Entries Tagged as 'Interview'

Interview: Lane Delmonico Gibson

Dec 23, 2013

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Last week, we met up with local artist and ceramicist Lane Delmonico Gibson at Make Coffee, where she’s currently exhibiting some of her pottery work alongside good friend Chloé Carpenter. About 5 years ago, Lane and Chloé completed an apprenticeship together under the direction of French potter Agnès Chapelet in the village of La Borne, France. Their exhibit at Make follows this journey of study. Rather than feature all finished works, this exhibition displays handmade tools the girls made while apprenticing, as well as a series of pots, vessels and other pieces the girls made while developing their skills. The result is an exhibition that explores and celebrates the design process…the steps that make up this art form.

 

Having always been drawn to pottery, and the idea of studying abroad, we were excited to sit down with Lane and learn more about her time in France, and the experiences and lessons she returned to Winnipeg with. Lane is currently finishing her degree in Education and works at Make Coffee part-time. When she arrived for the interview, she quickly slipped behind the counter to make herself a drink (and later refilled mine), even though it was her night off. This simple act set the tone for the entire night. Lane was calm, open and honest, and so humble. We sat cupping hot drinks in our hands – mugs Lane and Chloé had made themselves in France – and chatted for close to two hours. Nothing was rushed.

 

It was as if our conversation transported us to France and we were enjoying the slower, more intentional lifestyle Europe is known for. And, we hope reading this interview gives you a similar feeling of calm and escape.

 

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Artist Lane Delmonico Gibson in front of journal pages from her pottery apprenticeship in France.

 

EQ3  How did you get your start in pottery?

 

LANE DELMONICO GIBSON  Sometimes I say that it happened randomly. In French randomly is par hasard, which means by hazard. Hazard (in English) alludes to something that may be dangerous, but in French it just means by chance. It was a pretty far guess when I went into pottery. I was 17 and my friend just suggested…yeah, really it was just a suggestion. I had always been into art as a kid and whenever people asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up, I would always say an artist, but I didn’t really know in what way. I hadn’t really experimented with clay all that much as a kid. I do remember when I was in Grade 4, my teacher selected me to do Through the Eyes of a Child, a program that was offered through the WAG (Winnipeg Art Gallery). It was a weekend art class. I remember every time I would make something and bring it home, my dad would put it on the mantel piece and I just was really, really proud of this…well out of clay I made this coil pot, a very ugly thing with a cat on the lid. And, I was really proud of it.

 

So I remember that and then fast forward to Grade 12, I remember my really good friend Chloé came to me  one day. She’s half French, and so she would go home to France every summer to see her grandparents in France. And, then she came back one summer and said “Lane you have to go to France with me. I discovered this tiny little village in France called La Borne, and I want to do a pottery apprenticeship there.” And, at that point, my mind was, I guess, more in line with the way my parents had sort of programmed me to think…that I needed to go to university right away after high school. So I was really nervous about telling my parents about this program. They’re both academics. But Chloé described this amazing sounding apprenticeship and I couldn’t pass that up. And, so I remember having breakfast one day at Falafel Place and being ready to tell my dad. I had it all planned out – How am I going to break it to him that I want to move to France? I was only 17. And…the conversation lasted about 0.2 seconds because I just said, “So I want to move to France.” and he said “Don’t you think you’ll never go back to school? If you take one year off you’ll never go back to school.” Because he knew this program that I had just described to him wasn’t affiliated with a university at all. It was just this woman who claims she is a potter and she’s going to teach us everything she knows. And then I said “No, I’ll go to school.” And then he said “Sure. Okay. Fine.” And he didn’t ask me any other questions, and at that point I was like “Yeah, this really is up to me.” I was really glad that he gave me that freedom.

 

 

EQ3  So was that the summer right after Grade 12, or when did you take the apprenticeship?

 

LDG  Yeah, the summer after Grade 12 I was gearing up to leave. I moved there in September and I met my friend Chloé in France, and then the course started in September – end of September – and it was a 6 month program. Before the course started, we took a visit to the village and checked it all out, met our teacher Agnès. And then it was finished in April, for a total of 892 hours, to be exact, of apprenticeship.

 

 

EQ3  Wow! So what did a typical day look like then? When did it start? When did it end? What did you do?

 

LDG  It was a very detailed, organized course…more so than I expected. We started every day at 9 o’clock. Chloé and I were living together in a tiny little stone house without any heating, it was just heated with a wood stove, like a wood fireplace. We were given a deux chevaux car. It’s actually like an antique car and this one was her grandfather’s, who had passed away. Her grandmother still had this car and she gave it to us to use for the year. It was a very noticeable car. She and I would get up in the morning and drive the few kilometers to our teacher’s studio and we’d stop at the bakery on the way and grab some hot bread, and usually half the loaf would be gone by the time we got to the workshop.

 

First we would light a fire to warm up the studio, and then we’d start kneading the clay. And that was a full body workout. I remember after the very first day, I looked at Chloé and said “I can’t physically do this. I don’t know what you were thinking when you suggested I come with you, because I’m not strong enough.” Just kneading the really hard, cold clay was such an upper body workout. But you get used to it. Over time, you don’t notice it anymore.

 

The morning was always more directed learning – learning the rudiments of turning on the wheel. So that was 3 hours of every morning. Our teacher would throw a pot. We started with a cereal bowl, and so she threw that and she would take the measurements – very specific measurements of the base of the bowl, and then the lip, and the width of the opening. And, she’d leave one pot for each of us. She would turn it on our own workstation because there were just two students…it was just the two of us. So she would do one for each of us. We would watch her turn a pot, and then we would do our own. We’d do about a dozen. We’d try to, as best we could, copy. And then the morning would finish with an analysis. So we would take a cross-section. Using an iron wire, we would slice the pots in half. We would take the wire and pull it underneath the pot half way and then bring it up and that would just slice the pot right in half, and we would analyze the cross-section of the clay. And, that way were able to see if our bottoms were too heavy, if they were too thick, if the walls were thinning out in one area, and we’d take measurements of the base, and the lip and the circumference, and note that in our journals. So just behind you there (Lane points to a cluster of papers hanging on a nearby wall in the coffee shop), those are some of the notes we wrote down – the weight, and then all the measurements. And, then we’d eat lunch together.

 

And, then the afternoon was entirely different. We were still in the workshop, but it was more open-ended creative work. So we might have done some drawings, we might have done work on a wheel…just more whimsical stuff. Things like if we were wanting to work on a project of our own, or if we had an idea – something we saw maybe at an exhibit in another city and we wanted to try that out – then that was our time to work on more self-directed pottery.

 

 

EQ3  And, so when did your day wrap up?

 

LDG  It wrapped up at 5 o’clock.

 

 

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EQ3  So did every day look just like that? Monday to Friday?

 

LDG  Mmm hmm. Monday to Friday. And, we would finish the month with a firing. So every month it was all very exciting because firing is a very emotional process. When you’ve created all these pots – maybe at the end of every day, you might keep one of the pots that you’ve turned on the wheel, if you were so lucky…if our teacher deemed it, you know, worthy of keeping. So we would have maybe a dozen pots at the end of a month and the last three days of the second last week we would designate to making all of our glazes by hand. So following recipes…sometimes recipes that even our teacher had never tried. We were just experimenting with different chemicals and different elements, and so we would add our glaze and then fire for the last week. We would either do an electric firing, or a gas firing or a raku, or a wood firing. Wood firings were a really lengthy process, so those only happened usually twice a year for potters. So we were lucky enough to assist with two wood firings throughout our year.

 

Then the last day or every month we would unload the kiln. We would always do an electric firing, so there was always something exciting. So we would unload the kiln, and it was like Christmas morning, where you’re opening up a present. You’d open up the kiln and just pull out all your pots. You had no idea what a certain combination of glaze would produce. So if you ended up getting a pot that was really, really green, you would know it was because of all the chrome that you added to it. Or magnesium would give maybe a more purpley effect. Or cobalt is always associated with blue glaze.

 

And so that part of it was really interesting – the chemistry behind it – but if you asked me to describe it in detail…I have it all in French in my head. Our teacher was pretty strict about us learning the vocab, and the chemistry, and just taking notes during the whole process. And just sort of cataloguing the process of building the kiln, and keeping all of our recipes for every single glaze. So a lot of the work that we did was actually academic and written work, although she was someone who never finished high school. But she had created this course that was extremely legitimate, although she wasn’t able to offer a certificate at the end of it. But it didn’t matter because she was just doing her thing.

 

 

EQ3  What experience did you – or Chloé – go into this experience with?

 

LDG  Very little. Chloé had played with clay a few times. She might have taken a short course throughout high school, and I had never turned on a wheel before my first day. I was nervous about that because I was under the impression that Agnès only took apprentices that knew what they were doing, but she takes people at any level. We were at beginner level and that was perfectly fine. She adapts her course based on where you’re at, and where you’re interests are.

 

 

EQ3  That’s amazing. So how did that unfold? How did you get into the course to begin with, if she only takes two students at a time?

 

LDG  Well, like I said, Chloé went to France the summer before we left. Her maternal Grandparents took her to this pottery village because Chloé’s mom passed away when she was nine, and her mom was a potter. Her mom had left Chloé a lot of her tools and a lot of her own pottery and tons of her ceramics books, and Chloé thought, if I want to get to know my mom more, then I need to go through those steps too, physically. So she went into it with the intention of seeing what her mom went through and trying to get to know her mom more. And, so she came back to Winnipeg after that summer, told me about it, and I couldn’t pass up the opportunity. I was in French immersion, so moving to France was a great opportunity for me to practice my oral skills in French. That’s something that they don’t emphasize enough, I find in French immersion, so being completely immersed in that was definitely a draw. And then, having always loved art throughout high school and elementary, I decided “Okay I’ll do this…what needs to happen.” So we both wrote a hand-written letter of intent and sent it in – snail mail – and then, got a response back from Agnès…and I suppose her response was good…and then, yeah “like Bob’s your uncle”…. (she laughs). I don’t remember, it just all came together and before I knew it I was flying to France.

 

 

EQ3  Just the way you described your home and your drive and the bakery shop…it sounds like something out of a movie. Was it really as idyllic as it sounds?

 

LDG  I remember riding my English bicycle around the village and thinking “I’m in France!” I just looked over at my friend all wistful…like ”I can’t believe this is actually happening.” But for me, I’d be lying if I said it was all hearts and rainbows because it was definitely very difficult to leave and to be fully immersed in a village where no one spoke English. I’m really thankful for the strong foundation in French that I had, but even then, it took a long time for me to throw myself out there and really go off on my own. But the village people were really, really welcoming…and entertaining.

 

It’s hard to put into words – but it was such a routine, I guess. Like I described…getting up in the morning…one of us, actually, would have get up really early in the morning, like 2 o’clock, and put more wood on the fire. So we’d take turns doing that. We would put ourselves to bed – we pushed our beds together – and we had a few pairs of socks on, we wore socks on our hands, we wore toques, we were in sleeping bags, we had like ten sweaters on each. We had our families from Canada send us warmer clothes because we were so cold. It was colder there than it was in Winnipeg. Or, it felt colder because it was humid and just more chilled to the bone. And, the houses in France are less equipped. So that part of it was an eye opener.

 

 

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EQ3  Do you have a favourite part in the process when you’re working on a piece – one that resonates with you more?

 

LDG  You know, I think probably the stage of conception, when you’re thinking about what to do next or how to start a project. I love drawing inspiration from other artists…now. I think at first I felt a lot of pressure to be original. So sometimes I was stumped when I had to start a new project because I thought “Well, I don’t want to do this because I don’t want to look like I’m copying someone else.” But I got over that, and that’s the most exciting part now for me…researching and kind of exploring what else is out there. Because, you know let’s face it, there’s so much out there and so many creative people – even just in Winnipeg – and so, if you sit there worrying about being original, you won’t get anywhere because chances are whatever you end up creating is like something else, and been done before.

