Say Hi To Courtney Johnston of Vancouver’s “Telly Design”

April 24, 2010.


With the GotCraft? show coming up, we’ve gotten in touch with a few of the local artists prepping their work for show at the annual indie craft fair. Today we hear from Courtney Johnston of Telly Design. Telly, based in Vancouver in a studio that Courtney built for herself in a corner of her home, is known for understated and elegant designs that hold wide appeal. Get to know Courtney of Telly Design below and visit her table at GotCraft? this May 2nd.

Scout Q&A

Three things about your neighbourhood that make you want to live there: I live in Kitsilano, the lovely village by the beach. There is much to love about this part of Vancouver: the beach! A great place to hang out, swim, run, people watch and bbq on sunny Sunday afternoons.  A lot of my friends have settled in Kits and it’s an easy place to meet new friends too (super handy if you run out of gin). I walk and bike everywhere (my car gets dusty). Oh, and the restaurants! We have some good, diverse eats in Kits like Refuel, Maenam, Abigail’s Party, the burrito bar at Capers and my favourite, La Quercia.

Tell us about some of your favourite local haunts: I adore our local Vancouver farmers markets, I’m there every weekend in the summer scouting for heirloom tomatoes and buying local goodies, and of course Granville Island Market offers some great produce and is the world’s best place for a charcuterie dinner…eating local always tastes better. I’m a thrifty girl (sometimes) so I love my local Salvation Army. It’s run by some very sweet ladies and I always score great vintage material and unique threads. When I’m not making myself jewelry, I do love everything that Unity sells at U-Life (lots of great local designers). I also get great pieces at local craft fairs like GotCraft? and Blim and pick up handmade gifts from Craftworks on 4th Ave – a fabulous not-for-profit where everything is handmade.

Is there a local designer that you admire? That’s a toughie. There is so much talent in Vancouver, everything from sock puppets to street art.  I love pretty much every single vendor that shares space with me/telly in the GotCraft? shows. I admire their skills, their dedication and their creativity. The growing handmade community and open hearts of those who are makers in Vancouver is absolutely inspiring.

What else inspires you? The endless possibilities of everything. Sometimes overwhelming, simultaneously amazing.

Tell us about your favourite space to work: I currently work in my home, I’ve allocated a small studio space to my work – but I have a dream one day of a great big juicy collective space in Vancouver with artists and designers of every type working in any medium. I’d love for some grant-giving Government type to read this and say “hey, that’s a great idea” and email me with money to rent a space.

What is your favourite Telly creation right now? I’m loving making long necklaces with lockets and pretty pearls, and i’m trying to incorporate textiles like wool into some pieces but those are still in beta versions.

What sort of music do you listen to when you are working? I really dig the KCRW station on iTunes radio, super diverse and lots of independent bands making great music, otherwise my iPod is playing my favourite Canadian bands like Dojo Workhorse, Stars, Joel Plaskett and during hockey season, sometimes it’s the sweet sound of Canucks games.

Why is Vancouver a good city for indie design? Vancouver seems to attract a real smarty-pant creative entrepreneurial community that is supportive, welcoming and accessible. If you design or make something that you love, chances are someone in Vancouver loves it too and wants to pay you for it and support your vision.

Describe your favourite part of a typical Telly day: I love the earliness and possibility of weekend mornings, hot coffee in hand, I let my creative muse take me where she wants me to go, and see what happens.

If you were to choose one of your creations to send to the Queen, which one would you choose, and why? That saucy minx rocks some serious bling. It would be tough to compete with the royal jewels, however I do think she could pull of a simplified look (read: sans crown and chalice) in which case I would send her a necklace of fine gold chain with a single pearl, very fine indeed.

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