Last summer on a perfect San Francisco day, we had the opportunity to meet Julia Canright and photograph her home studio. Julia Canright is a bag maker, block printer and SF native, and it was quite clear upon introduction that we really wanted to be her friends. Julia first showed at our San Francisco Fair in July, and we’re thrilled she’s joining us again this weekend!
Where did your business name come from? Is there an interesting history behind?
My business name is just my name which is just a result of my inability to come up with a word or phrase to represent my line. I think it’s good in a way because it allows me some room to evolve and change because it’s just me! – not some other entity with its own limits.
When/Why did you start working in this particular craft?
I did a lot of block printing and painting on paper in school and beyond and I’ve always really loved doing it. I got to a point where I wanted to use the prints I was making to create other things – ideally things that could be useful and practical like a bag. I really like the idea of taking something graphic and thoughtfully made and making it into something you could use everyday.
Have you had any major failures? If so, what were some important insights gained?
I think what I was most worried about when I started doing this was that I wouldn’t be very good at putting myself out there and selling myself. I’m a reserved person and the thought of approaching people and stores with my work was kind of terrifying. But its really like anything, it just takes practice and the more I do it the easier it gets! Also, in general, people are really nice and supportive – and the people who hate your stuff won’t go out of their way to tell you that.
What has been your proudest/favorite moment since creating your business?
I think my favorite part of creating my business besides actually just making things has been meeting and working with great people and stores in the Bay Area. Its inspiring to see really dedicated and creative people doing their thing.
How does the city you live in influence your work?
I grew up in the Mission in San Francisco and the visual culture here is just so strong from murals to stickers on telephone poles to painted store awnings – it all just seeps in – and you just want to contribute to the landscape in whatever small way you can.
What valuable experience/knowledge did you have before starting your business?
From other creative people, I knew going into this that it would require a lot of commitment. Not just the time that you spend doing it, but the time and energy you spend thinking about it – and how that can take over. I think just knowing that helps you to be more aware when its happening.
What made you take this leap into being your own boss?
I’ve never really known what I wanted to do for a living – but I’ve always liked working. Its really satisfying to channel that worker bee energy into something that I love and really matters to me.
What are some inspirations for your work?
I get a lot of inspiration from old textile art that I find in books and online – east African, Russian and early American textile art is really amazing. I also get inspiration from the materials themselves – block printing works really well for certain things and that leads me in particular directions. I’ll also find a new paint brush in a new shape and create something from that.
If you could learn any other craft, what would it be?
Wood carving – I did a little wood carving in high school and it was just so cool. I would love to do more.
When you do get free time, how do you like to spend it?
I like to go up to Bernal or Glenn Park Canyon for walks with my little dog Charlie.
What is your favorite part of your studio/workspace?
My studio has been a work in progress for a while now. I think I’m finally at a point where I have all the tools I need and they all have their place so I can find them easily. My favorite part I think is just having a spot where I feel really productive and comfortable!
Thank you again, Julia for giving us the opportunity to peek into your home studio. Browse the full set of photos on Flickr, and for those of you headed to our San Francisco Fair this weekend, be sure to find this gal and say hello. You should also check her stuff out online here: