How I Made It

Lido Pimienta, Musician & Performer

Lido Pimienta is a Colombia-born, Toronto-based musician who won the prestigious Polaris Music Prize in 2017. Here, she tells FLARE how she made it

Lido Pimienta wears colourful poncho top and fuchsia eyeshadow

Lido Pimienta; @LidoPimienta

How do you describe what you do to your parents?

I am an artist who is not starving.

Where did you go to school and what did you study?

I went to a school to become a printmaker, but switched to art criticism and curatorial practice and I ended up being a singer and a painter and textile and ceramics artist.

What was your first paying gig out of school? (In your field, or not.)

I played shows and sold my artwork while in school. Never handed in an essay on time, but I was making my coin, all the way!

What was your BIG break? How did you land it?

Still waiting for it.

What would you say has been your biggest fail, career-wise, to date? How did you bounce back?

The most negative things in my career have come through people in the music industry taking advantage of my enthusiasm, eagerness, talent and youth. But from all of those bad moments I learned a huge lesson, and earned an even bigger appreciation for myself.

Name one piece of career advice you always give.

Do not be afraid to say no. Know your worth and don’t settle for less.

What’s the worst career advice you’ve ever gotten?

“Lose weight, dye your hair blonde and wear tight clothes.” (To broaden my audience.)

When you’re feeling low about your work, what’s the one thing you always do/watch/read/listen to bring yourself back up again?

I go to the Dufferin Mall in Toronto and have a frozen yogurt with my son.

Who are your three favourite social media follows from your industry? What do you love about them?

I’m on tour a lot, so @xpacecc, @colourcodeprint and @cityofcraft are my favourites for keeping up with art, craft and design events in Toronto

How would you describe your industry in terms of representation and inclusivity?

It needs a lot more work. Representation in cultural industries is a reflection of that in the media, power structures, distribution of land and access to health and education. I know that truly diverse representation will only be a reality in music and art once those things are in place in the systems at large.

What’s the most pressing issue facing women in your industry right now? What would fix it?

In my experience, women in my industry feel they are not able to have everything they want. Many want to start a family, but they don’t feel like they can because they cannot tour when they have a family. If we talk about issues facing dark-skinned women, their main issue is that despite their talent and superior material/work, they do not get booked or praised as much as their light-skinned counterparts. Trans women have to fight for their existence, and Indigenous women are usually not even in the conversation. We face way too many obstacles to sum up in a single paragraph.

Have you ever disclosed your salary to a colleague in the name of transparency? Why or why not?

I am really open about fair fees for artists. I even have a talk I’m hired to give called “Get Your Coin,” in which I share tips on how to get paid fairly. My close friends in both music and art industries know they can ask me about money. Talking about money is considered taboo, and that keeps people poor. The more we share about it the more empowered we can become.

Have you ever asked for a raise? If so, how did you phrase it and did you get it? If not, why not?

All the time. I always ask for more when I know whoever is booking me can afford to pay more. I do not have to do this anymore though; I have a team of people to do it for me, which is a real blessing.

  • Click here for more work-life inspo from the awesome people on our #HowIMadeIt List