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QUINTE ARTS COUNCIL
For our newest Umbrella magazine, Quinte Arts Council dedicated the winter issue to celebrating the art of craftsmanship and how the lines between the two often blur in innovative and exciting ways. . We’ve profiled 12 artisans from Quinte who express their art through their craft; the tenth in this series is Paul Epp in Picton.
It was the late 1960s and 18-year-old Paul Epp had a store in Toronto’s Yorkville neighborhood. He was buying things from wholesalers and trying to sell them. Then he had the idea, it would sell but couldn’t find it anywhere, so he sketched it out and had it done. “I was very, very subconsciously involved in making things up,” Epp says. “I ended up hating being a storekeeper, but I liked this activity which consisted in having things made. So I became a designer without even knowing what design was.
Epp grew up in rural Alberta where there were no art classes or talk about art and design, and only a limited idea of what an artist was, like a painter. landscaper. A year into his store experience, faced with the prospect of another job he hated, he asked himself, “What would make my life better? He remembered when he was making things and thought, “Maybe I could keep doing this. So I researched it and realized there was a category of profession called design and there were schools for it. I thought I had just won the lottery.
App attended Sheridan College School of Design (pictured from a school project, 1972), where there was “a strong feeling that you should do what you designed”, he says. “I thought if I could do what I design, the more I know about making, the better a designer I’d be.” He chose furniture, mainly because he liked the scale, and a lot of the furniture was wood: “My involvement with wood came, in a way, almost by accident.” He adds: “I love [wood’s] warmth, feel, smell, complex coloring and silhouette, and that it comes from trees, which I really appreciate.
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Asked about the influence of 20th century Scandinavian design on his work, he says: “Scandinavia has developed a very, very good lexicon of how to use wood in what way, which I was not aware of and which immediately won me over.
After graduating, he spent a year in Stockholm, Sweden as a private student of James Krenov, master cabinetmaker, before returning to Canada to work as a furniture designer.
From those early days, Epp has been a professional designer in many fields: furniture, product, exhibits, interiors, marine, graphics, sculpture, as well as production, one-of-a-kind manufacturing, and as a teacher. He also worked as a craftsman. When asked if he has a preference, he replies: “It’s similar but it’s not the same thing. When I do things myself, I feel like there’s more of me in it… There’s something about this activity that gives you the opportunity to be present in what you’re doing. a different way than in a more distant design process.
For more information visit paulepp.com