 

So what I found most exciting was going to different galleries, and part of the course actually incorporated trips up to Paris for different exhibits. So our teacher would drive us up there on weekends, on her own time, and show us either an open house for her own work or for another artist’s work. And it wasn’t always pottery, but yeah, just showing us what else was out there. So we went to the African Art Museum in Paris and then we went back the following week and studied that and tried to make really round vessels that were inspired by the round shape of the human body, or like a maternal figure. Or, we’d go to the oriental museum of ceramics in Paris and then come back and study maybe like a Japanese technique. So learning from other artists and then trying to emulate what they’ve done…and borrowing too. I remember seeing a painting by Giuseppe Arcimboldo…he makes these paintings out of fruits and vegetables, like portraits. So I wanted to do something with that, but I didn’t want to use paint. I remember in another museum seeing a mobile and thinking how cool it would be to make a mobile. So I ended up taking fruit and slicing the fruit, and then hanging it with fishing line and making a mobile face out of fruit; and, I ended up creating something unique, but in the process I did feel like I was stealing from other people. But, I think that’s okay.

 

 

EQ3  What other (art) mediums were you dabbling in…or do you dabble in?

 

LDG  That year in France was primarily clay, different kinds of clay – we used Australian stoneware, terra cotta stoneware, and porcelain. But, actually the following year I went back to France and did a little bit more pottery, just for fun, visited the village again, and saw my teacher. And the year after that I ended up moving to France, again, but this time it was to study French. I was studying at the University of Bordeaux. But even though I went there to take Psycholinguistics and French Literature, I ended up being in (courses) like Photography and Print Making. And, so that was absolutely amazing.

 

I absolutely loved print making, and that’s something I would like to pursue more here. I find that, actually, it’s similar to pottery in the sense that the unveiling of the final product is emotional, just like unloading a kiln. When you’re piece comes out of the printing press, you’re never really certain. It’s so uncalculated, I guess. It’s that aspect that I’m really drawn to.

 

 

EQ3  And, currently you’re working towards becoming a teacher – is that right? Do you have plans to integrate art into that?

 

LDG  Definitely. I think the game plan is to teach art and to always have art in my life. I don’t think I could live without it. But, whether that’s being an art teacher in schools, or teaching art privately, or just working as an artist, freelancing…who knows where I’ll end up.

 

Towards the end of our year in France, Chloé and I were both preparing our portfolios for Fine Arts. She ended up following through with that and I took the French route and pursued that. And now, she’s got a Fine Arts Degree, I’ve got a French Degree, and now we’re both meeting again in Education with the same goal of eventually teaching art.

 

 

EQ3 Any thoughts on Agnès (your teacher)? What was she like?

 

LDG  She was extremely vulgar. I learned most of my French from her, which was a very interesting experiencing because I would learn from her, thinking this is how most people spoke, and then I’d go up to Paris and stay with other friends or family and friends of Chloé’s and throw out these country expressions…so it was an interesting learning experience.

 

But as vulgar, and as whimsical, and as happy-go-lucky as she was, she was still very focused and very organized, which I really admire. And, I was talking before about copying and stealing ideas from other artists to then create your own work, but in terms of teaching that’s another area where you can totally steal ideas. And in my teaching now, I often think about the way that she taught us because the whole course was a riot. We were laughing non-stop all day long, but yet we produced and we learned. I think it’s a really, really hard thing to accomplish. It’s just so admirable the way that she ran her course. Despite seeming like she was flying by the seat of her pants, she wasn’t unconcerned with the future. We had a schedule that was pretty regimented and we followed the schedule very closely. I think she is definitely the person I look up to most, in terms of teachers.

 

 

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EQ3  Of the pieces you’ve designed, do you have a favourite? A specific piece? Or maybe a type of product that you enjoy making most?

 

LDG  Yeah, well the piece at the very end (Lane points to a big, round vessel), that one, well it is the biggest and it took the longest, but that one is really interesting to me because the base was turned on a wheel and then the rest of it was hand built. And so, I really liked that process…building something…like a really thick, sturdy base and then building up by hand and being able to manipulate the clay in a way that you can’t on a wheel. So the way we started with that, it was our final project.

 

Unfortunately, Chloe’s had an air bubble in it and exploded in the kiln, which is just one of the things you have to live with. Yeah, “it’s the life of a pot,” as my teacher said. But, anyway, we started off with charcoal, just drawing different forms. And so that piece came from one of my sketches and so I guess I’m really attached to that piece.

 

But another one that was really fun was the eggs (she points to a group of eggs with a crackled design). We made those on a wheel, and they’re actually hollow on the inside. It’s quite an involved process, too, which is why I like them so much…just the steps to it are all very different. First you turn it on the wheel, and it gets fired in a naked raku. It gets fired at a really high temperature and the temperature rises really, really quickly. You shock the pots by removing them from the kiln immediately, rather then letting the kiln cool down. And so from there they get put into a big pail of wood shavings and that catches fire. And then from there, the pots are thrown into a pail of cold water and that shocks it further…and that creates the crackled effect. And from there, the glaze is still caked on to the outside of it, so you actually have to scrape it off, like a turtle shell, and then underneath is what you see there – the final product. So it’s quite an involved process for such a little vessel.

 

 

EQ3  You mentioned about the “life of a pot,” or ”la vie du pot” – can you elaborate on that? Where does that term come from? What’s its meaning?

 

LDG  Yeah, well I’m glad we decided to put that term into the exhibit, even though it might not make a lot of sense to the random person who sees it. But it means a lot of to me.

 

I guess the “life of a pot” means you never really know what’s going to happen to it. There’s all these steps involved with pottery, and that’s kind of what we tried to show in the exhibit. When I was first discussing it with Jae (Make Coffee’s owner), he was really intrigued by the tools and the process of pottery. People are most familiar with the final product, and that’s often what’s showcased in pottery exhibits. And so, we really wanted to emphasize the life of a pot – where it starts. We made all of our tools by hand, initially, as the course started. That was one of our first projects, and then making our own stamps as a signature. So just going through the stages of it being a wet ball of clay, to thrown on a wheel, to….shaving off the base of a pot. And, then from there it was the drying process, and that’s an art in itself…the waiting, playing with different plastic covers…and then there’s the glazing and loading the kiln.

