People

Dan Emery

i. I work as a Lighting Product Designer/Maker, manufacturing refined industrial table lamps, sconce and pendant lights in small batches, locally at my studio in East Vancouver. Company name is East Van Light.

ii. I do this creative work because:
Nothing is more exciting and fulfilling than figuring out how to turn my burning creative ideas into tangible realities.

iii. Personal qualities that help me in my work are:
Being enthused and unafraid to try new things is my greatest driver to having started this work in the first place, and for keeping it going all these years later!  And certainly being patient, diligent, and caring about the well-being and happiness of others is paramount to my process of designing and building lighting products that people will love and appreciate for a long time after they’ve brought them home.

iv. The greatest challenges around doing this work are:
Small businesses are often one man shows, and mine is no exception!  It would be so wonderful if my days could be spent exclusively in the studio making lights!  But the reality is that as my business grows, the more and more focus I have to put into all of the back end stuff that keeps it moving – production planning, materials sourcing, accounting, administration, marketing, social media, logistics of show planning, website upkeep, packing/shipping orders and on and on.  Some days I don’t even have the chance to put my hands on my tools for all of the running around I have do, and most certainly there are never enough hours in the day to get it all done!

v. Creative childhood hobbies:
As a young lad I was a LEGO Master, and would always throw away the instructions in favour of combining all the pieces into a giant pile and building my own creations.  And for a while I was a budding Magician and performed shows for other neighbourhood kids at their birthday parties!  Go ahead… pick a card, any card!

vi. Other creators who inspire you:
Wow, this one is so hard to answer because after 4+ years of actively working in the Vancouver Maker community, I have met SO MANY rad people, from so many different areas/disciplines, and frankly I find all of them very inspiring! They all share a common goal of enthusiastically pursuing their creative endeavours, putting out great work, and in my experience have all been overwhelmingly generous in their desire and willingness to help one another out, collaborate and do great work together.  From that larger community standpoint, this is where a lot of my inspiration, motivation and enthusiasm is drawn from.

vii. Training that has helped me in this career:
Previous to moving to Vancouver, I grew up in Montreal, where for a period of 10 years I was buying and flipping properties – gutting old buildings down to the beams and rebuilding them into vibrant new spaces.  I knew NOTHING about renovations, especially at that larger scale, but built up my skills by just diving in and figuring it all out.  My favourite parts of reno/building was the carpentry and learning how to rewire the homes from the ground up and install all of the plugs, switches and lights.  Building lighting products was something that I stumbled upon entirely by accident because it was a fun way to combine carpentry and electrical into a fun little hobby outside of flipping homes!

viii. A common trap that can hurt people in this career:
Setting one’s expectations too high can be an absolute killer, and can so easily lead to giving up.  One of the hardest parts of being a designer/creator and running your own business is that often there are not instant rewards for the hard work that you do.  It can be so discouraging to put lots of effort into something, and not get to enjoy the satisfaction of your desired response.

Posting images on Instagram doesn’t mean you’ll get “likes”, or that people will buy your stuff.  Having a nice display at a market or design show does not mean you will land the big sale, and spending weeks or months designing and building prototypes of your great new idea does not mean that people will immediately respond to it.

In my experience, building an engaged audience around my work, and building networks and support systems in the community has taken a lot of dedicated time and effort, and the rewards of that work only come slowly over time.  I’m almost 5 years in and it still often feels like I’m just getting started.  It’s a long road, and I have found it very helpful to not let my expectations get to wildly ahead of me, and to always appreciate small victories as BIG wins in order to keep my motivation strong.

ix. Some proud career moments:
2 years ago I left my full time job in order to pursue East Van Light full time.  Previous to that, it was a business that I was growing on the sidelines of my career in film and television production.  I never imagined when I built that first crude bedside lamp for myself years earlier, that so many people would take interest in the work that I was doing, and be so willing to support it.  I certainly never imagined that it would develop into a such an exciting full time project!

Also, a few years back I had to stop all of my operations and production for about 6 months while I navigated the complex world of electrical product certifications.  It was a choice that I made in order to redesign my products from the inside to make them compliant with current electrical safety standards for commercial and residential products.  Electrical certifications, and the agencies that govern them, are very challenging to figure out – and pricey too – but going through the process has allowed me to design and build better and safer lighting products that I can stand behind with confidence.

 

x. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you:
not be afraid to make mistakes.  And this has little to do with my field, and is more a comment about pursuing work that you are passionate about.  I find that my greatest accomplishments have all come on the tail of making a lot of mistakes.  Mistakes are not failures if you are willing to learn from them and let them guide you on your next steps.  And be patient… very very patient, because it often feels like little is changing day to day, but it’s in the long game and the bigger picture where you can really start to see the rewards of all your hard work.

xi. A professional goal I have for the future:
Outside of lighting design, and my own creative/entrepreneurial pursuits, I would like to one day free up more of my time to work in a capacity that directly gives back to my community, and to those who are in need.  I feel the most fulfilled and rewarded when I am able to lend a hand, and help others out.  One of my goals for 2020 is to find a way to begin giving back through my small business, even if it’s just small steps to start, because if I’ve learned anything through all of this work, it’s that you just need to start taking steps if you want to start building momentum, and that is the best way to make things happen.

xii. If you want to see my work, go to:
I will be showcasing my collection next at First Pick Handmade Home Decor

Oct 19+20 at Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street Vancouver BC

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