Here on the Meet the Maker series we hope to introduce you to the local artists and creators of the York Region. For episode 9, I want to invite you to meet Asia Dietrich of Journey to Asia.
Your shop contains a unique array of items that are stunning. Tell us a bit about Journey to Asia and how it all began.
My husband Daniel and I have always had a love for art. We’ve both been doing art since we were children. Art is one of the few common interests we share! I studied art in university, and I currently teach art in secondary school for the York Region District School Board. My husband has always enjoyed woodworking, and he pursued engineering. Woodworking allows him to put his theory into practice. The shop is a combination of our skill sets.
Do you have a preference for materials that you work with?
I like acrylic paints. They are so versatile, and you can emulate so many different styles of painting by adding water or different mediums to the paint. Daniel’s favourite medium is pine for carvings.
Did you take classes to learn the skills you utilize or are these self taught practices of trial and error?
My husband’s work is self-taught—definitely a lot of “seeing what works and what doesn’t” over the years. I took art throughout high school and postsecondary. For my ongoing learning, I take some drawing/painting workshops and practice online digital art tutorials. I always tell my students to practice drawing to improve. I try to practice what I preach. There are so many aspects of art I need to be knowledgeable about in my job, both in traditional (painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking) and digital arts (photography, Photoshop, vector graphics, animation, film). It’s hard to keep up sometimes
Is Journey to Asia your full time job?
Etsy is not a full-time job, but something we do on the side to keep life creative. For me it gives me a break from teaching art, and reminds me I should continue making it!
I really love the items in the shop and the way it can bring the great outdoors into a home. Where do you draw inspiration from?
Initially, we were creating things for our home so that inspiration came from necessity. As well, I research a lot of design going in stores or online. In our travels, I take inspiration from what other cultures create. With the advent of Pinterest, so many people have contacted us to create the one of a kind item they see online. We are really against the “mass production” look so we try to make unique items you usually wouldn’t find in a store.
How long does the average item take for you to create?
An average item may take 5 hours. This does not include sourcing the materials for the piece.
We will be seeing you in September for the Etsy Made in Canada; what are you working on for the show?
We are doing a lot of sample custom rustic wedding items (cupcake stands, signs, chalkboard art, centerpieces, etc), as well as wood furniture.
A vacation relaxing on the beach, or exploring the local culture?
I would choose exploring a local culture. We travel extensively each summer, because we are both teachers and have the time off. As a couple, we’ve been to 16 countries in Central America, the Caribbean, Europe, East Asia and northern Africa.
You can find Journey to Asia at the Etsy York Region Made in Canada event September 24th in at Aurora’s Cultural Centre. Click here for more details.