Learn how-to screen print in #ShopShowcase with Opus Art Supplies.
How did you get started?
Opus Art Supplies was started by David van Berckel in 1974, and began as Opus Framing. He started with a custom picture framing shop, framing works of art, then moved into manufacturing of frames, which lead to wholesaling to the picture framing industry. After a trip to Europe, David was inspired to use his engineering background to begin creating and selling standard sized picture frames in Canada. This is when the first Opus brand product was developed, the Opus Metal Exhibition Frame. "The OMEX frame is reusable and it seemed to make sense for artists to have a frame they could use over and over again," he explains.
In 1980, just two years after moving his then-small business to Granville Island, Emily Carr University of Art + Design moved in next door. “I suddenly had hundreds of art supply customers. One thing led to another and that’s when ‘Opus Framing’ became ‘Opus Framing & Art Supplies’. The manufacturing of frames was moved to a factory just blocks away and was renamed ‘Framers Cash & Carry’, which today is now called ‘Framers Choice’.” Opus Granville Island is still in that building today, standing as Opus' flagship location.
Over the next quarter century, five more Opus locations across BC were opened, along with a national mail order service and an online store. Each retail location is as unique in itself as is the area it is located, David admits "I’ve always liked places that were sort of on the fringe, just on the edge of respectability. When I first moved to Granville Island, it was just on the edge. Even our Downtown Vancouver store had lain empty for 14 years before we took on that space because nobody wanted to move into the area."
Where are you located?
From its humble roots as a wholesale framing company in Vancouver, Opus Art Supplies has grown to include 6 locations across British Columbia, with two stores in Vancouver (Opus Granville Island and Opus Downtown), Victoria, Langley, North Vancouver and Kelowna. We also provide a National Mail Order service and an online store that services artists across the rest of Canada.
Opus Art Supplies - Downtown Vancouver
100 - 207 W. Hastings Street
Vancouver, BC, V6B 1H7
Opus Art Supplies - Granville Island
1360 Johnston Street
Vancouver, BC, V6H 3S1
Opus Art Supplies - Victoria
512 Herald Street
Victoria, BC, V8W 1S6
Opus Art Supplies - Kelowna
1357 Ellis Street
Kelowna, BC, V1Y 1Z9
Opus Art Supplies - Langley
95 - 5501 204 St Langley Mall
Langley, BC, V3A 5N8
Opus Art Supplies - North Vancouver
119 - 949 3rd Street West
North Vancouver, BC, V7M 2E8
Opus Art Supplies (National Mail Order)
3445 Cornett Street
Vancouver, BC, V5M 2H3
phone: 1 (800) 663-6953
Which products do you specialise in?
We specialize in art supplies, digital printing and picture frames. Opus carries over 18,000 products, which means we can offer a huge range of materials for painters, illustrators, sculptors, printmakers, collage artists, calligraphers, and mixed media artists of all ages and abilities. Our goal is to be viewed by artists as one of their best resources, whether they are looking for products, inspiration, or help with problem solving in their project.
Do you have a particular favorite product that you sell?
With so many products, it's hard to choose one particular favourite. We've compiled a list of a few faves from staff members at each store:
Opus Finest Watercolour Book, Daniel Smith Extra Fine Watercolours, QoR Watercolour Paints by GOLDEN, Daniel Smith Transparent Watercolour Ground, Copic Markers, Sakura Gelly Roll Pens, ArtGraf No. 1 Drawing Graphite Putty, Kaweco Skyline Sport Fountain Pens, Polychromos and Prismacolor Pencil Crayons, Faber Castell Trio Sharpener, Molotow Extra Fine White Acrylic Marker, Opus Essential Acrylics, Liquitex Acrylic Inks and Spray Paint, Golden Black Gesso, the Best Deluxe Lobo Easel, Gamblin's Solvent Free Gel and Safflower Oil, Gamvar Varnish, Jacquard Indigo Tie Dye Kit, and Milliput Epoxy Putty!
For more favourites, watch our video Staff Picks: Our Favourite Art Supplies () which introduces you to some of our Opus staff members and gives insight into why they love the products they love, and Ultimate Gift to get great gift ideas for artists, and ideas for yourself, too!
What's on the stereo?
From Jazz Masters and music from the 1920's to Golden Oldies, Classic Rock, 80's Disco, R&B, and modern Indie Rock, the music at each store varies day by day. There is something for everyone in our playlists, so if you're not a fan of the current song, stick around for the next one – it may be a song you love!
Where else should we visit in your area?
Near our flagship store, Opus Granville Island, you’ll find lots of amazing art galleries, including Federation Gallery and 3 galleries located at the Emily Carr University of Art + Design. Granville Island is also famous for its Public Market, the Kids Market, and the artsy shops of the Net Loft. There are wonderful places to shop, eat, drink, and relax, and you’ll find musicians and entertainers all over the island year round, too.
Around Opus Downtown Vancouver is a bustling city-based community with amazing places to eat including purebread bakery, Revolver Coffee, La Taqueria, and Catfe – a cat cafe! Some great shopping can be found at Paper Hound bookstore and The Window Community Art Shop. If you're wanting to visit an inspiring location, consider popping in to the Dr. Sun Yat Sen Gardens, or taking a walk along the Vancouver Sea Wall – although many folks don't think of this as being in our neighbourhood, it is only 5 minutes from the store!
The staff at Opus North Vancouver recommend taking a walk in nearby Pacific Spirit Park. Take in a bit of nature and be inspired by its beauty! The Lonsdale Quay is located about 10 minutes away by car, and offers visitors a great variety of places to eat, boutique shops featuring the work of many local artisans, and stunning views of the downtown Vancouver skyline.
Near Opus Victoria, grab a bite to eat at Union Pacific Coffee or Bean Around the World, and then pop into Fan Tan Home & Style and Trig Vintage for a cool selection of goodies for your home. The ever-popular Inner Harbour, just a few blocks away, is a lovely place for a stroll, and offers great views of historic Fairmont Empress Hotel and the Parliament Buildings, home to the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, and some beautiful boats, too.
Opus Langley staffers recommend visiting Gallery 204, the one way section of Fraser Highway, which has lots of great restaurants and boutiques, Douglas Park and Sendall Gardens. For those wanting to take in some art, nearby Fort Langley boasts multiple galleries and studios including the Birthplace of BC Gallery, The Fort Gallery, The Pencil Studio, and the Flagstop Gallery.
If you’re in Kelowna, the area surrounding Opus is rich with things to do. The Kelowna Art Gallery is located nearby, in the heart of the city’s cultural district, and boasts a permanent collection of 850+ works of art, as well as changing exhibitions and fun family art activities. Get a bite to eat at Bliss Cafe and Bistro or Giobean Coffee, or enjoy a walk at Waterfront Park (PDF), the Boardwalk, or take in the beauty at Kasugai Gardens.
Do you host any workshops, classes or special events?
Each Opus location hosts Visiting Artist Demonstrations, Workshops, and Classes throughout the month. A diverse range of subjects are offered each month, so if you’ll be in the area, be sure to check out which demos are happening online and register early for the ones you’re interested in attending.
Is there anything else you'd like us to know?
Opus is committed to being a resource for artists. We strive to inspire and assist the artists in our communities, and to offer a complete range of products that will help creative people of all ages and abilities achieve their creative goals.
If you're visiting British Columbia, we invite you to visit us. If you're looking for how-to's or inspiration, and you're not in the area, check out our extensive selection of Opus videos, featuring How-To Videos, Artist Interviews, and so much more!
Do you have a favorite craft, art or supply shop in your town that we should feature? Send us a message!