Job Title: Owner and Creative Director, Woodward Design
Why She’s A Top 40: Her paid and pro bono work for arts organizations helps raise the profile of arts and design in Edmonton, and her design aesthetic has made an impact through a commitment to quality.
Key To Her Success: “I have an energy and passion for what I do.”
Part companion, part mascot, Kayt the greyhound has the angular lines you might expect from a dog that presides over a design studio. Like the dichotomous mash-up of Kayt’s role at Woodward Design, the business’s office space is also a combination – part nest, part laboratory.
Proprietor Amanda Woodward runs her design business, and the rest of her life, from her Old Strathcona home. But this should not be interpreted to mean that Woodward Design is not a serious business. Rather, this is an arrangement that understands that creativity needs comfort to be fostered.
After she graduated from Grant MacEwan college’s visual communication program in 1999, Woodward worked as a corporate graphic artist for architecture giant Stantec, then as art director for the IT firm Matrikon, where she built the company’s distinctive visual identity. “It taught me a level of professionalism,” she says.
“I can play in the corporate world.”
But when the corporate world comes calling now, the first thing Woodward does is invite it in for a cup of tea. “My clients come in and sit here,” Woodward says, palm down on a vintage Formica table in her kitchen. “Maybe there are dishes in the sink – I don’t apologize.”
Woodward opened her design firm in 2002. Her first client was the Northern Light Theatre, still a favourite on the roster; arts organizations continue to be a Woodward mainstay. Other clients come from university organizations and corporations, big and small, across Canada and in the U.S.
The jobs are equally eclectic and include packaging, logos, and print and web design. When HBO licensed a line of Italian sodas to promote its hit show The Sopranos, the American beverage company that made them, Imbibe, commissioned Woodward to design the labels.
Now, as the company has grown, Woodward’s focus is on balancing business and the passion that drives it. “It’s difficult to maintain balance between management and creative,” she says. To keep current and stay happy, she dedicates time to design and illustration, and she teaches courses at NAIT and MacEwan. Even now as Woodward Design has taken on more work, the focus remains on quality. “From where we started, we have 10 times the work,” she says, “but we don’t make pie charts [about it]. Can’t we talk about other measures? I look for creative fulfilment and quality over quantity.”
With two other designers on staff, Woodward can now undertake community support. Her studio has become known for providing pro bono services to such organizations as WIN House and Homeward Trust Edmonton, as well as countless hours of design time, discounted services and donations of artwork to other charitable causes.
“It’s challenging, to wear all hats,” she says. “But running a business is a lifestyle.”