Lincoln Heller

i. I work as a: I Consider myself a bag maker. My passion is to create vessels that carry the most personal items of our everyday.

ii. I do this creative work because: At an early age it was apparent that working with my hands would be my future. The five fingers on my left hand have even become the brand FIVELEFT. The leather I use satisfies the kind of work that my hands and mind love to do.

iii. Personal qualities that help me in my work are: Vegetable tanned leather is a special structural material. You have to think about it more like paper than fabric, you can fold it and pinch it to create complex forms. As a child I folded a lot of paper and my fascination with containers and bags has brought together a unique skill set that helped develop Fiveleft’s unique aesthetic.

iv. The greatest challenges around doing this work are: The challenges I have are on the business side. Most of us are blessed with one or two skills in life, I was given a heavy dose of creativity and the social charm. That means, linear thought and calculated strategies are challenging for me.

v. Other creators who inspire you: I am a storyteller. When Fiveleft began producing runway and performance art events I realized there was a stage to create narrative. Gareth Pugh has had a huge influence on the way I see fashion presentation. Laurie Anderson, Marina Abramovic, Alexander McQueen, and John Cage are also gifted at creating a space to communicate complicated messages to their audiences, and have given me so much inspiration. This kind of presentation is even a deeper passion for me than the bags.

vi. Training that has helped me succeed in this career: Emily Carr Institute of Art and Design was a magical place when I was there. I was able to run wild and explore conceptual development through many different mediums. Then I worked as a Prop builder for the film industry, here I learned materials and building techniques that I wouldn’t have been able to learn anywhere else.

vii. A common trap that can hurt people in this career: As I look back I would say that for many makers, the creative high can blind one from the realities of business. If left unchecked, you may go down a road to far, and the creativity can’t be the only float on the boat.

viii. Some proud career moments: The FIVELEFT 10 event was incredible. We celebrated ten years of business by layering on all of the best parts of the business. There was a short film, elaborate leather costumes, a runway event and of coarse, one-of-a-kind bags. Here is a taste:

Also, I have just been nominated for a VFW Fashion Originator Award

ix. If you want to work in my field, I suggest that you: Experiment, experiment, experiment, use social media and the internet sparingly…it has a way of homogenizing creativity.

x. A professional goal I have for the future: I think it is the interaction and building of real community that has been so satisfying. So I am moving away from trying to chase a production oriented model. In the new year we will be introducing some new materials, and collaborations with other gifted people is already in the works for next spring. Arriving at this level of mastery and getting older is proving to be a place where I can branch out and meet challenges that were unattainable before, and slowing down to look closely at the details is bringing new excitement to the practice I have already developed…

xi. If you want to see my work, go to: Lately we have been focusing on where we have been most successful. Face to face and on our website seems to be where we make the most (and best) friends. So over the next few months you can find us in person at FIRST PICK HANDMADE at the Heritage Hall in Vancouver September 15-16, and in our studio for the Eastside Culture Crawl November 15-18.If you are far and away you can shop our website, and never be afraid to make an appointment to come by ask about workshops and custom orders.

Photos Courtesy of FIVE LEFT Leather




Polly Horvath


Susin Nielsen

Elizabeth Newton

Elizabeth Newton