Jeannette Ordas And The Beautiful Project

March 21, 2009.

At Scout we are inspired by people who create. We dig the cards made by Vancouver designer Jeannette Ordas and thought you should know about her too, so we tracked her down and asked her a few questions.

Jeannette Ordas has always been a dabbler. Years ago she published a good old fashioned zine built with paper and photocopiers. She also made short films that made it onto screens across North America, and then she discovered the internets and studied “New Media” after receiving a full scholarship from Vancouver Film School. Way back when she was still considered “young”, she was listed in 2002 as CBC 3’s Top 25 Young Creatives in Canada. She now runs her own web design company, Matchbox Creative with her husband (he does the code, she does the design) out of their small home office located in beautiful Strathcona on the edge of Chinatown and the Downtown Eastside. Since 2005 she has also worn the hat of food blogger. She was just recently awarded a 2009 Bloggie (Best Canadian Blog) for her food blog, Everybody Likes Sandwiches (which isn’t just about sandwiches).In 2006 she started The Beautiful Project which showcases her illustrations in a line of sweet and sassy note cards and paperie. Her paper works can be found in her online etsy shop and in stores around Vancouver, Victoria, Halifax, and for some reason, Belgium and Luxembourg.


Indie Profile

Tell us three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: Strathcona. Best things? Walking/cycling distance to anywhere I want to go, Sunrise Market on the edge of Chinatown, and the croissants at Union Market.

Which Vancouver shops carries your wares? My cards can be purchased at Paper Ya on Granville Island and Dandelion Emporium on Main Street. I also have an etsy shop and I will be taking part in the Got Craft? fair on Sunday May 3rd at the Legion on Commercial Drive.

Where do you enjoy shopping in Vancouver? Tell us about some of your favourite local haunts: VanChina on Hastings between Main and Gore is my sweet spot for strange and wonderful Chinese paper and inspiration. (For bread) Benny’s Market in Strathcona has the best crusty sourdough loaf for $2.19. (For olive oil) Tosi & Co. on Main Street between Keefer and Georgia Street. I buy a big can of Italian Sagra Olive Oil. Delicious. Plus the store is pretty rad.

Is there a local designer who you admire? Why? I’m a huge fan of the work of Sharilyn Wright who is the genius behind Lovely Design’s beautiful handmade home products. Vicki Wong who is the Vancouver half of the brilliant Meomi who not only do the cutest illustration work, but have recently put out a bunch of amazing kids books. Lori Kiessling is my favorite photographer and she recently edited the book, Vancouver Matters. There’s so much great Vancouver talent! Even when I visit local craft fairs, I’m always amazed at all the talent out there.

What inspires you? I get inspired by looking through old thrifted kids picture books, vintage linens, and illustrations from old cookbooks.

Tell us about your favourite space to work: I have a home office that I share with my husband, so it’s pretty much the only place I work (except when I fold and cut my cards: that is done while catching up on Gossip Girl in front of the tv). But on sunny warm days with the windows open and my music turned up loud, it’s a pretty great place to be.

What is your favourite Beautiful Project design right now? I just put out a couple of cards that are positive sentiments in an explosion of colourful tear drops. You Look Beautiful Today and Good Things Will Happen are the ones I like the best at the moment. But I also just finished a 4 card set of some super cute bunny girls and I just got them printed and they look great….so I also love them too. When I put out new cards, those usually become my favorites…until the next new thing. I’m fickle that way.

What sort of music do you listen to when you are working? I always have my iTunes on loud. Right now it’s lots of Thee Oh Sees, The Black Lips, The Mighty Hannibal, The Fall, Kanye West, Herman Dune. I listen to so much music while working, but if it’s sweet and pleasant or if it’s booty shakin’, if it makes me feel good, then it’s good music to work to.

Is there a Vancouver event (a craft fair, design show, farmers market) that you look forward to attending or taking part in? I’m always excited for the start of the Trout Lake Farmer’s Market in the spring. I have a food blog, so finding such great local produce is always exciting. As for crafts, I’ll be participating in not only the Got Craft Fair in May, but I’ve been accepted into the One of a Kind Craft Fair happening in October. It’s going to be a huge trade show kind of event and I’m super nervous! Luckily, I’ll be sharing a booth with 2 other crafty ladies (we’re members of a craft collective called Hob Snobs). It should be fun and nerve wracking!

Why is Vancouver a good city for indie design? Vancouver is an expensive city, so you have to be creative in order to live the way you want to live and I think that translates into all the great indie design and art this city has. Vancouver still has a lot to strive for as it could be a lot more fun and interesting. And while Vancouver does have a reputation for being a “No Fun City” because of all the ridiculous laws and ordinances, it’s hard to squash down a spark of creativity and so there are always ways to get around the man.

What are your future plans for the Beautiful Project? The Beautiful Project is a side project for me (I have a web design company with my husband), so I haven’t been putting all my time into it as if it was a full-time gig. But I work really hard at my business and would really love to get my cards into more shops around town and around the world. For me it started as a project to grow as an illustrator and because it’s so fun, I’m learning all the time and hopefully getting better and better.

We know that you wear many different hats, still you make time to work on the Beautiful Project, what is it about paper and printing that you find so irresistible? Working with paper and print is fun because it’s what I started with as a kid drawing and doodling, so what I’m doing now is an extension of that same feeling. Drawing is fun but coming from a pixel-background as a web designer, getting the results I wanted out of printing did take time and a lot of experimentation. One day I hope to have a larger space where I can silkscreen and of course, I would love to have access to a letterpress.

I get such a kick out of the ‘sassy’ side of The Beautiful Project’s “sweet n’ sassy” image – would you say that this ‘sass’ comes from your personality? Would your friends call you sassy? I definitely have a silly sense of humour and I can be a bit sarcastic, so I think the sassy angle is part of a social persona that I’d love to own. It’s easier to be sassy on paper anyways…at least for me!

If you were to choose one of your cards to send to the queen, which one would you choose, and why? It would be pretty punk rock of me to send her my “The Finger” card, but I’m not very nasty so I would just send her my “Picnic Manners” card because I think she probably needs to get out more and sit under a tree.

If you were to choose one of your cards to send to Scout, which one would you choose, and why? “You Look Beautiful Today” because isn’t that what everybody should hear? Plus, I moved away from my usual pallet of muted pastels and went for brights and that just feels cheerful…especially for Vancouver’s grey days.




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