At Scout we are inspired by people who create. We met Shannon Harvey of Monkey100 at last year’s East Side Culture Crawl and cornered her last week to ask her a few questions. Read on…
Shannon Harvey is an ex-pat from the United States and recent immigrant to Canada. She is a socially engaged artist (S.E.A Monkey) with a career spanning community murals, theatre, installation and artist residencies. She sees Monkey100 as an extension of this work: an engagement through the arts to instigate dialogue and positive change.
Shannon creates all the designs and screenprints them as well in her Powell St. studio. Each series of designs is inspired by issues she feels passionate about and are meant to spark conversation. She believes the idea of wearing your heart on your sleeve is important. Too often, we think we should hide our strong feelings and ideas but this dialogue is really what’s needed if we’re going to heal ourselves and the planet.
Monkey100 uses bamboo t-shirts made in Canada.
Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: Strathcona is my neighborhood, it’s a walk/bike friendly place, close to everything I need to get to. People are out and about here – exercising in the park, on their stoops, skateboarders, bikers, kids playing. Its story is one of real love – as the oldest neighborhood in Vancouver with a long history of people fighting to protect it.
Vancouver shop that carries your wares …or somewhere that people can find your work: Vancouver Art Gallery gift shop, VanDusen Botanical Garden gift shop, Granville Island Organix. My online store mky100.com, lots of local art markets & events, including Epic (weekend of May 8th), Make It Art Market, Portabello in the summer, Vancouver Farmer’s Market
Where do you enjoy shopping in Vancouver? (for supplies) Urban Source, Willox; (for clothing) Narcissist (for beautiful dresses); (for jewelry) Fibre Manipulator (she does amazing things with fabric).
Is there a local designer who you admire? I’ve met so many designers here who I admire and who are super talented. If I had to name a few, it would be Moukisac (she makes these cool shopping bags), Flora & Fauna (beautiful organic clothing with fun prints), Fibre Manipulator (again, I love her stuff)…I could keep going but those are some faves.
What inspires you? Playing the accordion, The way trees look in winter – just before it gets dark, watching birds fly in groups, guerilla gardens, reading GOOD magazine.
Tell us about your favourite space to work: Right now that would be the studio I use in my apartment. I’m across the street from an elementary school and it’s cheerful hearing kids voices.
What is your favourite Monkey100 design right now? My favorite right now is a brand new one called “Lifecycle”. The design was inspired by Tibetan mandalas and it’s a playful meditation on biking in the city.
What sort of music do you listen to when you are working? It ranges from Crowded House to Queens of Fado, Prince, bossa nova, French accordion music…I’m all over the place when it comes to music.
Is there a Vancouver event that you look forward to attending or taking part in? I’m really looking forward to the Car Free Festival this summer on Commercial Drive. I did it last year and it was loads of fun. People were so happy, it was warm, and the whole street was just one big party.
Why is Vancouver a good city for indie design? People really seem to be embracing the locally crafted and handmade movement here. Part of it has to do, I think, with Vancouver being the birthplace of Greenpeace, the home of Suzuki, and the 100 mile diet, among many others. I think this kind of independent, locally minded awareness seeps into you here, especially creative types who are looking for an alternative to the “bigger is better”, mass produced life.
What are your future plans for the Monkey100? My goal is to increase sales which will help me expand the social mission of the company. I see Monkey100 as a tool for launching other projects such as: a youth mentorship program, community building, art making spaces… I think successful businesses can make money and make a difference.
If you were to choose one of your t-shirts to send to the queen, which one would you choose, and why? Being a queen, I think she would appreciate “Get Pollinated”. The design is about how important bees are-without them we wouldn’t have most of the things we eat. Right now, bees are in a bad state of crisis-they’re disappearing and dying, due to pollution and other factors. Wouldn’t it be great if the queen got behind this issue?
Michelle Sproule grew up in Kitsilano and attended Bond University in Australia and the University of Victoria before receiving her graduate degree in Library Sciences from The University of Toronto. She lives by the beach in Vancouver and enjoys wandering aimlessly through the city’s shops and streets with her best friend – a beat up, sticky, grimy, and uncooperative camera.