February 27, 2014
F.T.L.O.I. Video with Garren Dakessian

February 27, 2014
“I could not imagine doing anything else. I get to build awesome guitars that make incredible music.”
Name: Garren DakessianLocation: Oakville, Ontario, CanadaOccupation: Guitar Maker
Loucin Guitars was officially opened in September 2002 by owner Garren Dakessian.
Garren was born in New Zealand & moved to Toronto, Canada in 1969. He moved to Oakville, Ontario in 1980, where Loucin Guitars is now located.
He started building electric guitars at age 15, after he met with the legendary owner of the Twelfth Fret in Toronto. That afternoon of discussion about guitar construction and craftsmanship gave Garren the confidence to build his first guitar, which he did in grade 10 wood-shop, with a little help from his ultra- cool wood shop teacher Mr. Jim MacMillan at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, Ontario.
As Garren says, “I wanted to build guitars my way.” He has been making custom hand-made acoustic guitars for almost twelve years now. His cites his biggest influence as being Eddie Van Halen. He saw that Eddie made his own guitars out of parts and thought, ” I can do this too.” His late mother Loucin always told Garren to follow his dreams and so he did.
When you take money out of the equation and do what your passion is, success is guaranteed to follow as there is no better success then actually loving what you do. Garren never wanted to work for someone else. He wanted the creative freedom to design and handcrafted the guitars as he imagined them.
“My guitars are very light and responsive because they are hand-made,” says Garren. “There are no “made on Monday” guitars here. So much passion goes into each guitar. I also have uniques such as my “SLANT” arm-rest.”
Garren has been incredibly fortunate to have some absolutely amazing clients, both professional and hobbyist. The list started with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Phil X (Bon Jovi), Jason Hook (Five Finger Death Punch), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy & Black Label Society), Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest) & recently Sammy Hagar (Van Halen & Chickenfoot). He is hopeful to soon begin working with Ben Harper, Kim Mitchell & Sarah McLaughlin in 2014.
Loucin Guitars also has a Guitar Building School www.buildaguitar.ca where students learn how to build a guitar and get to leave the class with a guitar they have built. The best part of the last 10 years is that so many more artists are performing and recording “unplugged” acoustic guitars.
The only advice he has for musicians and guitar makers is to out & meet people face to face, talk to them, listen to them and don’t expect things to happen overnight.

For more information on Loucin Guitars please visit www.loucinguitars.com.
Check out the Video Companion to this blog post on my youtube channel HERE

“I could not imagine doing anything else. I get to build awesome guitars that make incredible music.”

Name: Garren Dakessian
Location: Oakville, Ontario, Canada
Occupation: Guitar Maker

Loucin Guitars was officially opened in September 2002 by owner Garren Dakessian.

Garren was born in New Zealand & moved to Toronto, Canada in 1969. He moved to Oakville, Ontario in 1980, where Loucin Guitars is now located.

He started building electric guitars at age 15, after he met with the legendary owner of the Twelfth Fret in Toronto. That afternoon of discussion about guitar construction and craftsmanship gave Garren the confidence to build his first guitar, which he did in grade 10 wood-shop, with a little help from his ultra- cool wood shop teacher Mr. Jim MacMillan at White Oaks Secondary School in Oakville, Ontario.

As Garren says, “I wanted to build guitars my way.” He has been making custom hand-made acoustic guitars for almost twelve years now. His cites his biggest influence as being Eddie Van Halen. He saw that Eddie made his own guitars out of parts and thought, ” I can do this too.” His late mother Loucin always told Garren to follow his dreams and so he did.

When you take money out of the equation and do what your passion is, success is guaranteed to follow as there is no better success then actually loving what you do. Garren never wanted to work for someone else. He wanted the creative freedom to design and handcrafted the guitars as he imagined them.

“My guitars are very light and responsive because they are hand-made,” says Garren. “There are no “made on Monday” guitars here. So much passion goes into each guitar. I also have uniques such as my “SLANT” arm-rest.”

Garren has been incredibly fortunate to have some absolutely amazing clients, both professional and hobbyist. The list started with Serj Tankian (System of a Down), Phil X (Bon Jovi), Jason Hook (Five Finger Death Punch), Zakk Wylde (Ozzy & Black Label Society), Richie Faulkner (Judas Priest) & recently Sammy Hagar (Van Halen & Chickenfoot). He is hopeful to soon begin working with Ben Harper, Kim Mitchell & Sarah McLaughlin in 2014.

