Ever wonder who created the artwork hanging in your coffee shop? I do! So when Milano’s, (my favorite coffee shop in the West End), decided to put art on their wall’s I decided I wanted to know more about this artist. The collection on display was very Vancouver. I began to make assumptions, starting with one that made me think this must be a born and bred Vancouverite. The art was very ‘Vancouver’, clean, crisp, sharp ink lines, featuring prominent landmarks from an intimate point of view, such as the park or an alley.
Elaine was gracious enough to meet with me in south Vancouver, where she is currently residing. It turns out she is Irish! She moved to Vancouver almost ten years ago on a one year work holiday visa, fell in love with the city, and decided to stay. We discussed how she got into architectural illustration. She mentioned growing up in school and always the best in all her art classes. So when it came time to graduate and choose a career she sought out a practical and responsible career where she could continue to draw. She decided on architecture and worked in the field 15 years. Elaine saw the benefit of her career choice, but it wasn’t giving her the satisfaction she used to get when she would draw. That liberating and connected experience she used to get with her art. So she walked away.
We met in a café in South Vancouver, where she is currently residing. She lived and worked in the West End for many years and now considers it her second home as many of her friends and favorite destinations are here. She works several jobs now that give her the feeling she was looking for. She teaches drawing classes for children, does odd jobs and sells her artwork online and in cafes. This gives her a deeper connection to her art and those around her. Elaine described how the low rental vacancy rate and high rental costs in the West End made it very difficult for her to stay in the neighborhood and work as an artist. Currently, she is exploring ways to connect and contribute to her community through art.
The love for architecture is still there. The inspiration found in a beautifully built building with all of its intricate details that speak to the craftsmanship of the trade, the time it took to build, the considerations in the design, it’s significance over time and the community contributions of the people that walk through its corridors. She preserves this feeling in her illustrations and hopes people can look at these awe-inspiring edifice in order to create that same feeling in the architectural design of the future.