It’s like a dream come true—Paintlounge finally opened up a downtown location. Perhaps this is a personal sentiment, but no longer do I have to ask for a ride to go up to Markham to satisfy my painting urges. Hooray!!
784 College Street
Toronto, ON M6G 1C6
(416) 900 – 2644
For those of you who don’t know what Paintlounge is: it is a space for social painting. Imagine a coffee shop lined up with easels, canvases, and painting supplies with people painting, socializing, and often times, listening to a live band playing music. Samantha Chan, who’s the founder of Paintlounge, is pioneering the next wave of the coffee house manifesto to become social spaces. What a great idea it is to bring the joy of painting out of exclusive artist studios to a common space where folks from all walks of life can gather and share. I’m going to call this evolution “coffee shop 2.0”.
As I arrived at Paintlounge for the launch party, I was greeted warmly with a loop bag and my dear friend Caroline, whom I introduced to Paintlounge. Caroline has been into drawing and painting her whole life and Paintlounge was the perfect space for her to explore her artistic endeavours. I would even say it has pushed her even farther into practicing her craft and inspired to take up official art classes. I love to see when people are able to thoroughly enjoy themselves and become so dedicated and passionate doing something they love.
I said my congratulations to Sam and caught up with Steph Lo from MaMa Lo’s Cupcakes whom catered the event with her delicious cupcakes at the DIY cupcake bar. There also was this refreshing rooibos iced tea with some cheese and crackers to nibble on. Near the front, a giant canvas was set up for the event’s group collaborative painting—the Mondrian style painting would be painted in three colours, each colour has its own meaning. Green = creative; yellow = loved; blue = beautiful. There was also a live band (with a cello!) ready to add some beautiful tunes to the evening. Soon after, my other artistic friend, Sylvie, joined me at the party as we chatted and took in the air of excitement in the room.
The downtown location is fairly more spacious than the Markham one with a back lounge area available for a more private gathering. Lots of paintings are hung on the wall, most of them painted by Paintlounge patrons. As the night unfolded, the whole space was rammed with people, all excited to flex their artistic muscles for the night to paint a mini-canvas. Aprons on, brushes stowed, people grabbed whatever spots they can and began a fun painting session. The Paintlounge team scurried around to help those stuck on finding an inspiration or needed help with using a certain technique. It was great to see the amount of talent in the room as I surveyed the room and took peeks at people’s creations.
I had always been inspired by Sam’s idea and I knew I had to get to the bottom of her story to truly understand her journey of how she arrived here. Believe me, it’s definitely one of those remarkable never-imagined-I-would-end-up-here stories.
Starting at a young age, Sam would frequent art classes as her extra-curricular activity. Being creative and artistic has always been an important part of her life. She studied industrial engineering for her undergrad as it combined functional artistic design, science, and mathematics into one. But that wasn’t exactly the career path she wanted to pursue. After doing consulting work in that field for a little while, she decided to try out investment banking in Hong Kong. For those of you familiar with the corporate world in Hong Kong know how intense it is—suffice it to say that Sam has incredible transferable skills and a variety of experiences under her belt. It was in Hong Kong that she found a coffee shop that allows patrons to paint while they are there. She thought it was a brilliant idea and wanted to bring this concept back to Toronto, but with a social twist. After months of researching and planning—Paintlounge was born. Sam wanted to make the whole painting more social by creating events like Espressions where there’s a live band and people are encouraged to walk around and share their work.
Needless to say, we are super happy that Paintlounge has blossomed and that it has gifted us with spaces to gather together with one another and socialize over art.
Keep it up Sam!