Tell us about your company
I'm Crystal Driedger, an artist,
illustrator and sculpter. Everything I make is handmade, mostly on wood
surfaces. Relief carvings are created using chisels, mallet, a Dremel and
paint. Prints are hand cut, sanded and printed with original drawings. I strive
to create artwork that creates happiness with a little humor sprinkled in for
Why did you start your business?
I've always wanted a home based
studio so I could be home with my children while they are young. I have two
boys: a 3 year old and a 5 year old. Plus, working for myself at home means I
can head to the studio whenever I get the urge to create. No travel time!
A coffee shop that supplies your caffeine fix or a local designer
that wowed you…tell us about a local company that has been a lifesaver to your
I'm so thankful for my support
team. The first local company I work with is Box Social, run by Deanne
Ferguson, who has helped coach me to create a growing social media presence
(something quite crucial as an artist).
The second is Giselle Denis,
another Sherwood Park painter. Her advice and buisness savvy is incredible.
The third would have to be The
Paint Spot. They host workshops, have great supplies and run the artwalk every
year, a fantastic event for new and established artists alike.
Where were you previously working and how did you build the skills
for your craft?
I have a design and illustration
diploma from MacEwan University (then Grant MacEwan College) and spent the
first 5 years of my career working in-house as an illustrator creating work for
a company where I created gift bags, greeting cards, wrapping paper and
children's books that sold to Walmart, Costco, Barnes & Nobles, Dollarstore
chains and more.
I then went on to be a designer
& illustrator at the Royal Alberta Museum part time and freelance
illustrated the rest of the week. That's when I started to create fine art for
markets. I got an agent in New York to help with my licensing illustrations
(gift bags, cards, puzzles, really anything you see artwork on in stores). It's
been quite a journey.
I find inspiration usually online
now, watching tutorials online and chatting with industry professionals.
Whatever interests me, I look up, try it out and perfect the technique. It's
easy these days to continually upgrade your technical skill for free with a
little self motivation and dedication.
What was the first product you offered and how did you begin
After graduating from MacEwan, I
completed a practicum for an Edmonton company that had a dozen illustrators
working for them. It was an incredible experience, being surrounded by what was
the best of the best and learning from them. The first artwork I sold would
have been as an employee, creating Christmas gift bags for DollarTree. I made
hundreds of snowmen and santa gift bags in those years. I can still paint a
great snowman, they're really just fantastically stylized people.
How have you set your business apart from others doing something
There are millions of artists and
illustrators out there, but I set myself apart because of my style. Every
artist has their own voice and I try to be true to mine. For me, it's not about
making people like my work, it's finding the audience that likes my art and
keeping them interested in me. Being approachable, honest and kind. Keeping my
work professional, using top quality materials and working with venues that are
also professional. Continually making my work better so that people who invest
in my work can feel proud that they have supported me.
How does your business give back?
Currently, I support ASAC, the
Association for Safe Alternatives in Childbirth. I have quite a nerdy obsession
with birth, birth art and options for women. I've also set up charity art
auctions for the Edmonton Humane Society (a dozen local artists produced paintings
of local shelter animals for a big gala they were having).
What’s an interesting fact about you or your business, reporters
would deem newsworthy?
I'm one of the only artists in
Edmonton that produces painted relief carvings. I'm quite interested in texture
and how different colours look together on rough surfaces. Maybe it's that I
grew up in a log home in a remote part of Alberta, but trees and wood are a big
component of my current work and I love to use locally sourced wood.
How do you stay ahead of the curve?
I'm an avid sketcher. Before any
project gets near to the final piece a pile of sketches are made. It's crucial
to feel uninhibited in the process stage - to know that the first sketch isn't
likely to dictate the final piece. It makes me free to make mistakes, make a
couple ugly things before the really good ones come about.
I draw inspiration from my
pinterest boards and the instagram and twitter accounts I follow. I'm always
collecting things that are amazing. The more directions and artists you draw
inspiration from, the more likely you are to create original work of your own.
It's very important to me to make original work, never copied directly from
Tell us about a business disaster you learned a valuable lesson
from and can (hopefully) laugh about now:
When I first started doing
markets, I just signed up for all of them. Any of them. There were a few really
terrible markets that cost quite a bit up-front, but were so poorly attended
that it made the 3 day take-down-set-up routine agonizing (I'm talking about
less than a dozen shoppers walking through in 3 days). Now I carefully research
where I sell my art to make sure I'm not wasting my time.
What has been the biggest challenge of running your business and
how have you overcome it?
The biggest challenge has been
having preschool aged children at home while working. I'm careful about how
much I can take on because it's very difficult to work during the day. The boys
are great at playing by themselves, but I don't want to get in a habit of
working too many hours during the day so that they are forgotten. I often work
after the children go to bed, especially before big shows where I log many
hours at night. This will always be my biggest challenge, but also my greatest
joy. I was born a Libra, always searching for balance.What’s been the most important aspect to growing your business?