 

 

EQ3 Do you remember the feeling or what was going through your mind the first contact you had with clay (pottery)?

 

LDG  I was shaky. I remember…I was in pain because my hands were rubbing against the steel wheel and it just tore up my skin. That didn’t go away for 6 months, no matter how much I would bandage it up. But we would just start again the next day and it would tear up again. And, the clay stains too. We were mostly working with stoneware, which is like a dark grey, and so that stains your entire forearm. So yeah, my first contact was definitely pain, and just feeling incompetent, but it’s a really cool sensation. I remember seeing people working on a potter’s wheel in movies and thinking “that’s so appealing…”

 

 

EQ3  That’s how we’ve always felt watching it.

 

LDG  And, it is very much like that. I think it’s the contact with the clay that gives me the most pleasure, and being able to manipulate it directly with your own hands. But what I learned very quicky is that if you’re hesitant and if your nervous, or if your stressed, it’s reflectant in your work. Our teacher, if our pots were falling over or just constantly weren’t turning into anything, she’d say “stop…eat a little piece of sausage” or dark chocolate and maybe do some tai chi and calm down because if your breath was really shaky, then your pot was definitely going to be shaky too. So just focusing on stability of your hands is really, really important, and I think that’s one of the biggest things that I took away.

 

 

EQ3  How is it now that you’ve been doing it for a few years?

 

LDG  Well it was 5 years ago, and like I said, I went back the following year and then I actually moved back to France 2 years after that, again. But ever since I’ve been back in Winnipeg…I’ve kind of put pottery on a bit of a hiatus. It wasn’t actually until I got the job here that I experienced this revival in my passion for pottery. I guess it was having conversations with people, other employees here, or customers coming in that are interested in design and art and really value the stories that I had to share. I remember when I first got the job, going home and telling my roommate that “I’m so stoked to be working here because I’m reliving all of my experiences in France…because people are encouraging it. They’re asking me questions.”

 

I guess one thing that I really didn’t expect was, first off, I was feeling really, really attached to my pottery, and being ecstatic that I could display it and share the story with everybody, but then feeling a shift in my mindset when all of a sudden I decided that I was going to sell it. I thought “I really want to hold onto this experience. I don’t want to lose the journey that I had in France. I want to hold onto these memories because that’s who I am.” But all of a sudden it kind of dawned on me that I went to France for the experience and for the skills, and I’ll never lose those skills. And the pottery…the fact that I was able to bring 300 kilos of pottery back with me was the icing on the cake, and this exhibit was furthermore the cherry on top. And so, I guess I’ve realized that selling your artwork, as hard as it is, is a really important step for all artists…to let go and to part with it. And parting with it, for me, is motivational, and now I feel an accountability to pursue pottery further and to get back into it.

 

Having it on display is one way of letting others in on the experience and sharing my experience with them, but it’s even more to let them take it home with them and use it. So it’s been really awesome to see people use the bowls to drink out of and have that contact with something that I spent so much time thinking about first and then making.

 

 

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EQ3  To wrap up, is there anything you’d like to add? Anything you feel would be important for people to know?

 

LDG  I would love to be able to tell anyone who’s interested in art, any kind of art, not just pottery, to just go for it. I guess I was hesitant at first and really doubted myself, even when I first got started, but you need to persevere and not be afraid of challenges…and, not be afraid to steal ideas from other people (she laughs)!

 

 

Thanks Lane for sharing your art with us and your stories!

Follow Lane on Instagram @potterybylane and on Tumblr at lanegibson.tumblr.com to see more of her work.

Interview: Alyssa Yuhas from welikewelove

Dec 10, 2013

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Winnipeg was hit with a major cold snap last week, and nothing warms us up more than Canada’s talented design scene. So last Friday, we spent the morning sipping coffee and chatting with Alyssa Yuhas over the phone about her design work and creative endeavors.

 

We first discovered Alyssa’s work through i like nice things, the personal blog she created shortly out of college. The discovery was purely accidental. We can’t even remember how it happened, but we were so inspired by the blog’s European feel and Alyssa’s zest for the good things in life – design, travel, music and fashion – that kept checking back to see more of her work. Our designer loyalty was secured when we learned she was Canadian! A definite bonus. Alyssa was working at a boutique design studio in Calgary at the time, and on the side, designing and publishing her own magazine welikewelove. Like her blog, the magazine has this Euro design feel that’s quirky and beautiful and completely amazing. Her blog and magazine were both very successful, landing her a speaking engagement at the Alt Summit blog conference in 2012. She returned home from the conference with a big announcement: she was strutting out on her own and going freelance full-time. This wasn’t surprising to us readers, who knew Alyssa was far too talented not to carve out her own niche in the design world.

 

While her blog and magazine are enjoying a little hiatus (she is a business owner and new mom, afterall), Alyssa’s graphic design business is going strong. Now based out of Toronto, where she currently lives with her husband and little son, Sasha, Alyssa works with clients from all over the world on identity/branding projects, custom blog and website designs, magazine work and more.

 

We were thrilled to learn more about Alyssa’s background, her business and her new life in Toronto.

 

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Image source: Portrait of Alyssa Yuhas by Brookelyn Fitts.

 

EQ3  How did you narrow in on what you’re doing? Tell us about your design background and how you ended up in graphic design?

 

ALYSSA YUHAS  I was pretty academic in high school. I took some art classes, but then I had a really uninspiring art teacher in Grade 10 or 11. So I stopped doing art, which was horrible. It was still there, but I just ended up focusing on math. This is a really long story, but I ended up getting recruited to play basketball. Totally crazy. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, so I went to college to play basketball. I ended up taking every math course I could at this one college, thinking I would probably move into doing mathematics or actuarial science, or something that was very statistical based and not creative at all. But then I ended up taking an art class as an elective, and I loved it. It was so amazing and my art teacher at the time, my professor, he kept bugging me to quit all of my other things – quit basketball and focus on art and design.

