Be nice and put the “fun” into fundraising with local artist, Lisa Taniguchi – Scout Magazine

Photo credit: Mavreen David

Although the past few years have been trying, they have also brought to light the beauty of the community. Discovering the Be Kind Club was one of those moments – a reminder that there are people still committed to fostering community through kindness. The initiative sells different handmade products to raise funds for organizations that support our many different communities.

Lisa Taniguchi is the artist behind the initiative, whose lettering work creates “honest, human messages to uplift others or to help people feel seen”. As a second-generation Japanese-Canadian designer, her work celebrates the Asian diaspora and, quite simply, promotes kindness. We asked her to tell us a bit more about the Be Kind Club and her own creative practice.

What is the Be Kind Club and what motivated you to launch this initiative?

Be Kind Club is a shop that sells products for fun and fundraising. We offer items such as hats, tote bags, art prints, etc. that feature lettering. Sometimes these products are part of fundraisers to make the world a better place.

I started Be Kind Club about a year ago when the rise of anti-Asian hate crimes in North America hit a new high with the tragic spa shooting in Atlanta. Two months later, Vancouver was named the anti-Asian hate crime capital of North America by Bloomberg. I wanted to use creativity to celebrate the Asian Diaspora, but also raise funds to stop anti-Asian hatred. I curated and sold an art zine featuring 14 Asian-Canadian and American artists, 100% benefiting Project 1907 and Asian-Americans Advancing Justice. Since then, we have been fundraising for the Indian Residential School Survivors Society and the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

What other organizations here in Vancouver are important to you and why?

I always like to help out the Indian Residential School Survivor Society. They have been providing services to survivors for over 20 years and are an amazing organization that everyone should know about. A few other organizations I like to support are Project 1907, the YMCA, Greater Vancouver Food Bank, and Women in Tech World. One organization I recently heard about is the Crisis Center of BC. They provide crisis, suicide prevention and postvention support – a safe way for those who need help and hope to receive it. Our next planned fundraiser will benefit them.

Do you think artists have an obligation to create community through their work? Why or why not?

Wow, never thought of that. I do not think so. For me, being an artist should not create an obligation for this artist. Some people use art to heal and I think being creative just for yourself is perfectly valid. Personally, finding community through art has been very rewarding. Knowing that the art I created made someone feel less alone or celebrated is magical. Being able to connect with someone I never would have known is always amazing, both as an artist and with other people’s art.

What about living in Vancouver that inspires your art?

Vancouver is my home; I was born and raised here. As I got older, I gained a greater appreciation for the beauty of the city – and not just because of nature. I remember spending three months abroad and the first thing I thought when I got back to YVR was how grateful I was for its diversity. I love that no matter what you look like or who you are, you belong here. I also love the creative community and the laid-back pace of the city.

You seem to play with so many different mediums, what’s one creative thing you do just for yourself?

I feel like it changes from week to week, but right now I’d say pottery. I’m still a beginner, but there’s something liberating about not knowing anything and trying to see what I can do with it, anyway. I also often try to draw just for myself. Sometimes it ends up being shared, but it’s a nice way to keep a journal of the thoughts, emotions, and visuals that are in my brain. I have a really bad memory, so it’s good to have something to watch.

Whose work should we follow?

There are so many amazing creatives in Vancouver! Alex Smyth (aka Guch World) is a creative with the cutest illustrations and ceramics (who also curates Playground Pop-Up); Grace Cho is an art director, illustrator and designer with a beautiful print shop; designer and illustrator Michael Mateyko creates a wide range of stunning work; Moniker Press is a charming risography printing and publishing studio; interdisciplinary Coast Salish artist Atheana Picha has an impressive portfolio of work; Brother Jopa is a muralist, designer, videographer and master of typography; and freelance designer Ben Didier specializes in lettering and custom typography.

Follow Lisa’s work on Instagram, visit her website and support the Be Kind Club here.

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