Parent Resources

Erin of Collage Collage: Artist, Educator, and Shopkeeper


Erin Boniferro is the proud owner of
Collage Collage, a combined art studio and shop in Vancouver, Canada. Here she talks about starting her dream business and teaching art to children.

IMG_0634-375x500 JEAN:  Erin, I came
across your studio/shop in the latest issue of LMNOP and have since explored
your website and blog. If I were in Vancouver, I’d stop by and visit as well! What a wonderful place it looks like! What led you to start
Collage Collage?

ERIN: I don't
think I could tell you what led me to start Collage Collage, because I've been
moving towards it for most of my life. My grandparents had a grocery store and
a hardware store, so the idea of a shop of my own has been a long time coming.
I'm a practicing artist who ended up teaching at a number of gallery and museum-based
programs over the years—I love the experience of sharing contemporary works
with children. This store lets all these aspects come together: I can be an
artist, an educator, and shopkeeper all in one.

JEAN:  What was it
like conceptualizing and launching your own shop and studio?

ERIN:  It was thrilling,
terrifying and totally wonderful. There were certain markers in my career that
would resonate, long before the store had a name or a completed business plan;
I just held onto these moments and found a place for them in my store. It's a
real joy to enter the space each day and see 10 years of gathering come


JEAN:  Art and art
education are obviously a big part of your life. Why do you believe it’s
important to encourage children to explore and create through art?

ERIN:  I believe that we
all benefit when we take the time to consider the work being made all around
us. In contemporary arts, design, music—we get a chance to explore or discuss
something we might not have before. I like this form of communication, and I
find it integral for adults and children alike.

IMG_2157-375x500 JEAN:  I’d love to
hear more about the art classes you offer! What activities do your students seem
to like the best? What materials do they have the most fun with?

ERIN:  We use a little bit
of everything around here—I couldn't tell you which ones I like the most, but
the students all seem rather happy when they get their sketch books to take
home at the end of the session—now filled with all the warm-up drawings and
scribble sessions from all their classes. One thing I always enjoy watching
them do are self portraits with mirrors, water colour paint and pastels. The
combination of careful drawing, tracing with pastels and then seeing the resist
of the watercolors is always a good time. And the portraits are as much about
the students as they are of them. 

JEAN:  Will you share
a bit about the shop side of Collage Collage and the things you sell, from art
materials to illustrated books and other artful items? It must be fun selecting
it all! How do you decide what to stock?

ERIN:  I've been looking
for items for the store for a very, very long time. One side holds most of the
materials, pom poms, pipe cleaners, popsicle sticks, all things I remember
loving and have since seen students in my class enjoying. It's gotten more
sophisticated to include beautiful, quality materials for adults and children
alike. Stockmar crayons, Lyra pencils, Canson papers, hand made books and
journals, amazing stickers from Moomah in NYC, the supplies themselves are


As for the books, they are a carefully edited selection of artists I admire and
am inspired by, story books that resonated with me and my students over the
years, as well as gems introduced to me by others over the span of a lifetime.
I'm hugely inspired by the Reggio Approach, and I'm thrilled to be carrying a
number of their titles in the store. It took a trip to Italy to get it going,
and I'm so happy I can share these titles with my community.

IMG_1964-375x500 I also have the pleasure of keeping the most talented friend's work in store as
well. It's nice to come from a community of artists, designers, writers—so many
of them from my arts school days—who now produce work that I can share with
others in my store.

I can't tell you exactly how I choose what comes into the shop. It has to be
unique, unlike what I've seen everywhere else. And it has to be something of
value—a treasure for someone to bring home, even if it's a 5cent button.

JEAN:  Do you have any
favorite artful resources (books/blogs/websites) to share with my readers?

ERIN: – megan is a friend, and I love what she's doing – I carry a lot of these titles in my shop!  – one of the creators of the Windy Series runs a
beautiful blog with great projects.

JEAN:   Thanks so much,
Erin! Collage Collage sounds like such a perfect mix of art making, inspiration, and supplies. Vancouverites are lucky to have you and your studio!

To learn more about Erin and her
amazing space, visit her website and her blog.

What do you think? Don't you wish you could stop by to do a little shopping and perhaps sign up for a "crafternoon"?


  • Reply
    marylea @ Pink and Green Mama
    July 28, 2010 at 8:21 am

    What a Lovely and FUN creative space for children.
    I want to go play there too!! : )

  • Reply
    butterfly wishes and wonderland dreams
    July 28, 2010 at 11:18 am

    that place would be so awesome to visit! :)

  • Reply
    annette standrod
    July 28, 2010 at 4:31 pm

    Love it! i could see myself doing this kind of thing one day.
    [email protected]

  • Reply
    July 28, 2010 at 7:32 pm

    This is SO incredible. I’ve always had dreams of something like this — ever since seeing some movie, maybe Mighty Aphrodite? I honestly can’t remember any details from the movie except that one of the characters had an art studio for kids. Thank you again Jean for another great interview and to Erin for being bold enough to start such a lovely business. If we ever make it up to Vancouver, you can bet we’ll be stopping in!

  • Reply
    sherri/the claw
    July 28, 2010 at 9:07 pm

    so great. wish we had a place like this here. so cool!

  • Reply
    July 28, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Think I’m in love. This shop is beautiful.

  • Reply
    heldin im chaos
    July 29, 2010 at 12:25 am

    Thanks for this interview, Jean! I first learned of Collage Collage through lovelydesign when sharilyn held her daughter’s party there. I was so excited and intrigued that I sent Erin a lot of questions in an email, but alas, never heard a response. My blog isn’t widely read enough to provide the audience that yours does, so I’m very happy she shared with you (and all of us, through your site)! Wouldn’t it be wonderful to visit and see it all in person!

  • Reply
    Alex Wells
    July 29, 2010 at 11:14 am

    Wow. What a fabulous and creative business idea. I love seeing people turn their passions into a way of life, particularly when it involves children. Erin has taken the big step that so many of us creatives dream about! Thanks for sharing this with us.

  • Reply
    July 29, 2010 at 12:32 pm

    I just visited Collage Collage and met Erin last week and am now happily surprised to see her featured on The Artful Parent! Collage Collage is the candy store of art shops and it was very hard to drag my three-year-old out of there (the rabbit stamp from Erin helped!). We’ll be back!

  • Reply
    July 30, 2010 at 4:00 pm

    exactly what i want in my little hometown of 10,000 so far away from canada!! i am working with our new gallery as i type. i am just so excited!

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