Nestled in Sunland California, All Roads, a textile arts and creative design studio, is an inspiring space that fosters an organic process between two artists of different backgrounds. The delicate yarn and fiber weavings of Janelle Pietrzak partnered with Robert Dougherty’s welding and metal work are joined together to frame the perfect piece. This seamless combination in their artwork is also felt in the liveliness of their home and balance of their relationship. Lush green vines accented with raw cut walls lead into the studio surrounded by inspirational tears, books and piles of textiles and materials. You can’t help but leave here longing to find your true passion. Check out a deeper look into the background, inspiration and dreams of these two creators.
Tell me about your childhood… what was encouraged in your home?
My mom’s side is a family of artists…painters, potters, a weaver, a musician…There was always something to make or create. I spent a lot of time with my grandmother, who was really creative and crafty. She used to make grapevine wreaths from the vines growing in my grandfathers vegetable garden. Time at their house was always spent crafting and making things.
Do you believe all of us are born artists?
I think that everyone can be an artist in their own way, it is really about finding your passion…it could be working as a mechanic on motorcycles or working in an office. You can inject your passion into anything you do and make it artful.
I also just read this quote today from Andy Warhol that is just great, “…I guess it’ll all get so simple that everything will be art..” I like that.
You worked in fashion for 10 years… now, solely creating for your own business… what are the greatest lessons you have taken from each experience? What would one be without the other?
All of my experience in the fashion industry accumulated to my present being. Working in design I learned color theory and proportions. When I worked as a global fabric buyer, I learned how fabrics are made technically. Working for both small and large companies allowed me to view different approaches to running a business. I still work partially as a designer, creating groups of work in “collections” to explore a common idea or material. I like to start collections with an inspiration board and color direction…these are all habits I learned from the fashion industry. I don’t really know if I would be successful without this history. I consider myself a designer, a businesswoman and sometimes an artist all at once.
If you were to make a meal for any 4 people, dead or alive, who would they be and what would you make?
Well I am terrible cook, the only thing I am good at making is pie. So I would make an apple pie. I would like to invite over Ray and Charles Eames because their work ethic and brains amaze me. Also I would invite Louis Armstrong, because he is one of my favorite musicians ever. And I would like Robert to be there, so that’s 4.
Favorite music to work alongside?
It varies..I get stuck on repeat a lot with music. I make lots of mixes and usually shuffle through those constantly. Robert gets really tired of hearing the same songs over and over. Right now I am listening to a lot of folk singers from the 60′s. I am reading a book about the history of music in Laurel Canyon, so I have started to look up some of those musicians. Also in my playlists are Angel Olsen, Wanda Jackson, Judee Still and Pentangle.
Your personal style?
A casual mess. I throw on a dress and birkenstocks and just start working.
You can start building your dream home tomorrow… which room would you design first?
The living room for sure. This is the hardest room! It has to do so many things. It is a space to hang out and relax, maybe to eat meals, sometimes host guests. I think the living room is the showcase room, like the space that defines the dweller of the home. So it really has to reflect you and do all those functions.
Where would this house be?
Robert and I dream about a house with a little bit of land so we can spread out and have a garden and workshops and a guest safari tent..and maybe some chickens, two goats and two pigs. I love southern California, but I imagine this house would be a bit more up north and maybe by the coast or nestled in the mountains. The dream is a still a little vague..but we are trying to visualize it!
Your greatest source for inspiration?
Interiors. Furniture. Right now I am obsessed with a very specific aesthetic from the mid century, and also from the 70′s. Kind of a European, earthy, designer sexy kind of feel.
How did you meet Robert?
Robert and I met when we were living in Philadelphia. He was a mechanic at a vintage motorcycle shop. I wanted to learn more about bikes, so I became his weekend apprentice. We worked together for a few months and became friends. I think once we started to leave the shop together, like go get lunch, a spark happened. We had a couple times where we spent all night riding our motorcycles together on the empty Philly streets. We would sit by the Delaware River and talk until the sun came up. Then I guess we realized we liked each other, and soon after went on a proper date.
How do the two of you work alongside each other?
Well our relationship was built on work, so we have always had a good flow when we work together. We are good at anticipating the next step, so work moves fast. We like brainstorming new ideas, I think our differences in aesthetic help balance thoughts and projects out.
Advice for those that live, love, and work together?
Our biggest challenge is that we work too much. Now that my studio is in my house and my hobby has become my work, I think it is even harder. It is difficult to stop work and enjoy doing nothing sometimes. One of our New Year’s goals is to enjoy California more, get a new hobby and enrich our lives with things other than work. We are trying to do more things like hike in the mountains by our house, exercise, take day trips and visit with friends. I think it is important to make time just for your relationship, just being with each other. We are working on learning how to take breaks from work!
Favorite material to work with??
Anything ropey, stringy or wooly. Plastics or metals too. I find the most inspiration shopping for materials at hardware stores.
What is your greatest love of owning your own business? The greatest challenge?
There are so many reasons I feel lucky doing my own thing! I love days when I get to weave, hike, have lunch with Robert…those perfect days I actually think to myself I am so lucky. Being involved in this creative community in Los Angeles has allowed me to meet incredible artists and makers, which is inspiring and supportive. I also do have really challenging days…sometimes working by myself drives me crazy, working for picky clients makes me question everything and sometimes I just miss the steady paycheck. I definitely go through many highs and lows working for myself. But the highs are so much better because it is a true feeling of accomplishment, so it makes it all worth it.
Tell me about living on the West Coast…
Moving to the West Coast 2 years ago changed my life completely. I had no idea my life would be what it is right now, and I know for certain none of it would have happened had we not moved here. That is kind of our motto…All Roads. Where we live is so inspiring and motivated. We can work outside all year, the landscape is beautiful and changes from mountains to ocean to desert. The people here are inspiring and the community is supportive. I feel like some kind of love child of LA that just bloomed into being. So, basically I love the West Coast.
What are your biggest dreams for the next 5 years??
Yikes! That is hard to think about. My business is still new, so I can only concentrate on a future of 6 months. I hope I can keep this sustainable. I am interested to see how what I am doing now grows into the next phases. There are so many opportunities for textiles right now, but we are just carving our path. We hope to make our new house a home, as we continue to work on it. I want to start travelling again. I want to work on a bigger scale. Also I hope we get a hot tub for our backyard!
One piece of advice to young artists chasing dreams?
Find your passion! Working 14 hours a day isn’t so bad when you love what you do or make. If you can keep finding inspiration in your medium, then I think you could be on the right path.
Visit the All Roads website.