Meet the Makers of Parker Street Studio

The historic building is home to artists, woodworkers, painters and...ghosts?

September 26, 2018

By David Kitai / Photo: Carlo Ricci

The artisans of 1000 Parker Street Studios count themselves lucky. They’ve found room to create in the historic building’s warren of cavernous halls and mismatched stairways. More than that, they’ve found a community of eclectic individuals happy to collaborate— and help make a buddy system to deal with any hauntings in the hundred-year-old building.

Pictured left to right:

“There’s a lot of collaboration at Parker Street, especially among the designers and manufacturers. Either somebody’s making a piece and they need furniture or upholstery, or I’m making a piece and I need woodwork or sometimes just doing installations and stuff. We help each other quite a bit; it’s part of the reason I’ve been here for 17 years. You really can’t compare it to anywhere else in the city.”
Mark Cocar, 58, Icon MFG

“I’m a product designer, but I consider what I’m doing as sculpture, except I’m doing items that are maybe more functional. I’ve worked with a number of materials—metals and glass and plastics—but I’ve been trying to incorporate stone into my lighting, like alabaster.”—Randy Zieber, 50

“I have a PhD in pharmacology and toxicology. I was a researcher at UBC, and I had my own meth and coke research lab. I started my artwork as a knitter—I do garments and I also do functional things—and it was the art practice I could carry with me as an academic. I’m interested in making natural fibres that work more like our expectations of synthetics so we can get people to think about using natural fibres in their clothing instead of synthetics.”—Julie Pongrac, 54, Julie Pongrac Studio

“This building is kind of an anomaly. It’s such an old building and it’s unusual in Vancouver to have a space full of artists. I used to work really late. I would sometimes come in after dinner and work into the night, so I have had strange occurrences, like a feeling that maybe somebody else is here. There are tales of that—it’s potentially haunted.”—Naomi Yamamoto, 44, Flightpath Designs

“I make concrete, steel, sculpture art. I used to be in corporate, shirt and tie, and I decided to do a major flip-flop. I’ve always been handy, but I just thought back to high school and my woodworking class and my art class and kind of stepped back to that. It’s a constant learning curve. I get the pleasure of being independent and being free, but it’s as much stress as I had in corporate—it’s just a different type of stress. I’m harder on myself, and everything rests on me.”Steven Pollock, 47

“I’ve always been fascinated with a bag as a vessel. Any kind of bag, whether it’s a cheap thrift store thing or a high-end bag or from MEC, these are the vessels that carry all the objects of our life through our life, through our daily interactions. I’m constantly watching bags on the street, the way people interact with their bags. You watch a lady at the coffee shop pay by interacting with a bag and a wallet or whatever…The way people interact with vessels and the styles has always captured me.”—Lincoln Heller, 43, Fiveleft Leather

“I have a background in sculpture and jewellery. I’ve combined the two where I use an objet trouvé approach. For the last 10 years, I’ve been working with mostly plastics that are either non-recyclable or plastics that I’ve found washed ashore on the Pacific Northwest coast and pairing them with gold or silver. I love that combination of worthy and unworthy.”—Bridget Catchpole, 46, East Van Bower

“I spent a long time working for other creative people, and at a certain point I felt I had to go it alone to do the work I wanted to. I work with metal, and I think it’s a really beautiful medium that doesn’t get its due in some ways. It’s flexible, and it’s strong.”—Henry Norris, 30, New Format Studio

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