Janelle Pietrzak is the artist behind All Roads, a textile art studio and creative workshop based out of Los Angeles. Known for her unique use of color, materials, and texture, Janelle is heavily inspired by place and natural environments. We sat down with Janelle in her sunny studio at the back of her home out in Sunland, California to chat about branching off to start her own business, what inspires her and lessons she's learned from traveling.
The name of your line suggests traversing and travel. Is your work inspired by place, travel, discovery?
All Roads really means that life is a culmination of all experiences and that everything you go through leads you to this present moment. It helps us be grateful for our past, to understand that we needed to go through those things to be where we are now, good or bad. I think my work is all about discovery and places and travel. The mountains, the desert, the ocean… they are all very different places, but each really inspires my work.
How does where you live shape your art?
I love living in LA now, and find tons of inspiration here. Driving up to San Francisco in
the winter, I was blown away by the golden, rolling hills... the dried dead grasses.
I became obsessed with that yellow wheat color. It inspired an entire collection of
And you've lived in a lot of other states besides California!
My dad was in the Navy, so we moved around a lot. I have lived in 7 states and in over 10 different cities.
Why is your current home special?
Living by the mountains was our main goal. Now I live in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains just north of LA in a town called Sunland. I never imagined I would live in a suburban place after living in cities on the east coast, but now it feels okay. We go into the mountains a lot just to go to the creek or drive up the Big Tujunga Dam. Even a 30 minute break like this is inspiring and helps calm the mind.
We noticed a very sweet vintage photo of your grandmother tacked to a board in your studio. Was she a big influence on you?
Yes! My grandmother Dolores was super creative, funny and weird. She was a doctor's wife with 5 kids. She and my grandfather were obsessed with Japanese culture, traveling there many times. I have so many memories of making crafts and art projects at her house. My favorite thing was to use the piece of white cardboard that came in pantyhose packages, she used to save it for us draw on. She used to make grapevine wreaths from the grapes that my grandfather grew in his garden. Their basement was full of wreaths hanging on the walls. Later in life she became obsessed with making Christmas tree ornaments. She had hundreds of beautifully detailed ornaments stored away when she passed away. I think I inherited her obsessive artistic nature.
Can you tell us a little bit about starting your own business and going full time as an artist?
I have always wanted to work for myself, something about LA is so inspiring that I think I finally found the motivation to make it happen. It is totally scary and my anxiety levels are high, but it is so worth it. My successes are my own. I am so grateful for my previous experience in fashion – it prepped me for the other aspects of having a business... things like brand identity, packaging, appealing to an audience... Without focusing on all those areas as well as the product, a business will have a hard time succeeding.
You just started teaching weaving classes and workshops; how do you like sharing your craft in this way?
I like connecting with people in real life. I spend much of my time alone in the studio. I connect with a lot of friends via Instagram, but meeting people in real life is really great.
Can you tell us something about projects you’re working on or dreaming up?
I am working on some larger pieces, which has been a big goal of mine this year. I am excited to finally be doing it!
Where is your favorite place to travel to? How often do you travel?
When I worked in the fashion industry I travelled to Europe twice a year. Now that I work for myself I can't find the time to travel. I really miss it, especially traveling alone. I like to go to another country alone and make decisions for myself. It is really important for growth I think. Robert (my husband) and I travel locally often. We take weekend trips to Joshua Tree to clear our minds. I think that is probably my current favorite place to go right now.
Do you have a travel philosophy that you stick to?
If I am staying somewhere more than one night I always unpack!
What’s your preferred mode of transport + travel?
I live in LA, so driving is necessary. When I lived in Philadelphia I took the train a lot to New York. I liked that quiet time and space.
What is the most memorable trip or journey you’ve ever taken?
In 2006, I took a trip to Guatemala and Belize with a few friends. That was the most inspiring and best trip I have ever taken. The textiles and culture there has really stuck with me. I hope to go back to Antigua one day. The food was so simple but incredible. I loved everything about that trip.
Can you share something interesting or formative you’ve maybe learned while traveling?
Travelling makes your world small. As soon as you see other people, cultures and environments, you realize how big the world is. It makes you feel little and it really puts things into perspective.
JANELLE'S LOCAL CITY GUIDE
Favorite place to get inspired in LA/LA area:
Anywhere surrounded by nature… I live in the foothills of the San Gabriel Mountains, and they continue to inspire through the changing seasons.
Favorite local art gallery/museum:
I wish I made time for this!
Speranza in Silverlake.
New High Mart in Los Feliz
Favorite evening activity:
Favorite place to be on a Sunday:
Not in the studio.
Favorite place to visit in California:
Joshua Tree. The landscape is so simplified there. It calms you.
Any off-the-beaten path places you’d like to share:
If you come to LA, just go on a hike.