Tzaddi Gordon traded commuting and cubicles for a creative community on the Sunshine Coast

Tzaddi appreciates the access to nature, and relaxed pace, of the Sunshine Coast. Tzaddi appreciates the access to nature, and relaxed pace, of the Sunshine Coast.

This is the sixth in a series of interviews with creative/knowledge workers who left Vancouver. Today’s guest is Tzaddi Gordon, a designer, internet consultant, and artist. After too much time commuting, and in a cubicle, she made a plan to leave Vancouver, for the Sunshine Coast.

Tell me about your time in Vancouver:

I was born and raised in the Vancouver area. I studied fine art at Emily Carr, and co-founded an artist-run space in the downtown east side (it’s still operating 20 years later!). Around the same time I began my web design career, at a large corporation.

When did you decide it was no longer for you?

In the early 2000s, I made a long term plan to move to the Sunshine Coast. I was spending too much time commuting, or in a cubicle—and not enough in nature and making art. The area I lived in was rapidly transforming from a quiet community with ample green space to cookie cutter houses and strip malls. It no longer felt like home.

There’s little in life that’s as healing as spending time with your furry friend, on a secluded beach.There’s little in life that’s as healing as spending time with your furry friend, on a secluded beach.

Why did you chose to move to the Sunshine Coast?

I was attracted to the easy access to both the ocean and hiking, the abundance of creativity, and the easygoing attitude/pace. My mother and brother moved here when I was at art school, so closeness to family was part of the decision as well. It also seemed pragmatic, as it allowed me the option of commuting to work in Vancouver, if I needed to.

What do you like, and dislike, about the Sunshine Coast?

I love that I’m a short walk to both rainforest trails and the beach. I also love how creativity is such a major part of so many lives here—whether people are professional creatives or not. I love that I can see so many stars at night.

On the Sunshine Coast, Tzaddi has easy access to a wide variety of (rather magical) forest hikes. On the Sunshine Coast, Tzaddi has easy access to a wide variety of (rather magical) forest hikes.

When I need to drive, it’s mostly through beautiful views (with virtually no advertising competing for my attention). I’m aware that my urge to participate in consumer culture has diminished by being away from the city—and limiting my exposure to mass media. In many ways, I feel healthier living here than I did in the city.

Being landlocked has its challenges. There’s no highway from here to Vancouver, even though we’re part of the Mainland. The ferry ride lasts only 40 minutes, but it has become less frequent and more expensive, over the years.

I miss easy access to my city friends, conferences, a wide variety of foods, and specialty stores that we don’t have here. If you were a woman, this is where I’d commiserate on the increased difficulty of finding a swim suit or a bra that fits. ;-)

Tzaddi’s beloved fig tree is about as big as a studio apartment in the city.Tzaddi’s beloved fig tree is about as big as a studio apartment in the city.

What kind of work do you do, now?

I’m a freelance consultant focused on branding, web design, and web strategy. I work primarily with micro-business owners who’ve outgrown their early stage design efforts. I help them flourish into the next stage of their business, by creating a stronger online presence. We do this to support their strategy and truly reflect the essence of their work.

I should also note that I work in a studio right next to my house. So, my commute is considerably shorter than before.

Evening entertainment, Sunshine Coast style! Evening entertainment, Sunshine Coast style!

Do you miss the city?

Sometimes. I wouldn’t move back, but I do make a point of getting into the city, now and then. I take regular day trips with local friends to get our “city fix,” and I Skype with a city friend, to visit and make art together.

How do you stay inspired? How/where do you take in new culture?

I attend conferences to connect with colleagues—and get a good dose of city culture while I’m at it. I’m in several Facebook groups with peers who support each other with discussions of trends and new ideas. They also share feedback on work in progress.

I attend Life Drawing sessions regularly and I take vocal improv classes, as well. I keep up with what artist friends are doing through social media, and go to art exhibitions either locally or further afield, when I can. The Sunshine Coast Art Crawl is also an amazing way to take in the local creative culture; last year there were 125 venues participating.

Tzaddi attends life drawing sessions, where she practices her craft, and connects with local artists. Tzaddi attends life drawing sessions, where she practices her craft, and connects with local artists.

What words of advice do you have for creative people in Vancouver, looking to relocate to somewhere smaller?

Figure out what you want to move toward, rather than away from, so you can select the smaller place that feeds you best.

Once you’re in your new place, you might need to consciously fill any void you feel in your new place. At first I felt very isolated, working from home in a place where I had no friends. Without school-aged kids I didn’t have that automatic integration into a community which parents seem to have.

So, I signed up for some activities and actively built a new local network. Now, my local network is strong, so the only void I feel is in the parts of the city I miss.

If you’re interested in living a different life, or moving to the Sunshine Coast, request a session with Tzaddi! Sessions are free, 10 minutes long, and allow you to get one-on-one answers to your questions.