Tell us a bit about yourself.
Hi, my name is Richard Smith. I live in Toronto, where I find or create everything I sell at Finders&Keepers. I love vintage everything and really go out of my way to seek out unique things to suit my everyday needs.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
I drink a LOT of coffee, so much of my social calendar is filled with coffee dates with friends, or even solo. I live right near a gorgeous park downtown which is my favourite place to hang out (and drink coffee). I like to see new and interesting things that other people are doing, and I enjoy meeting creative people, so I spend a lot of time visiting stores. I usually have a book or two on the go. I like to write, though never to any productive purpose, and sometimes I pluck at my guitar. Also, I help run an antique store.
What would be the title of your memoir? Why?
Anyone who knows me knows that I would never write a memoir. I’m awful at telling stories, I have a terrible memory, and I get kind of flummoxed when I have to talk about myself too much.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I’m inspired by details and materials in vintage objects that might otherwise go unused and unappreciated if they weren’t being repurposed. I feel bad sometimes tearing out the guts of a book, but for the most part, the things I use would probably never be used in their original form anyway. I try to incorporate as much original detail into my designs as possible.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade is the way things are meant to be: imperfect and unique. Any handmade item speaks to the resourcefulness of its creator — something that is very much undervalued today.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
I’m influenced by anyone who makes something with their own wits and their own hands. I’m always impressed when I discover that products I love are made by one person, one at a time.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I always had artistic inclinations, which I kind of lost touch with for a number of years, though I always kept writing or sketching. Only in the last year and a half or so, when I taught myself to sew, did I start to get excited and serious about it again.
How would you describe your creative process?
My creative process is mostly fuelled by the things around me, and by my own needs, so basically I just make things that I want to use. Once I’ve decided on something I want to make, I spend a lot of time sitting on the floor with my materials spread out around me. Easily 80% of my “creative/design” time is spent staring vacantly at the wall while I try to figure out all the little elements that have to be considered before I actually start sewing or putting something together.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
No one in particular comes to mind, though I am VERY much interested in peeking inside artists’ studios, which I guess is why I like things like The Selby or Closet Visit so much. I love seeing the things that people use every day, and while I am interested in their art and their processes, I’m even more curious to know what kind of coffee mug they use, or what their notebook looks like. I love to see pictures of artists’ spaces without the consciousness of having prepared for a photoshoot.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
Two of the things I proudly use literally every day are my recycled military duffle tote and my notebook, both of which I made myself and which are very dear to me.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Coffee. And cigarettes. And thrift shopping.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
Designing and making things full time. In an abandoned warehouse.