VANCOUVER AT WORK #7: Multimedia Mastery At Gastown’s “Sharks + Hammers”

Reader “A.U” | Sharks & Hammers | Gastown | 3:45pm

“Designing take out chopstick packaging graphics while listening to a YouTube playlist of Charles Bradley.”

With Vancouver At Work, we invite Scout readers to send in photos of their work spaces, be they home offices, corporate cubicles, artist studios, fishing boats, bars or kitchen lines. It’s a lot like our View From Your Window feature, only you tell us your initials, your title at work, your place of work (optional), the neighbourhood, and the time the photo was taken with “Vancouver At Work” in the subject line. Photos and info should be sent to scoutmagazine [at] gmail [dot com], and need to be as high res as the sender can manage. Cell phone shots will do if they are no smaller than 588px wide. Now get snapping!

INTERVIEW | Chatting With Gastown’s Alex Usow, Polymath And Geniephobe

Alex Usow is a one man art collective based in Gastown. Aside from being a gallery owner, restaurateur and retailer, he’s a self-taught artist who believes in ghosts and – in the proper lighting conditions – looks exactly like Denzel Washington. He’ll be showing at The Cheaper Show on Saturday night.

A one sentence artists statement to describe your work: Picture Godzilla trying to open one of those classic combination locks – “Turn the dial right, stop at 35, then left making sure to first pass 35 and stopping at FRIG I HAVE GIANT HANDS!”

Three things about Gastown that make you want to live there: I own three businesses in Gastown. Sharks & Hammers apparel store, Sea Monstr Sushi and Catalog Gallery / Creative agency. At this point I’ve basically forced myself to live here by investing in this neighborhood that I love.

Best Vancouver place to be inspired by emerging artistic talent? For me, there is no one place for inspiration. The art gallery with a terrible abbreviated name (the VAG) is always great for inspiration by established talent, but for emerging talent it’s best just to talk to other artists and check out local shows like the ones at my gallery and at the art schools here.

What inspires your creativity? I’m inspired by mistakes and small moments where our brain stops discursively thinking.

Vancouver can be a challenging city for an artist (collectors are rare, studio space is hard to come by and the cost of living is high). Why would an artist choose to be here? Artists are notorious for making bad decisions. I love Vancouver thought because of the infinite potential it allows you to have. We’re a top tier, first world city where inspired people have all avenues for success available to them. Unless we choose to complain instead of create and sleep instead of fight.

Last art show that really blew you away: I recently illegally downloaded a pirated version of Jean-Michel Basquiat: The Radiant Child and it was rad.

Local artist you admire:
I’m currently enjoying the work by Andrea Wan, Nomi Chi, Dan Climan, Andy Dixon and the terrible all city throw-ups by MR.8.

One thing you would like to change about the art scene in Vancouver: I think paint brush stems are too long. I always cut them down to size. Seriously, sometimes the stem’s over a foot long and I have no clue why. If we made our own short stem paint brushes for Vancouver we could establish a name for ourselves as a city of artists who vehemently don’t need long brush stems and are pro-actively proud of it. Other than that I wouldn’t change a thing. Except I would change the terrible abbreviated name of the Vancouver Art Gallery.

Favourite way to get your hands dirty? Making dumplings.

How do you see Gastown changing over the next five years? Ideally, it will turn into a robot from outer space that can also transform into a truck. More likely it continue to walk the line between self-aware gentrification and a night time outdoor toilet for bridge and tunnelers. I’m good with all that but if we get a dog clothing store then I’m buying a pet alligator.

Are there any facets of your artistic identity that influence the way you approach business, or are the two sides mutually exclusive? Creativity in any of it’s forms is generally beneficial in problem solving, which is one way to define business. However, being emotional, aloof and loser drunk seems to work better in art than in business.

If the Mayor of Vancouver was a genie and could grant you three civic wishes, what would they be?  You don’t have to rub him…

1. Free citywide wifi
2. Dual Diagnosis Research Grants
3. Deport all genies

Words of wisdom for emerging artists living in Vancouver? Stay away from the brown acid and don’t give homeless people money – give them socks and Cheeseburgers.


GOODS: Gastown’s “Sharks + Hammers” Hawking 50% Off Fine Goods Over Weekend

Sharks + Hammers is located at 54 Alexander St. in Vancouver BC | 604.648.2252 |

The GOODS from Sharks + Hammers

Vancouver, BC | We’re blowing out all our high end gear: Maiden Noir, Stussy Deluxe, Perks And Mini, Rittenhouse, Surface To Air, Porter, Rag & Bone, Cassette, Y3, Uppercut, Maharishi, YMC and more! All items are super discounted and priced to clear – tons of deals well over 50% off. Come see us over the weekend through to Monday, April 25th. We’re open from 11am til 7pm every day. Facebook event here, further details about the store after the jump… Read more

Seen In Vancouver #269: Thoughtful J-Caps For Sale At Gastown’s SHARKS+HAMMERS

Available at SHARKS+HAMMERS from the fine creatives at

Cool Thing We Want #258: Nice And Cold Upside Down Beers At “Sea Monstr Sushi”

Around Christmas I posted a video that was shot at an American sporting event and showed a beer dispensing machine that blew my mind. Why? Because it poured from the bottom to the top instead of the other way around. Unbeknown to me at the time, Mark Brand and Alex Usow at Gastown’s Sea Monstr Sushi had one of the BottomsUp machines on order. With Sea Monstr’s liquor license about to finally drop tomorrow, Brand broke out the machine for an ice cold Sapporo test run this afternoon…

“Sea Monstr Sushi” To Unleash Tentacles Tonight In Gastown


by Andrew Morrison | The much-anticipated Sea Monstr Sushi opens tonight at 6pm in Gastown (55 Powell). The 16 seater from Sharks + Hammers duo Alex Usow and Mark Brand (co-owner of Boneta, The Diamond, Save-On-Meats) will serve sushi by chef Keith Allison – formerly a fixture at Dan on West Broadway (interview). We poked our heads in for their friends and family dry run, and feasted big. The dynamite rolls were the best, made better with a lick of the house blend of hot sauce and a cold brace of Steam Whistle beers. A cool little space. Check it out the photos… Read more

Keith Allison & Mark Brand Dish On Gastown’s Sea Monstr Sushi

Sea Monstr Sushi co-owner Mark Brand introduced the upcoming Gastown restaurant’s newly appointed chef to me the other day in Scout’s office. In quite the coup, he’s hired on Keith Allison, formerly of Ken Oda’s superlative Dan on West Broadway. What is Sea Monstr Sushi? Read more

Sharks + Hammers


54 Alexander Street
Vancouver BC V6A 1E7
Telephone: 604.648.2252
Twitter | Facebook


Key People

Owners: Mark Brand & Alex Usow
WERD (Head of Welcome To East Van division)

About The Business

Welcome to Sharks & Hammers.

We sell a little bit of this and a little bit of that because, why not, and because we can. We sell items that we think you’ll enjoy because we know we enjoy them. Some of the clothing and goods that we sell are products that we make, or that our friends make. We evolve and grow and so does our stock.

So drop in on us, crack some jokes, share stories, listen to music, overhear weird conversations, see employees stare at computers, have some candy, cut through to get to our restaurant (Sea Monstr Sushi) and peruse the variety of wares that we have for sale.

We’ll be happy to see you.