 

The coolest part about it was this college that I went to had an amazing visual communications program – which is graphic design – and so I ended up feeling, “yeah okay I can go two ways.” I could go the math route and I could kind of see what my life would look like. I’d be working at a desk and punching numbers. But, then I guess I just felt really called to the creative world, even though I think I was not sure what that would look like. I don’t know, just being academic in high school, you’re sometimes pushed to be (something), like you’re going to be an engineer or all these different things. Being creative, I just never thought of that as career, or could visualize that as a career, but then it kind of all made sense when I saw, “okay I could be a designer though”, doing marketing and big ad campaigns. So it started to make sense in my head a bit more.

 

 

EQ3  Fast-forwarding to where you’re at now, do you find that having the math component (the fact that you are both creative and mathematical…or left and right brained) helps you in your career as a designer, especially in the branding and marketing world?

 

AY  Yeah, actually, the coolest part that I realized once I went into design is that math, yeah it’s all about numbers, but really at the root of it it’s all about problem solving. And, that’s what design is too.

 

Good design is all about seeing a problem and figuring out how to make it work. Whether it’s product design where you’re seeing an issue and you create a product to solve the consumer’s need, or a company has a message that they need to get out to the masses and you need to craft the right approach…to get what they’re trying to communicate out, it’s really crazy how close they are, in a sense. And, I definitely think that background of just being able to look at things and problem solve really well has helped in my design career, for sure.

 

 

EQ3  Did you consider any other career paths?

 

AY  I was taking all of those (mathematics) courses. I think I was planning to eventually become an architect. My grandfather was an architect, so I think that had always been in my brain. So I was just taking the steps to do that. I was really good in math in high school, so an engineer was also a thought that had been presented to me.

 

 

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EQ3  So moving over to your blog and your own work, can you give us a bit of an overview of how that fell into place. What prompted you to start a blog, and then a magazine, and then freelance. How did that progress? 

 

AY  I started my blog (ilikenicethingsblog.com) almost right out of college. It was really just a place for me to post inspiration, and I was finding things online or just in my world. I loved to share things with my friends, so I loved to tell them about a really good movie or a great hair product, or anything really – anything sort of inspiring. I was just kind of creating an outlet for that, and I thought other people might be interested in seeing the different things that I was finding. So that’s how it sort of came to be and how it has evolved.

 

I’ve kind of taken a hiatus from that now, but my husband and I have been starting to talk more about jumping back in again and we’ve had a little bit of interest from people for us to get back, starting it again. But we want to look at it in a different way and do something that feels authentic to us, and with our new family and different things like that. And, I really want to get him more involved in it. So that’s a little teaser…

 

 

EQ3  Nice! Oh, we’re looking forward to it. Your husband, is he a photographer…is that correct?

 

AY  Yeah!

 

 

EQ3  You would be a really dynamic duo blogging side by side. So where does the magazine fit into all of this? How did you get into actually launching the magazine? And, then, you’ve taken a step back. Is that something you’ll be picking up again too when you come up with this new direction?

 

AY  I sort of took a risk…I’ve always loved magazines. Ever since I started in design, that was sort of my thought – that I would eventually work for a magazine. And, then I was working for a boutique design studio and I just decided one day, “okay I want to work for one, but why don’t I just create one myself.” So I just decided to jump in and try, and I didn’t have anything to lose. I put out the first one, and then one of my really great friends, Liz Field, is a writer and she fell in love with the idea and we decided to partner up. So she has been working with me ever since. It’s now both our baby.

 

It’s evolved. We’ve done over 10 issues and it’s been really, really well received. We’re just at a point now where we really feel we’re at a crossroads and we need to figure out a new direction and even hone in on what welikewelove is really about and what people really love about it, and sort of develop more of a niche market for it. We’re just kind of trying to figure that out so we can make it more sustainable for the future, because as of right now it’s just Liz and I, really, and it’s just a labour of love. So if we’re going to move forward, we really need to figure out how to make it profitable and make it that people still love it, and that it’s not losing its voice – that it’s still a really great place for people to come be inspired, to get to share what they’re doing, and to tell people a little bit about their world.

 

 

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EQ3  You’re sort of deciding where you’re going to go with that, but can you tell us about what it has been? What are the core ideas of welikewelove?

 

AY  The magazine came out of my blog. My blog was all about sharing, and so welikewelove came out of that. So the magazine at its core is about sharing the things that we like and love, whether it’s what you’re doing, you’re creative passion…those types of things. So I think it will always be about sharing, and really about having a voice for creatives. I think right now we’ve been so lucky to work with amazing people from all over the world, which has been really, really cool, but I think one thing Liz and I really have a heart for, and I think even just talking to you, it’s really cool, is how amazing the creatives are in Canada. Whether they’re living in Canada or they’re living abroad, it’s still such an amazing community and I think sometimes we feel we need to look elsewhere for inspiration and different things like that, but I think Liz and I really have a heart for our country. We have so many things we can look to right in our country that can be super inspiring, and maybe even link the community a little bit better together so we don’t feel we need to always go out. We can sort of learn from each other and celebrate the things that we’re doing. Whether we’re living in Canada or not isn’t really the issue. Yeah, I think that’s sort of where we’re going with it, but we’re still in the dreaming process right now and just trying to figure out what that exactly looks like.

 

 

EQ3  That sounds really exciting. We look forward to it! Of all of these cool things you’ve been doing the last 5 years or so, what have you found most gratifying? Why?

 

AY  I don’t know! I love collaborating, so working on the magazine with Liz has been amazing and then just pulling in all of the different contributors. It’s just really special when you get an amazing editorial sent to you or you’re working with a photographer to shoot something and you’re talking about concepting. That’s really cool. And, then down to even my own company, working with some clients, especially when it is fully a collaboration between both of us…I think that’s when I really come alive and I think my best design and creativity happens.

 

I also work on La Petite Magazine, which I’m really excited about and I have such a great relationship with the Founder and Editor-in-Chief. We have a really great working relationship too and we have so much fun. When you get that little sweet spot, yeah it’s really exciting, and I think the best work comes out of those relationships.

