EASTSIDE CULTURE CRAWL: A Few Minutes With “Astrosatchel” Designer Janna Hurtzig
The Eastside Culture Crawl (November 18, 19, 20) is hands-down one of the best things about Vancouver during November. During The Crawl, painters, sculpters, jewellery designers, carvers, photographers, potters, furniture designers, glass blowers and printmakers on the eastside open their their studios to the public and the nightly vibe of the already cool-as-hell neighbourhood rises to freakin’ awesome levels. The Crawl covers the area between Terminal Avenue to Burrard Inlet between Main Street and Victoria Drive (handy map). This year there will be over 300 artists participating. That’s a lot of ground to cover, and a lot of artists to meet, so we figure it’s a good idea to meet a few of them in advance so as to better familiarise ourselves (and yourselves) with what to expect. First up: Janna Hurtzig of Astrosatchel.
“Inspired by nature, the Astrosatchel label combines Scandinavian design, Asian pop culture influences and a Canadian cottage feel”. Janna is the driving force behind the iconic eastside tote bags, wallets, diaper bags made from vegan friendly Naugahyde vinyl.
This year, Janna is has thrown a little bit of cashmere into the mix with her Winterluxe line of scarves, mittens, arm warmers, pillows and rugs made using recycled cashmere. Scout was familiar with the Astrosatchel totes and purses (there are more than a few of Janna’s designs floating around the Scout office), but cashmere? It didn’t take much more than a mention of the word paired with Janna’s reputation as a stylin’ seamstress to send us snooping through her eastside studio. Here’s what we found out…
Three things about Railtown that makes it so awesome: “It seems everyone down here is creative in some manner, so there’s lots of people to draw on for their talents and input. It seems everyone feels a high level of community, which always makes things better. I enjoy working here, and find the semi-industrialness of the area inspiring.”
How many years have you participated in the Eastside Culture Crawl? This is my 7th Eastside Culture Crawl, and it gets better every year.
Three words you would use to describe the ECC to someone who had never attended: Eclectic. Creative. Voyeurism.
What are you most excited to be working on right now? I’m excited to be working on my Winterluxe recycled cashmere line. Sourcing the sweaters is always fun because I never know what I’m going to find, and I love that I can turn something that was once really nice back into something wearable again. In trying to use ‘all the good bits’, I developed my shag technique, which I’ve turned into cushions and rugs.
What inspires you? Seeing poorly designed things inspires me to make things that are better. I draw a lot of inspiration from Canadiana, retro-modern aesthetics, and vintage accessories. At the end of the day, I design for myself and my own needs, which have become more practical, yet decadent over time: my cashmere shag rug is probably my favourite thing I’ve made in ages.
What sort of music do you listen to when you work? I listen to tons of music, mostly indie bands. Sometimes I wish I could listen to two things at once. There’s so much more great music to listen to online through sites like Spinner, Bandcamp and Grooveshark.
Why is Vancouver a good city for art? I think the sheer number of artists working in the city makes Vancouver an excellent place. Art is definitely part of our culture here.
Is there a local designer or artist that you admire above all others? I love the work that Melissa Wong (aka Mel King) is doing. I’m lucky to have some of her geometry based drawings and paintings, but whenever I see her new work, I start thinking “where could that go…” I love abstraction, so her work is something I never get tired of, which is good. I wake up looking at a large piece of hers every morning and it helps me get excited about coming to the studio and being creative.
Three places you like to take out of town guests to show off the art scene in Vancouver: My building (339 Railway) because I know all the artists here personally. This always gives a deeper level to me when I see their art. I like to take people to various arts markets, and events like Eastside Culture Crawl, or Shiny Fuzzy Muddy. Hot One Inch Action (the button trading show) is a riot. There are always lots of openings and events in Gastown, so I think hitting a couple of those is a fun way to spend an evening, and the variety keeps it interesting. I really like Catalog gallery, I always fall in love with whatever they’re showing.