Tanya Streeter Wilson is an artist and gallery owner in Nanaimo, BC. Her friendly and colourful shop is called Artzi Stuff. I have known Tanya for at least five years now and she has kindly begun selling my paintings in her shop. We spend a lot of time talking during my quick visits into Artzi Stuff but never get the chance to REALLY talk so I decided to interview her instead. I hope you enjoy reading about Tanya, her work, and Artzi Stuff.
1. Tanya, you own and run Artzi Stuff (Artzi Stuff) When did you first open on Wesley Street?
I opened in October 2008. Prior to that for 12 years I operated as a home based business creating hand printed and dyed silk scarves, T-shirts, cushions and other fabric things which I sold in other stores.
2. You make beautiful scarves, t-shirts, and mixed media works. Tell us a little about your art making history. Who influenced you to follow your career path?
First I went to school for languages then after two years I realized I would probably not get a job that way since lots of people speak French and other languages. At that time I also took a class in Art History. I was always interested in fashion and interior decorating but i don't think I knew much about art. I took the next year or two off from school and then discovered the Textile Arts diploma at Capilano College and knew that would be a good fit for me. When i graduated I moved to Nanaimo because my boyfriend and out jointly owned live-aboard sailboat were there. I set up a workspace in my grandmother's basement and opened the Artzi Stuff Textile Arts Studio.
3. Who influenced you to follow your career path when you first started? Now?
No idea. I am just carving my own path.
4. I know you do some of your work at the shop. Where do you do your dying and printmaking?
Now I am living in a house with a basement and have my 5 X 16 foot printing table set up there. I use a laundry tub for dyeing. Soon I will have to move and may be working at a kitchen table and have to move the printing table back to my mom's house.
5. If you could visit with any female artist from the past who would you choose and why?
Georgia O'Keefe seems like an interesting, independant woman. Fridha Kahlo, Louise Nevelson as well. I think I would choose based on their personalities rather than art work. Unfortunately we don't learn as much about women artists so even if i know their name and work I may not know anything about their lives.
6. You ride a motorcycle. How long have you been riding your bike? Where have you travelled on your bike?
I have ridden a motorbike for 8 years. I was so proud of myself for actually getting my license and getting out there. I have only ridden on the island from Qualicum to Duncan. After I started to build some confidence my husband was hit while on his motorbike and suffered life altering injuries and long hospital stays so i am not interested in going on the highway. Mostly I stick to country roads with little traffic and sight see.
7. If money was of no concern where would you like to travel? Why?
I love Europe because of the history that I can relate to. I have already been to Spain, Italy, France, Holland, Sweden and Denmark and would love to return to those places because my stays were brief. New York for the art galleries and contemporary culture. I don't like high heat so that rules out a number of places.
8. What coloured scarves do you sell the most? T-shirts?
It's easier to say yellow and orange are the least popular. Variations of teal and turquoise were popular the past year.
9. Your shop is moving. Do you have an opening date? Anything special planned?
I will open in the last days of Sept. or first few days of October. I will be open in the current location for September while fixing up the new location in the evenings.
10. Is there anything I've missed or that you'd like to add?
I opened my store because I knew there were so many great artists that did not have enough venues to sell at. I kept waiting for a great store to open in Nanaimo where I could sell my work. Finally I gave up waiting and decided to do it myself. Despite the difficulties of running such a business in a small city I keep at it because I really want to provide income for my artists and to provide a well made thoughtfully made product to the public. I just can't accept that this concept could fail so I keep at it until the public catches on.
309 B Wesley Street
250 716 8989
Thank you so much for talking with me Tanya. As you know I own a few of your scarves and just bought my husband a blue t-shirt you printed with trees and a crow (which he happily wears....did I mention often, like at least twice or three a week, more if he could, but it does need to get washed!)
Thank you Tanya for running such an inspiring shop. You are an amazing female artist/business owner. I am very grateful to have my paintings hanging in your gallery.
So dear blogger friends, if you ever get the chance to come to Nanaimo, Artzi Stuff needs to be on your list of MUSTS!
Happy weekend to you all! I'm going to watch the BC Lions play in Vancouver. Go Lions Go!