 

 

EQ3  Do you have any advice for designers or creative individuals who are looking to try new things, take risks, branch out, or do something maybe unexpected?

 

AY Yeah, and I mean, I feel like I’m talking to myself when I say this cause we’re kind of at a crossroads with welikewelove, and even my blog whether we jump back in or we close it forever. I think even when you think that you have a plan, or you’re trying to figure out a plan, you just need to jump in. I’m such a list person, and organized, so I like to have everything…this is step 1, 2, 3 and this is how it’s all going to look. But I think I’m learning that if you do that, you’ll keep doing that, and then you’ll never actually jump in and try it.

 

Even with my freelancing, like how I was freelancing and was working for a company. I decided I really wanted to start my own business, but it was months and months of me like “okay well this is the steps to do it,” but finally I just had to jump in, even if I didn’t have all of my ducks in a row. Because if I didn’t, I was just going to continue to make lists and continue to figure out steps.

 

I think that’s what I’d say…maybe have a bit of a plan, but eventually your plan isn’t going to go the way you planned, so just jump in and take risks. Some things are going to fail, but you’re going to learn from them. I’m totally speaking to myself right now, so that’s good.

 

 

EQ3  We can always use that reminder. We’re planners too! Has freelancing been what you thought it would be?

 

AY  It’s awesome. I love it. It’s hard work. Most people say when running your own business, 40 percent is design time, 60 percent is admin, managing clients, doing accounting and all of those different things. That’s maybe a bit of a shock when you jump into it, but I love it. Especially now with having Sasha, just the freedom and flexibility that it brings…I can hang out with him during the day and work at night. Or, if he’s having a good day, I can do a little bit of work during the day or when he’s on naps I can work a bit. So it’s really nice. I get to spend a lot of time with him, and still get to run my business, which really feeds me. I don’t think I could have just taken time off or stepped away even for a year. It really makes me come alive, so I’m thankful that I still can do it and be a mom, and still enjoy every moment with my son.

 

 

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EQ3  What inspires you? Where do you look for inspiration?

 

AY  Anywhere, everywhere. I love going for walks, so that’s a huge thing. Even just to get out and kind of explore our city. We just moved here a little over a year ago, to Toronto. The city has so many little pockets and amazing things to explore, and I love exploring, so that definitely brings inspiration. I read a lot of magazines. I love blogs and Pinterest, clearly, is pretty crazy. I’m really trying to step away from my computer more in the inspiration (process) because I’m almost feeling uninspired being at my computer.

 

I feel like even if I’m just walking along, just getting up, away from my desk, out of the house, kind of getting to think and bring so many more ideas…and, new and fresh ideas too.

 

 

EQ3  You may be trying to step away from your computer, but there’s still a lot that needs to be done through social media. What platform do you feel most at home on?

 

AY  I still love Twitter and I love Instagram. Those would probably be the two that I’m on the most. I’m less likely to just go on my blog reader anymore. If I’m reading blogs it’ll be because of something I’ve seen on Twitter or someone posts on Instagram. Those two are my main…my jams right now. Haha.

 

 

EQ3 What is on your inspiration board right now…whether that’s a physical one in your office or a Pinterest board online?

 

AY  I have been making a (Pinterest) board for my new wardrobe…living in Toronto, being a mom and just trying to figure that out. So I’m kind of doing that right now, which is maybe a little embarrassing. But I love it, and it’s actually a private board, so no one can see it at this point. I’m just getting really inspired. I know this sounds boring, but I’m just loving black and white right now, and really graphic prints, and the bold typography that’s found on t-shirts. I guess very nineties, but I’m really, really loving that. Strong lines…and yeah definitely it’s very European.

 

 

EQ3  Speaking of Europe, weren’t you travelling recently?

 

AY  Last year we were in Europe. And, then we just recently were in Nashville, which was amazing. I love it. I love travelling.

 

 

EQ3  Do you feel influenced by whatever environment you’re in? Do you find that affects your designs?

 

AY  Oh totally. When my husband and I travel, we really try to do things that are less touristy and more in the culture. Pretty much all of our trips now, we try to book Air BnB so we’re staying in someone’s home, so it feels more like we’re living in the city and not a tourist…that we’re a part of it. So I think that’s cool, just to feel like you’re a citizen of the city. That’s been really fun. And, when we go away we’ve been trying to connect with people who live there. Even when we went to Berlin, we met up with some photographers and they were able to show us around the city, and just even to talk to them about their lifestyle and different things. I’m just really fascinated with how people live all over the world. It’s very different. Where we moved from in Calgary is very different to how we live now in Toronto, to how people live in Europe or New York and I just think it’s very interesting.

 

I love especially booking Air BnB just to see how people decorate their homes and the different things people have in their homes. Just snoop around I guess. It’s fun.

 

 

EQ3  To wrap up, what are your 3 must-have tools for living and working…things you can’t live / work without?

 

AY  I need a notebook, and I found these pens that I really, really love. They’re actually from Superstore and they write amazing. I love sketching things or doodling in my notebook with these pens. Also, a really great chair for my desk. And, my iPhone because I can work anywhere. I can be going on a walk with Sasha and I can still check my emails.

 

Thanks for the chat Alyssa! Check out AlyssaYuhas.com to see more from this Canadian designer.

Interview: Carla Zacharias from EQ3

Nov 27, 2013

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We’re always amazed at the incredible amount of talent floating around our head office and retail stores. It’s a wonderful and inspiring thing to be surrounded by so many creative people. We wanted to give you a taste of what it’s like to be a part of our little family, and hopefully inspire you in the process, so we sat down with designer Carla Zacharias to learn all about her role here at EQ3!

 

Carla joined the product development team a little over 3 years ago, and has been bringing fresh, new designs to the EQ3 product line ever since. She’s a fantastic designer and has a great eye for detail. She’s also a go-to for the latest in design and colour trends, and has a deep understanding and appreciation for the craft of handmade rugs. This girl knows her stuff!

 

Read on to learn more about Carla’s work…

 

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Image source: portrait of Carla by Charles Venzon

 

EQ3  Tell us about your role here at EQ3. What does your job entail?

