would be more suitable for me than a big clunky television. I don’t even have cable.

Is space a challenge?

In Toronto? Yeah. That’s why I stuck with this place because a lot of the condos in my budget were just tiny, tiny closets.

For a lot of people when they move to a city, like a downtown area, they want glass walls so you can see the city and high floors. Those things are just not practical for me because if I’m moving canvases in and out, I don’t want to be on the 32nd floor. There was a project that I was doing where I had to be plaster-casted for a statue. And at that time I was living in a fishbowl condo and the neighbouring buildings could see me butt-naked and covered in plaster, posing. These are all things I have to take into consideration when I’m looking for a place.

It has to be ventilated. When I’m spraying something, I have to open a window. The air flows really nicely in this place, but before when I lived in a highrise, obviously for safety reasons, the windows don’t open more than a few inches. So once there’s a smell in there, it’s not leaving.

How well does your kitchen function for cooking or baking?

The kitchen is a pretty standard condo kitchen. It’s open-concept, which is nice. It did not come with a kitchen island, which is not so nice. I like to host and I like to feed people. I only make Desi food, I can’t cook anything else. And I always make enough for a family of 10. So it’s a nice space for entertaining and cooking and I love it a lot.

What is your neighbourhood like? What do you love most about it?

The Distillery District is the most family-friendly, wholesome neighbourhood. I’ve basically lived all around Toronto and this location feels nice. It’s like a breath of fresh air. It is still a touristy area but not the kind where you have a thousand selfie sticks and kids running around screaming. It’s not like a Dundas Square or Entertainment District type of situation. You can have a nice Sunday stroll, a hot chocolate, chill out, go to Balzac’s or something. It’s a very chill neighbourhood so you feel like you’re surrounded by family and you’re in a nice, quiet area but you’re still pretty much downtown.

What are some of your favourite places to eat/drink/hang out nearby?

To be honest, I don’t even leave this place so I mostly get Uber Eats. And my go-to is King’s Palace, which, if you don’t know, is where all the authentic biryani is. For drinking, it’s Pacific Junction or Buddies.
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