Artist and designer Janna Watson has been involved in the festival since 2012. She works as both a painter and a textile designer. This year her textile exhibit Strange Legacy, featuring rugs designed by her grandfather, was a festival highlight. We caught up with her to talk about what inspires her, DesignTO, cat scratchers and more.
How long have you been involved in DesignTO?
I first participated in the festival in 2012 as part of ‘Come Up To My Room.’
What are your favourite things about DesignTO?
DesignTO is the best time of year for community. It’s when other creators come out and there are great opportunities to network. The majority of the Toronto designers that I know, I met during DesignTO.
I remember my grandfather telling me, “I love things harmoniously ugly.” These words have stuck with me throughout my practice.
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
My grandfather was an abstract painter and a rug hooker during the expressionist era, so I grew up around a lot of wonderfully strange colour palettes. He would give me lessons as a child, and always pushed me to be wilder with my abstract work.
Can you tell us a little bit about the similarities or differences between your painted pieces and your textile pieces?
My approach to both is the same, although my rug design has a much more collaborative process. In many ways textile design is more complex since it requires collaborating with other skilled people. My rugs aren’t just about my designs, but also involve the talent of my incredible weavers.
How would you describe your practice?
My practice is really based on the process of intuitively working with colour and space two dimensionally. I remember my grandfather telling me, “I love things harmoniously ugly.” These words have stuck with me throughout my practice.
Do you have any future plans for your work you can share with us?
I’m very excited to be launching a cat scratcher line very soon!
*Images courtesy of the designer.