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Note: Saul Good works with Canadian artist, Ed Juan, to design custom illustrated kitchen linens for our custom gift programs. Ed’s stylized maps capture the spirit and heart of a city or neighbourhood in order to welcome homeowners to their new community.

Ed was the proprietor of the former design studio, Forest and Waves, who produced mugs, towels, notebooks, and other home goods featuring hand-drawn illustrations by Ed.

This is Ed’s story.




Vancouver artist, Ed Juan, found himself at a crossroads in 2018.

He had been operating a successful design business, Forest and Waves, for over 6 years. He had a growing roster of staff and clients and could have spent decades designing mugs, greeting cards, and other home goods.

And then in 2019, he did the unthinkable. He shut down his thriving business.

Now, Ed is searching for his next big project and is looking to redefine his art. We recently interviewed Ed to talk about the greatest challenge of his life, his artwork, and what’s next for the brain behind Forest and Waves.

 

 

What made you start Forest and Waves?

Working in animation studios and for film companies for many years, I moved to Vancouver to start something new 7 years ago. I wanted to start my own business, but I just didn’t know what.

I thought, “I know how to draw, I know how to design, but I’ve never designed products before. So, why don’t I try that?”

Forest and Waves was at first, a side project at craft fairs and trade shows - and it did really well. It proved to me that this business had a future. I went full time at Forest and Waves in 2014, and within 2 years, I had 2 full-time staff, a studio, and was working with other fair trade manufacturers in Taiwan and Mexico.

 

Inside the fair trade manufacturer in Mexico
Photo Credit: Forest and Waves

 

A finished rug
Photo Credit: Forest and Waves


 

What made you move on from Forest and Waves?

In February, I closed my business because I realized my job title had changed. I was more of a business owner than I was an artist or designer. I tried to continue incorporating more art and design work into my days, but it got to the point that I had to make a choice. When I thought about what I loved most, it was the art side of the business. So I decided that in order to move forward in my career as an artist, I would close the business and start a new chapter.

 

Photo Credit: Forest and Waves

 

 

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?

I think there’s a lot to celebrate for having run a successful business. It’s already a badge of honour.

But, I’d say my biggest accomplishment is helping my employees grow in their careers. For example, I had a staff member leave Forest and Waves to move onto another job. He didn’t want to leave, but he said that if it weren’t for my mentorship, and my taking a chance on him, he wouldn’t be able to do what he really wanted to do. He was so hardworking and talented and deserves every accomplishment he has earned. But, having him move onto bigger things made me feel really good - like I helped. I never expected that I could feel so proud of someone else.

With this experience, I learned you can’t buy people’s appreciation. He didn’t leave because he hated the job. He left because he found something better, and he thanked me. We still talk today.

Photo Credit: Forest and Waves

 

 

What has been your greatest challenge?

Owning a business is a challenge. As others can probably tell you, it can feel like the world is against you. People nowadays really glamorize owning a business - but there’s nothing glamorous about it. I will say, I wouldn’t have learned this level of problem-solving if I had been working as a freelancer or as an employee.

My biggest challenge was knowing when to move on from my business. I fought with myself. I would constantly ask, “is it my ego that wants to be in this business? Is this what I want to do? Can I see myself with a future without Forest and Waves?”

How could I know when enough success, failure, happiness, money, etc. was enough?

I closed my business when it was doing well, and that was one of the hardest decisions.

 

The kitchen linens you make for Saul Good tell such a great community story. How do you manage to do this?

Well, it’s always easier if I’ve been to the city I’m depicting.

Typically, I’ll ask my client to give me the dimensions of the drawing they need, the colour they want to work with, and a list of landmarks, historical sites, culture, etc of the place. Once I’ve got the basics, I probe a bit to find out what spirit of the city they’d like to embody in the map.

Pictured: the Mount Pleasant tea towel Ed illustrated for Saul Good's custom gift project with Rize Alliance. The map features the local hot spots of the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood in Vancouver, BC


I like to tell the story beyond the landmark. I can Google a city and find landmarks, restaurants, parks, etc. But what do people do around these parts of the city, and around these landmarks? I feel like it’s the recreation part of it that defines the city more than anything. Like, oh, there’s a farmer’s market? What’s special about it? Oh, the town is famous for selling peaches? I’ll have someone selling peaches. Who are the local people that contribute to the community? With my maps, the more you look, the more you see.

Once I’ve got a sketch, there are a lot of questions I have to ask myself - and my client, in order to make these ideas and sketches come to life.

What does the subject look like? What’s the story my client is trying to tell with this map? How do I accurately represent landmarks while still maintaining my illustration style? How will it work with screen printing? How many colours do I need? How will I create that colour?

Once I establish what my limits are within a project, then I figure out how to create it. Limits actually make it a bit easier.


What does your next chapter look like?

I want to show people something new (if you check out my Instagram, you can see a teaser of my new work). I feel like the maps and things I’ve done in the past is all anybody sees. I’m trying to redefine myself and my art. I can design cards and maps for the rest of my life, but I want to show people what else I can do.

Moving forward, I’m hoping to move from working in film to illustrating for books. I want to create illustrations reminiscent of Richard Scarry. I’m working on my portfolio and will be producing a portfolio book soon. I’ve already done a few manuscript illustrations and most of the topics I’ve picked are biographical. I did one about LMM Montgomery (the author of Anne of Green Gables), and I’m working on another one now.

 

Ed with a new print created for a gallery show in Los Angeles June 2019
Photo Credit: Ed Juan