Loucin Guitars also has a Guitar Building School www.buildaguitar.ca where students learn how to build a guitar and get to leave the class with a guitar they have built. The best part of the last 10 years is that so many more artists are performing and recording “unplugged” acoustic guitars.

The only advice he has for musicians and guitar makers is to out & meet people face to face, talk to them, listen to them and don’t expect things to happen overnight.

For more information on Loucin Guitars please visit www.loucinguitars.com.

Check out the Video Companion to this blog post on my youtube channel HERE

January 11, 2014
“I make patterns that are meaningful.”
Name: Jenna FenwickLocation: Lanark HighlandsOccupation: Textile Designer 
Jenna Fenwick comes from a long line of seamstresses and quilters. In high school she sewed her own clothes and thought about a career in fashion. When she started working in her Mom’s quilt shop, she was introduced to fiber art and gained an interest in fabric patterns, and knew she wanted to combine her love for drawing with her new love for textiles. 
In her last year at NSCAD University she worked on projects where she could illustrate the design, screen print them into the cloth and create a beautiful finished piece, and she knew she found her passion. After graduation she started Jenna Rose which she opened in Guelph and later moved to Hamilton. 
Jenna still illustrates her own patterns by hand, whether it’s a treehouse she remembers or something simple that inspires her on a walk outside her studio on the farm she and her husband bought in eastern Ontario last year. She then mixes the colours and hand screen prints the cloth. “I love the tactile nature of textiles and the functionality,” said Jenna. “But it’s also finding the inspiration in daily life and having a customer connect with the patterns I find meaningful.”

The tranquility of the studio has given Jenna a renewed sense of focus. With the gardens her and her husband already use to grow food, Jenna plans to take her creativity to the next level and start growing her own dyes. For Jenna it only makes sense to follow her passion to create truly handmade and sustainable textiles.
 

“I make patterns that are meaningful.”

Name: Jenna Fenwick
Location: Lanark Highlands
Occupation: Textile Designer 

Jenna Fenwick comes from a long line of seamstresses and quilters. In high school she sewed her own clothes and thought about a career in fashion. When she started working in her Mom’s quilt shop, she was introduced to fiber art and gained an interest in fabric patterns, and knew she wanted to combine her love for drawing with her new love for textiles. 

In her last year at NSCAD University she worked on projects where she could illustrate the design, screen print them into the cloth and create a beautiful finished piece, and she knew she found her passion. After graduation she started Jenna Rose which she opened in Guelph and later moved to Hamilton. 

Jenna still illustrates her own patterns by hand, whether it’s a treehouse she remembers or something simple that inspires her on a walk outside her studio on the farm she and her husband bought in eastern Ontario last year. She then mixes the colours and hand screen prints the cloth. “I love the tactile nature of textiles and the functionality,” said Jenna. “But it’s also finding the inspiration in daily life and having a customer connect with the patterns I find meaningful.”

The tranquility of the studio has given Jenna a renewed sense of focus. With the gardens her and her husband already use to grow food, Jenna plans to take her creativity to the next level and start growing her own dyes. For Jenna it only makes sense to follow her passion to create truly handmade and sustainable textiles.

 

October 9, 2013
For The Love Of It Marek Mikunda

October 8, 2013
“Be determined, pay attention to detail and respect tradition.”
Name: Marek MikundaLocation: Toronto, OntarioOccupation: Brewmaster, Steam Whistle Brewing
Marek’s love for brewing started at a young age in the Czech Republic. He always knew he wanted to be a brewmaster so he started at a brewing technical school at just 15. By 18, he had brewed his first beer at a brew house in Prague. The challenge was to make sure that the process was perfect, otherwise, the next batch wouldn’t be very good. 

Marek travelled the world before he settled in Canada in 2000. Five years later he joined Steam Whistle. Because Steam Whistle focuses on brewing one kind of beer instead of offering variety like the other brewers, they are steadfast in a focus on quality instead. With respect for the traditional methods instead of cost-cutting or wild experimentation, Marek can focus on delivering consistently great beer.

His passion for beer comes from the heart. “You need to put a lot of dedication in to beer,” says Marek. “Otherwise you won’t have a great product.”

You may think that brewing one kind of beer, a Pilsner, would make the job repetitive doing batch after batch of the same type of beer. But it’s not at all – it’s incredibly challenging. When dealing with yeast, malt, hopes and people, every day is different. Just as people have different moods, yeast can also randomly decide to work slower. 

Marek’s where he is so that he can be challenged and successful in resolving those challenges. That’s what grabbed his heart about this occupation and it’s why he can’t see doing anything else but being a brewmaster for the next 20 years.