 

CARLA ZACHARIAS   My official title is Accessory Product Manager. My job is to develop, design and manage the creation of accessory specific products which include, but are not limited to lamps, tableware, rugs, and textiles. I oversee the entire process of a product from design brief to retail introduction. The process of any new launch of a product includes responding to a marketplace need, working with designers or designing, finalizing colours and materials of a product, finding a supplier, overseeing any manufacturing challenges, working with the graphic team on the packaging of a product, and finalizing product placement in the store with the visual team. Or to put it simply, my job is to develop product.

 

 

EQ3  What is your design background (educational / work)?

 

CZ  I went to school at the University of Manitoba in the Faculty of Architecture and graduated with a Bachelor of Environmental Design, specializing in Interior Design. Within that time, I also had an opportunity to be part of a furniture design studio.

 

 

EQ3  How did these experiences prepare you for your position?

 

CZ  The furniture studio prepared me for understanding materials and the importance of designing a product around the characteristics and the properties of each material. For example, wood is a living material and will shrink, grow, warp and change colour overtime, and understanding these properties is important for the design of a product, and can be celebrated within a design.

 

We also did a lot of space planning and floor planning, which have really helped me understand how people use space and furniture; and, that essentially affects everything that we do here at EQ3 in terms of product.

 

 

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EQ3  Let’s talk about designs you’ve done for EQ3. Can you highlight a few of them? Any favourites?

 

CZ  My first design that went into production was the Zach Rug. Some newer designs would include the Plaid and the Duplex bedding which just hit stores this fall, as well as the Chess Rug, Roscoe Rug and the Castra Rug. Coming in early next year are oiled oak stumpy wall hooks, and a collection of table linens. The Cheese Board, Cutting Board and Pizza Board were a collaboration with Creative Director Thom Fougere.

 

 

EQ3  What about the products you’ve brought in as a buyer. Any favourite finds there?

 

CZ  Definitely Urbio. The Tino Pendant. And, the Tiller Rug.

 

 

EQ3  We’re curious…what was your last EQ3 purchase?!

 

CZ  A Reverie Sofa and loveseat in Durango Rio (leather).

 

 

EQ3  You get to travel a lot for work. Where have you been? What experiences stand out most in your mind?

 

CZ  I have been to India, China, Taiwan, Germany, and Sweden. The place that stands out most is India, of course. I really got immersed in the handicraft side of production and the skills and crafts that are involved with that, especially the handmade rugs. Did you know it can take up to a year to make a hand knotted rug? Unreal! I also always really enjoy travelling to Europe…because of the coffee…and the food.

 

 

EQ3  What other perks come with the job?

 

CZ  Because we have to be aware of the marketplace, global trends and emerging design trends, a major perk in my job is that I’m “forced” to read blogs, magazines, and attend design shows. I think it’s awesome that that is part of my day-to-day tasks of working. Obviously, another perk is travel. I get to travel to places in the world that I would probably not have had a chance to otherwise see. I normally get to visit the locations unknown to tourists, getting a real feel for the culture. Also, how can you not enjoy working in an office environment with so many young, creative, talented people.

 

 

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EQ3  Your job requires you to stay on top of design trends. How do you manage this? Where do you look for inspiration?

 

CZ  Definitely at shows. I think the biggest show for inspiration would be Ambiente in Frankfurt. A lot of the well-known design brands showcase their new products and the show focuses on up and coming design trends and overall good design. It is always interesting to see how common materials are being transformed into design ideas – products you wouldn’t normally expect. Other inspiration comes from blogs, there’s always design weeks around cities, magazines, visiting design orientated retail stores while travelling…that type of thing. Sometimes just a weekend at the lake. I might see something that inspires me…the look of it, or the shape, and then that becomes something else.

 

 

EQ3  Do you have any reading recommendations – sites, blogs, magazines or other publications – that we should check out?

 

CZ  The EQ3 blog…haha! Also, My Scandinavian Home (myscandinavianhome.blogspot.com). I love European and Scandinavian influences.

 

 

EQ3  What are you currently working on? What’s next for EQ3’s accessory collection?

 

CZ  This spring we’re launching a collection that focuses on cottage living: textures, materials and natural, rustic references will be a key part of the collection.

 

I’m most looking forward to the Fall 2014 collection, but I’m not saying anything more about it!

 

 

EQ3 Guess our readers will have to wait and see! So, it’s clear that your job here at EQ3 keeps you busy. But, when you’re not working, where would we most likely find you?

 

CZ  In summer, at a lake, or on a patio. In winter, coffee shops or cooking/baking in my kitchen.

 

 

EQ3  What are your 3 must-have tools for living and working…things you can’t live / work without?

 

CZ  Pantone swatches, Illustrator & AutoCAD, and EQ3’s ice cream club.

 

Thanks Carla! We really need to find a way to join that club. It sounds amazing.

Video: Eames Demetrios Part 2

Oct 10, 2013

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As promised, we’re continuing our Eames Demetrios video mini-series.

 

We interviewed Eames during his visit to Winnipeg a few weeks back. Last week, he discussed the timelessness of the Eameses design ideologies. Today, he’s sharing personal memories of what life was like when you entered Charles and Ray’s world.

 

You can watch the second installment below.

Life with the Eameses: What was it like growing up as the grandson of Charles and Ray?

 

Video by EQ3.com

Interview: Janine Vangool from Uppercase

Oct 7, 2013

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UPPERCASE is a quarterly magazine publication that is based in Calgary and read by creative-minded folk around the world. Founded in 2009 by Janine Vangool, the magazine’s content is as beautiful as it is eclectic, covering all things creative and celebrating, in particular, vintage ephemera. Janine handles most aspects of the magazine herself, working as UPPERCASE’s publisher, editor and designer.

 

Intrigued by Janine’s work and her global influence on the art and design community, we were thrilled when she agreed to do an interview for the blog.

 

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Image source: portrait of Janine Vangool by Heather Saitz

 

EQ3  You seem to have your hand in a lot of creative fields! When did you know you wanted to work in a creative field? And, why did you choose to focus on graphic design in college?

