i make things: About Ian

I spend an inordinate amount of time trying to define what it is I actually do. Trying to wrap it up neatly in a word or two is difficult. Industrial designer is the current favored short form, if you ask me. But I’m always amused and often flattered by how others introduce me – designer, craftsman, artist, maker, builder – usually coupled with an adjective or superlative. I’m O.K. others describing me as an artist, but I’m not as comfortable describing myself as such – to me, it’s like declaring “I’m cool” or “I’m smart”.

Mostly, I am well known for the signage I create for Toronto and area businesses, rendering their logo or name into a three dimensional object which often lights up and withstands Canada’s harsh climate. I fell into this role by chance, responding that could create a better sign for less money for a friend who was opening his first restaurant. He took me up on it, and I have been making signs since. What was a hobby has grown into my full time job – and is rapidly growing beyond that.

I make all kind of things and solve all kinds of problems. I make housewares, lighting, furniture and fix or find solutions to the problems that present themselves to businesses. I consult on bar and restaurant design, lighting and workflow. I’ve been paid to dampen the sound in a noisy restaurant, make stainless steel handrails, built point of purchase displays, install window displays and style retail displays. It turns out people and businesses have a lot of problems and needs, and they don’t know where to turn. Because I not only propose a solution, but have the means and the ability to fabricate it, I find myself quite busy.

For me the most satisfying part of all of this is when I get to fabricate my own designs. Because of the cost involved in building limited edition pieces and one-offs, I don’t get to do as much of it as I would like. The commissioned work has to come first to pay the bills. I have established a few products sell them in stores in Los Angeles, Brooklyn and Toronto. This is the direction I am pushing towards, and my success with products like lighting and homewares has been encouraging.

Recently, I have been working with a local lighting manufacturer on producing line of lighting for two Toronto retailers. Stay tuned!

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