Oh, hey! I'm AJ.
(I call this my brush-stache.)
I have 3 kids, an Australian shepherd, and an anxiety disorder. I do not have "a sweet tooth" because all of my teeth are sweet. I met my husband in high school but it took us over a decade to start dating, and we went back to our high school for our wedding photos because duh, and then when it was time to leave for the reception, I made the whole wedding party wait in a limo for me while I chased strangers around the track behind the school in my wedding dress so I could pet their dog. That's a true story.
Let's talk business.
In college, I had discovered that art was a welcome distraction from my panic disorder and started carrying a sketchbook everywhere I went. As someone who adores animals, pet portraits were a natural first outlet for me, but my portfolio expanded over time and I eventually left my full-time job as a Project Manager for a Toronto-based web development firm to focus on art.
Fly Away Pip started out in 2017 as "AJ Filopoulos Art" (hey, that's me!) and primarily featured custom watercolour portraits and digital portrait illustrations (more on that here.)
In addition to custom portraiture, I also paint modern, minimalist-style portraits of TV and movie casts. I love a good binge-watching session and I think that in a world where we can be so emotionally disconnected from one another, sometimes pop culture unites us. People can bond over favourite shows/movies, and who among us hasn't tried to diffuse a stressful situation by referencing The Simpsons ("Isn't it nice we hate the same things?") or quoted Leslie Knope mid-anxiety attack ("I need you to text me every 30 seconds saying that everything is gonna be okay")?
In early 2019, I started creating illustrated sticker sets and hand-stamped jewelry, and decided that since the business had grown from simply "art" to now include handmade goods, gifts, and home decor items, it was time for a new name... and that's how Fly Away Pip was born.
Uh, what's a "Pip"?
Two little birdies sitting on a treetop
One named Pip, the other named Pop
Fly away Pip! Fly away Pop!
Come back, Pip. Come back, Pop.
I know what you're thinking. That's not how it goes, AJ.
When I was little, my great-grandmother used to recite this to me while switching back and forth between fingers that did and did not have tissue paper stuck to them and I. was. amazed. I thought for sure she was magic.
I spent my whole life calling these little "paper finger birds" Pip and Pop, only to discover IN MY MID-THIRTIES that the rest of the world knows them as Peter and Paul... but they'll always be Pip and Pop to me.