 

JANINE VANGOOL  Pretty much as soon as I knew how to write, I was interested in putting words and pictures together. When I was a girl, I used to make little books and magazines out of scrap paper and force my family to sign them out of my “library”. In highschool, I was the yearbook editor and that’s when I realized that putting together books and publications could be an actual career for me.

 

 

EQ3  What did the earlier days of your career look like – pre-UPPERCASE?

 

JV  My first job following graduation was working for a design firm specializing in signage and wayfinding. I spent months setting up signage files for production (ie specifying the position and design of the washroom signs in the local sports arena). Needless to say, it wasn’t very inspiring. Working in that first job was excellent motivation to become my own boss. I developed my design style and roster of clients over the next few years, specializing in print design for arts and culture clients. I did everything from small ads to large publications and marketing materials, as well as publication design for books and art publications.

 

 

EQ3  Tell us about your start in the publishing industry. What inspired the creation of UPPERCASE? Where did the magazine’s concept – the creative and curious – come from?

 

JV  Following the closure of an independent magazine that I freelanced for, the “magazine” section of my brain was free to explore. I had fantasized about designing my own magazine and I was getting tired of working for clients on their ideas but not my own. It also coincided with the closure of some mainstream magazines (Domino, Martha Stewart’s Blueprint) and I recognized there was a void for a well-designed, visually inspiring publication. The content came from my own interests as a graphic designer, but the magazine is not specifically about graphic design… we say we’re “creative and curious” with an eclectic content range from design, typography, illustration and crafting to just about any topic that relates to creative fields.

 

 

EQ3  With the prominence of blogs and online magazines, content is being delivered instantly and constantly! How do you gather the unique and original content that UPPERCASE is known for when working with the production delay that comes with print media?

 

JV  It is difficult to compete with the immediacy of the web sometimes. Certainly a lot of the content that is in the magazine might have been inspired by something seen on an artist’s blog or portfolio site. What makes UPPERCASE special is how the articles are curated and those serendipitous moments when seemingly diverse topics in fact have common threads. I also have a great roster of contributors who bring their areas of interest and expertise into the mix.

 

 

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EQ3  UPPERCASE is in its 4th year now. What are some common threads between every issue that you’ve produced? And, how has the magazine evolved over the years?

 

JV  Our tagline is “for the creative and curious”—this is a broad statement but our content is inspired by design, illustration and craft. We like to find creative tangents for our themes, engage our readership to participate in calls for content and imagery, and we often collaborate directly with our readers on articles.

 

The subjects are very eclectic, but at its core the magazine has an appreciation of the creative process, the handmade and the personal. Each issue has a number of themes that we use as a basis for editorial exploration.

 

 

EQ3  If you had to choose a favourite issue from the archives, what would it be and why?

 

JV  That’s a difficult question—it would be like trying to choose a favourite child! I’m fond of issue #13, in which we explore how weather can inspire creativity. The cover features gloss foil raindrops falling from clouds; in certain lighting it looks like wet droplets of rain.

 

 

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EQ3 UPPERCASE recently moved into a new workspace. Tell us about the new studio’s interior design. What words would you use to describe it? Where did you look for inspiration when pulling it together?

 

JV  Our new office is on the second level of a 100-year-old heritage building called The Devenish. When I first saw the space, it was in terrible shape—the ceiling was literally falling down. However, I saw past that to its great bones: lovely large windows, brick walls, high ceilings… My landlord has been excellent at letting me choose the flooring and wall colours and the transformation has been great. Now it is bright and so spacious! At 1000 square feet, the office actually has more square footage than my house, so it is so nice to have extra room. Erin Bacon, Jocelyn Kabatoff and I have our own work areas and there is plenty of room to grow into.

 

The new office is much more classic and sophisticated than my previous space, and that was intentional. I’ve grown and matured, as the company has, and so the interior reflects that.

 

 

EQ3  One of the major themes in the latest issue of Uppercase (#19) is the aesthetics of work, including vintage offices. In what ways did your move into the new studio impact the issue’s theme and content?

 

JV  The aesthetics of work is definitely a theme that emerged from having to pack up my old office of eight years. It led to an investigation of other methods of working and arranging workspaces. The issue has articles about coworking, a history of the cubicle and an ode to vintage office supplies.

 

 

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Cover of UPPRECASE Magazine issue #19: art by Lydia Shirreff

 

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EQ3  What’s at the top of your reading list right now (besides UPPERCASE, of course!)? Print and digital publications are both fair game, here.

 

JV  I enjoy reading independent magazines from around the world. Right now, I’m reading Extra Curricular, a magazine from New Zealand. It explores what creative people do in their spare time.

 

 

EQ3  You’ve already accomplished so much in your career. What has been the biggest highlight, for you personally, so far?

 

JV  That’s hard to answer. I don’t measure my career in moments; moments are fleeting. I find tremendous satisfaction at looking at the physical output of my creative and entrepreneurial endeavors. The stacks of magazines, the bookshelf full of my books… that is lasting and satisfying.

 

 

EQ3  What’s next…for you and for UPPERCASE?

 

JV  I’m looking forward to settling in to the new space. We’ve been here just about a month, but the past few weeks I’ve been immersed in getting the fall issue off to print, so now I can finish arranging a few more areas and then we’ll have an office-warming gathering. My team—Erin Bacon and Jocelyn Kabatoff—and I look forward to nurturing and growing UPPERCASE from this new home.

 

 

EQ3  Finally, as the magazine’s publisher, editor and designer, you have to wear a lot of different hats! What are your 3 must-have tools for living and working – things you can’t work/live without?

 

JV  Yes, juggling ideas, projects and tasks is my daily existence. Other than my laptop and iphone, I can’t work without Evernote. Evernote is a service that allows you to keep and sort notes, images and files and sync them across all your devices. It is where I store all of the magazine content ideas, suggestions and keep my goals and tasks organized. I’ve been using it since developing the second issue, and now it is so integral to my process I can’t imagine working without it!

 

Thanks Janine! We’re thrilled to get our hands on a copy of the latest issue. Visit uppercasemagazine.com for more information on this magazine or to purchase a subscription.

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