Home Front: Eastside Culture Crawl presents great new talent

The event represents the fresh and innovative talent that the Pacific Northwest is becoming known for.

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Vancouver’s annual Eastside Culture Crawl celebrated its 25th anniversary last month, with crowds lined up outside buildings like the iconic Parker Street studios to see the work of hundreds of designers and artists.

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Postmedia sat down with a designer and an artist who showcased their work on Crawl and represent the fresh and innovative talent that Pacific Northwest is becoming known for.

Evan McDougall founded Conifer Homewares in April 2020 because he wanted to focus on something positive amidst the chaos and uncertainty of the pandemic. He landed on 3D-printed plant pots.

These planters are 3D-printed from plant-based materials (fermented organic by-products from sugar cane and corn starch production). Conifers recycle all residues and printing defects back into raw material, resulting in zero waste, McDougall says.

Product designer Evan McDougall and founder of Conifer Homewares, which makes 3D plant pots.
Product designer Evan McDougall and founder of Conifer Homewares, which makes 3D plant pots. Photo by Conifer Homewares /PNG

Working as an industrial designer for consumer electronics and furniture brands in Canada, the United States and Sweden and witnessing wasteful practices motivated McDougall to found Conifer, he says.

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“This inefficiency was my inspiration to do things differently through Conifer. I hope to demonstrate that with a little hard work and creative thinking, we can do better than the status quo and create a more perfect future for ourselves and the planet.”

Culture Crawl was a great way to show people how 3D printing works. To many people, it is as if these products are popping up out of thin air. Being able to share this revolutionary technology with others has been incredible, McDougall says.

3D printer used by Conifer Homewares to make their plant pots.
3D printer used by Conifer Homewares to make their plant pots. Photo by Conifer Homewares /PNG

Asked about his biggest challenges since launching his brand, McDougall says it has certainly been growing pains.

“What started as a small passion project has gone faster than I was ready for. Softwood quickly grew out of the small solarium in my apartment, which at its peak had 16 3D printers running in it. We are now up to “3D printers running around the clock trying to keep up with demand. I will forever be grateful for the warm reception and incredible support shown by the people of Vancouver and elsewhere,” he said.

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Another standout at Culture Crawl this year was paper artist Tara Lee Bennett.

Paper artist Tara Lee Bennett.  Each piece takes weeks to months to produce.
Paper artist Tara Lee Bennett. Each piece takes weeks to months to produce. Photo by Tara Lee Bennett /PNG

It’s hard to believe that her framed creations are actually made of paper – drawn, cut out, assembled over weeks or months, depending on the size of the piece.

It is no surprise that her work, which sold out at Kulturcrawlet, is popular with those who want to give memorable gifts.

One such piece was recently commissioned by a man who chose a first wedding day gift for his wife. And because paper traditionally marks this occasion, he asked Bennett to recreate his wife’s bridal bouquet.

Before moving to Vancouver 10 years ago, Bennett studied illustration and graphic design in Sydney, Australia, where she is originally from.

Paper Art by Tara Lee Bennett.
Paper Art by Tara Lee Bennett. Photo by Tara Lee Bennett /PNG

“I learned by doing things. I made dolls, costumes, drew a lot of life drawings, worked digitally. I really got to do a lot of things, including working with paper; I think that was where that love first started. ,” she says.

Bennett says she first took the plunge to work full time with her art last year.

“I said, why not? Life is short; art is long. Maybe it’s time to go for it and really commit, and it worked out that way,” she says.

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