“Be determined, pay attention to detail and respect tradition.”

Name: Marek Mikunda
Location: Toronto, Ontario
Occupation: Brewmaster, Steam Whistle Brewing

Marek’s love for brewing started at a young age in the Czech Republic. He always knew he wanted to be a brewmaster so he started at a brewing technical school at just 15. By 18, he had brewed his first beer at a brew house in Prague. The challenge was to make sure that the process was perfect, otherwise, the next batch wouldn’t be very good. 

Marek travelled the world before he settled in Canada in 2000. Five years later he joined Steam Whistle. Because Steam Whistle focuses on brewing one kind of beer instead of offering variety like the other brewers, they are steadfast in a focus on quality instead. With respect for the traditional methods instead of cost-cutting or wild experimentation, Marek can focus on delivering consistently great beer.

His passion for beer comes from the heart. “You need to put a lot of dedication in to beer,” says Marek. “Otherwise you won’t have a great product.”

You may think that brewing one kind of beer, a Pilsner, would make the job repetitive doing batch after batch of the same type of beer. But it’s not at all – it’s incredibly challenging. When dealing with yeast, malt, hopes and people, every day is different. Just as people have different moods, yeast can also randomly decide to work slower. 

Marek’s where he is so that he can be challenged and successful in resolving those challenges. That’s what grabbed his heart about this occupation and it’s why he can’t see doing anything else but being a brewmaster for the next 20 years.

July 23, 2013
“It’s lovely to feel physically exhausted at the end of every day.”
Name: Vincent PerezLocation: Kingston, OntarioOccupation: Pressman and Designer
The artisan in Vincent Perez sacrifices the easier, more modern digital press for the art of mid-century analog printing. He says it’s all about friction. Take social media as a modern medium for an example. It’s most successful when the platform demands the least of its user and therefore less friction. The challenge of the mid-century press and the physicality of its use entail friction ensuring hard work and a rewarding feeling alongside a tangible result.
There’s craftsmanship involved in using an old letterpress. Experimentation too – the digital press is too advanced to allow for that. There’s individuality to the final piece unachievable with a mass production press.
Vincent loves the holistic production. As a designer, he controls production from design to printing to distribution. Most designers simply email or FTP their design files to the printer and receive a sample at the end. But Vincent gets the satisfaction of combining manual labour and creativity to produce a beautiful, unique printed piece. 
It all started with an art project. Vincent received scraps from a printer to make books, and during that journey he realized that he wanted an education in design. While at NSCAD in Halifax, Vincent wiggled his way into Dawson Printing – a teaching print shop at Dalhousie. And his collection of old presses began as did his knowledge and experience.
A true collaborator, Vincent now works with his own clients to develop high-end designs and printed pieces in his own shop, Everlovin’ Press. “There are times when clients want me to do things I never intended, and I always have to think about being in a business to do what I love, and making a living. But my mentors taught me to always remember why I started this business and to always guide myself that way.” It’s led to Vincent’s version of success – the physical satisfaction of hard work, while servicing customers invested in the final piece of art.
 
Photography: Jonathan Bielaski www.jonathanbielaski.comWords: Jodi Szimanski

“It’s lovely to feel physically exhausted at the end of every day.”

Name: Vincent Perez
Location: Kingston, Ontario
Occupation: Pressman and Designer

The artisan in Vincent Perez sacrifices the easier, more modern digital press for the art of mid-century analog printing. He says it’s all about friction. Take social media as a modern medium for an example. It’s most successful when the platform demands the least of its user and therefore less friction. The challenge of the mid-century press and the physicality of its use entail friction ensuring hard work and a rewarding feeling alongside a tangible result.

There’s craftsmanship involved in using an old letterpress. Experimentation too – the digital press is too advanced to allow for that. There’s individuality to the final piece unachievable with a mass production press.

Vincent loves the holistic production. As a designer, he controls production from design to printing to distribution. Most designers simply email or FTP their design files to the printer and receive a sample at the end. But Vincent gets the satisfaction of combining manual labour and creativity to produce a beautiful, unique printed piece. 

It all started with an art project. Vincent received scraps from a printer to make books, and during that journey he realized that he wanted an education in design. While at NSCAD in Halifax, Vincent wiggled his way into Dawson Printing – a teaching print shop at Dalhousie. And his collection of old presses began as did his knowledge and experience.

