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Local Top List

Top Local in YAH Global

Best Tortured Artist Cafes In Vancouver


You know what we're talking about here. That person in the corner of your favorite cafe, laptop open, a couple of books scattered on the table and an intense look on their face with eyes that glance up from time to time to make sure you are noticing them and thus witnessing their plight as a struggling artist, tourtured screenwriter, or Slam Poet.

If its a guy, he hasn't shaven in days/weeks. He most likely has an old blazer with patches on the elbows, unbuttoned so you can see his "Andy Warhol" t-shirt, knee torn jeans that crumble onto purposefully scuffed, untied, white tennis shoes and a scarf wrapped loosely around his neck no matter the time of year. They always wear a scarf. His coffee cup has been empty for hours and sits between an unread copy of the Communist Manifesto, a VFS binder, and a graphic novel.

If its a woman, you'll find her rolled yoga mat leaning off to the side somewhere near her table. She's not dressed for Yoga class necessarily, but she's prepared in case the inspiration strikes for a One-Legged King Pigeon at any moments notice. Seemingly without make-up, she's naturally beautiful but resents anyone for noticing or assuming anything about her because of that fact. Her earth toned clothes say "f*ck fashion" but her sleek touch screen laptop, not-yet-released in Canada mobile phone, and immaculate manicure gripping an americano tell you her bank account far exceeds the image shes going for. She wears a scarf wrapped loosely around her neck no matter the time of year. They always wear a scarf. She sits alone but has 4 empty espresso cups decorating the table along with an un-opened leather journal and some travel book about Europe.

These cafes below are where to go in Vancouver if you fit this description or if you get a kick out of that whole "vibe". So bring your unfinished screenplays, haikus, sketchpads, or lines to memorize and take a tour of these local watering (caffeinating) holes.


Raw Canvas

1046 Hamilton Street, Yaletown, Vancouver


This begs a twist on the age old question; which came first, Raw Canvas or this list? Was Raw Canvas made to fit the demand of the above demographic or did Raw Canvas draw them out of their studios (loft, art, AND yoga....artists love everything with the word "studio" at the end of it) and away from the much maligned corporate coffee chains that dont have organic cane syrup sugar substitute in their "mixing" area? RC has provided a place for the artisans, community patrons and looky loos of Vancouver to gather together on funky tables, chairs and floor space, surrounded by abstract works from the local guild. On any given day you will overhear way off "broadway" lines being rehearsed, bikram class discussions, and debates over hemp vs soy as a non dairy creamer. Raw Canvas houses a painters studio where anyone can grab a brush and canvas (for a relatively small fee) and channel their inner Jose Clemente Orozco (Google it and then give us props for not saying "Picasso" or someone typical) in the side gallery area.


Raw Canvas is found perfectly nestled into the Yaletown district, the neighborhood that can't decide if it wants to be a Vancouver version of either Greenwich Village OR Tribeca, NYC.


Tree Organic Coffee

450 Granville Street, Vancouver


Put the two words "tree" and "organic" in the title, and you've pretty much locked in half of your customer base, especially in an environmentally conscious metropolis such as Vancouver. This group tends to veer away from traditional 9 to 5 titles that define ones professional life persona, and thus opt for a more creative route, delving into the arts and such. They come here to toil away at their life's work, commingle with like souls and to soak up the atmosphere, and wireless connection, while enjoying cruelty free cheescake (sympathetic cheese and cream never tasted so good!).


Finch's Tea & Coffee House

353 West Pender Street, Vancouver


Finch's is surrounded by dusty old book stores, antique shops and other remnants of days past. It fits appropriately into the corner of West Pender Street and the exterior/interior decor not only matches the area, but reminds us what this neighborhood could become if only it would fulfill its potential for classic old world charm. Those seeking an escape from contemporary life come here to cozy up with a warm beverage while scribbling away in their journals, cinnamon scents and dark wood accenting their backgrounds. The only shame of this establishment is that it closes too early, the latest being 5pm, leaving little time for its "students" to complete potential master works when inspiration strikes in the late hour.


Cafe For Contemporary Art

140 East Esplanade, North Vancouver


Cafe For Contemporary Art is but a quick jaunt across the salt water via Sea Bus to North Vancouver, assuming that you are starting off in downtown Vancouver. Get off at Lonsdale Quay (not that there is another option), take a right onto East Esplanade and there you will find this funky modern art gallery/coffee-house. Cafe For Contemporary Art feels a bit more high-end and less accidental than the above coffee joints on the list. Brighter lights and a modern feel to the decor may scare of some of the more reclusive individuals but attract au courant artisans. Its location on the North Shore of Vancouver means the clientele is less likely a struggling artist, not to indicate anything about talent level, but the torturous intensity level is toned down somewhat, which can make it a more pleasant atmosphere for those coming by for a cup of java while browsing the walls for something to adorn the walls of their post modern contemporary highrise condo.