A true collaborator, Vincent now works with his own clients to develop high-end designs and printed pieces in his own shop, Everlovin’ Press. “There are times when clients want me to do things I never intended, and I always have to think about being in a business to do what I love, and making a living. But my mentors taught me to always remember why I started this business and to always guide myself that way.” It’s led to Vincent’s version of success – the physical satisfaction of hard work, while servicing customers invested in the final piece of art.

 

Photography: Jonathan Bielaski www.jonathanbielaski.com
Words: Jodi Szimanski

June 6, 2013
“Music is all or nothing, and I’ve decided to make it my all.”
Name: Hugo PinedaLocation: Cambridge, OntarioOccupation: Music & Event Producer
The foundation of everything Hugo does is music. Growing up, Hugo Pineda played in a band with family members and others from church across Ontario. But Hugo found himself moving towards the production of music instead of the actual playing. In high school, he took a co-op placement at Angus Audio in Cambridge to learn more about the business.
After high school, Hugo gave the business world a try, though never forgot his musical roots. Through retail and finance positions, Hugo developed his business sense and a strong network. He decided that he missed music and versatility of the world around it, so while his brother was building his career as a musician, Hugo decided it was time to return to the music world and manage his brother. From there, a business grew and it went beyond producing music.
Everything Hugo did as part of the company – 586 Event Group – still related to music. From providing entertainment at weddings to football championships, Hugo puts on a show to make clients` events a success. It means never being bored and interacting with new clients all the time. The randomness of their schedule is as inspiring as the music they play.
Photography: Jonathan BielaskiWords: Jodi Szimanski

“Music is all or nothing, and I’ve decided to make it my all.”

Name: Hugo Pineda
Location: Cambridge, Ontario

Occupation: Music & Event Producer

The foundation of everything Hugo does is music. Growing up, Hugo Pineda played in a band with family members and others from church across Ontario. But Hugo found himself moving towards the production of music instead of the actual playing. In high school, he took a co-op placement at Angus Audio in Cambridge to learn more about the business.

After high school, Hugo gave the business world a try, though never forgot his musical roots. Through retail and finance positions, Hugo developed his business sense and a strong network. He decided that he missed music and versatility of the world around it, so while his brother was building his career as a musician, Hugo decided it was time to return to the music world and manage his brother. From there, a business grew and it went beyond producing music.

Everything Hugo did as part of the company – 586 Event Group – still related to music. From providing entertainment at weddings to football championships, Hugo puts on a show to make clients` events a success. It means never being bored and interacting with new clients all the time. The randomness of their schedule is as inspiring as the music they play.

Photography: Jonathan Bielaski
Words: Jodi Szimanski

May 9, 2013
“I try to tell a story.”
Name: Daniel Callan Location: Long Sault, OntarioOccupation: Taxidermist
Animals have always fascinated Daniel Callan. He had all kinds of animals growing up. When he was 14, he favourite pigeon died and Daniel went to visit a taxidermist. After asking a lot of questions the taxidermist told him to come back on Saturday and he’d show him what to do. 
After that, Daniel studied animal anatomy, went through reference photographs and practiced – a lot. By 1995, Daniel joined the Canadian Taxidermy Association and started entering competitions. He competed against the score sheet letting the deductions tell him what he needed to improve.
After seven years, Daniel had moved from the Novice division, through Professional, to Masters to the division of Excellence in every category but three. His best score: 97/100 for an African lion in 2006 that won best in show. Daniel used the competitions to get better and learn. He practiced taxidermy because he loved animals and strove for perfection. It takes research. Daniel doesn’t just mount animals – he builds scenes with movement and hints of their habitat – he tells a story. 
Seven years ago, taxidermy became more than just a hobby. After the paper mill in Cornwall closed, Daniel was left without work, so he started Callan’s Artistic Taxidermy. This year was his best year yet. He enjoys that his many customers respect the animals enough to mount them and is honoured that they choose him to do the work. He wants every one of them to say “Wow!” and relive the hunt. As Daniel says, “I get to tell a story,” and every day he gets the chance to be close to something he has been fascinated with his whole life – animals. 
 
Photography: Jonathan BielaskiWords: Jodi Szimanski

“I try to tell a story.”

Name: Daniel Callan
Location: Long Sault, Ontario

Occupation: Taxidermist

Animals have always fascinated Daniel Callan. He had all kinds of animals growing up. When he was 14, he favourite pigeon died and Daniel went to visit a taxidermist. After asking a lot of questions the taxidermist told him to come back on Saturday and he’d show him what to do. 

After that, Daniel studied animal anatomy, went through reference photographs and practiced – a lot. By 1995, Daniel joined the Canadian Taxidermy Association and started entering competitions. He competed against the score sheet letting the deductions tell him what he needed to improve.

After seven years, Daniel had moved from the Novice division, through Professional, to Masters to the division of Excellence in every category but three. His best score: 97/100 for an African lion in 2006 that won best in show. Daniel used the competitions to get better and learn. He practiced taxidermy because he loved animals and strove for perfection. It takes research. Daniel doesn’t just mount animals – he builds scenes with movement and hints of their habitat – he tells a story. 

Seven years ago, taxidermy became more than just a hobby. After the paper mill in Cornwall closed, Daniel was left without work, so he started Callan’s Artistic Taxidermy. This year was his best year yet. He enjoys that his many customers respect the animals enough to mount them and is honoured that they choose him to do the work. He wants every one of them to say “Wow!” and relive the hunt. As Daniel says, “I get to tell a story,” and every day he gets the chance to be close to something he has been fascinated with his whole life – animals. 

 

Photography: Jonathan Bielaski
Words: Jodi Szimanski

April 10, 2013
“If you’re going to build something, build it right.”
Name: Stephen Milton Location: King City, OntarioOccupation: Master Gunsmith
Stephen Milton is pretty sure his parents thought he was a proper nuisance as a child. He always took anything mechanical apart to figure out how it worked.  Before he put it back together he would always make at least one adjustment to improve it. Besides fiddling with mechanical things, Stephen drew, painted and had a passion for shooting.  Growing up in the U.K. countryside, he often hunted birds and rabbits.  He was also fascinated with the inner workings of fine shotguns and rifles. 
His appreciation for art led Stephen to admire the beauty of fine shotguns and rifles.  As a mechanical engineering apprentice, he amazed many of his mentors with how quickly he could solve problems.  But Stephen missed working with guns, so he took a five-year apprenticeship with a gunsmith and eventually decided to branch out on his own as a freelancer. 
He made parts and repaired shotguns and double-barrel rifles for established companies before he emigrated to Canada to start his own business, Precision Arms & Gunsmithing Ltd.  His quality craftsmanship quickly earned him customers. There’s fine detail in every piece that Stephen uses to build the guns – there’s no “close enough” – everything must be precise down to the moisture content in the wood.
It doesn’t stop there. Stephen doesn’t just care about the mechanics of the gun, it has to be built beautifully. Form and function are married together in Stephen’s guns. He loves seeing the finished product and the appreciation of it in the faces of his customers. 
Stephen can’t imagine doing anything else, and he believes that everybody should love what they do. He believes that doing something that you don’t love that pays more is wasting life, and in life sometimes you just have to create your own benefits.

“If you’re going to build something, build it right.”

Name: Stephen Milton
Location: King City, Ontario

Occupation: Master Gunsmith

Stephen Milton is pretty sure his parents thought he was a proper nuisance as a child. He always took anything mechanical apart to figure out how it worked.  Before he put it back together he would always make at least one adjustment to improve it. Besides fiddling with mechanical things, Stephen drew, painted and had a passion for shooting.  Growing up in the U.K. countryside, he often hunted birds and rabbits.  He was also fascinated with the inner workings of fine shotguns and rifles. 

His appreciation for art led Stephen to admire the beauty of fine shotguns and rifles.  As a mechanical engineering apprentice, he amazed many of his mentors with how quickly he could solve problems.  But Stephen missed working with guns, so he took a five-year apprenticeship with a gunsmith and eventually decided to branch out on his own as a freelancer. 

He made parts and repaired shotguns and double-barrel rifles for established companies before he emigrated to Canada to start his own business, Precision Arms & Gunsmithing Ltd.  His quality craftsmanship quickly earned him customers. There’s fine detail in every piece that Stephen uses to build the guns – there’s no “close enough” – everything must be precise down to the moisture content in the wood.

It doesn’t stop there. Stephen doesn’t just care about the mechanics of the gun, it has to be built beautifully. Form and function are married together in Stephen’s guns. He loves seeing the finished product and the appreciation of it in the faces of his customers. 

Stephen can’t imagine doing anything else, and he believes that everybody should love what they do. He believes that doing something that you don’t love that pays more is wasting life, and in life sometimes you just have to create your own benefits.

January 5, 2013
2013 profiles needed.
Hello all,
Sorry things have been slow posting lately. I have been working on some great assignments in the last part of the year. Where has this year gone.
On to 2013!
I am currently looking for new people for our 2013 additions to "For The Love Of It" if you or anyone you know that would be great to profile let me know.
Thanks
Jonathan.
jonathan@jonathanbielaski.com.