Hi! I’m Vanessa Raven-Vipond owner of Sea Salt design.
Located in the beautiful Comox Valley, British Columbia, Canada, Sea Salt design offers creative solutions for businesses of all sizes around the world.
Specializing in Custom Illustration, Logo, Branding Identity Systems, Print, Web and Apparel design.
I can help you bring your ideas to reality. Contact me today for a free consultation.
Born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, I enjoyed an amazing childhood in a city rich in Arts and Culture. Many of my earliest influences came from my surroundings in the bustling multicultural city of Toronto. There, I grew up visiting museums and galleries, going to the Ballet and Pantomimes and a variety of other theater productions. I always wanted to do something in the arts.
The theater was a place where performance artists, fine artists, musicians, fashion designers and commercial artists all came together to create an ultimate experience. I have always enjoyed the idea of that collaboration of skills coming together to create something special and have kept every program book and ticket stub from every theatrical experience that I was lucky enough to have.
My grandmother taught me how to draw. Her father was a painter and worked for a Lithographic Printer and she had always wanted to be a Children’s Picture Book Illustrator. We would spend hours coming up with funny characters and scenes on paper. I always wanted to be a Children’s Book Illustrator as well, which is what led me to the world of Visual Communications.
One day, my parents decided that they had had enough of their big city jobs and our big city lives and follow their dreams of opening a Bed & Breakfast business by the sea. Just before my 16th birthday, we packed up and moved to a small town in Prince Edward Island, right off of Canada’s East Coast and they opened: The Raven Inn, Bed & Breakfast. They had bought a very old house built in the 1920s, situated on the original homestead of the Stewart Family complete with the remains of their 200 year old house and various other old structures, on 55 acres of woodland, just minutes from the beach.
Though, I initially hated the move from the city that I loved, I soon grew to appreciate the natural beauty, rich history and friendly culture of the Maritimes that has always been loved and admired around the world. In fact, it is where my career actually began.
My career started when I was just 16 years old, when the local sign shop who designed my parent’s B&B sign, hired me as an assistant. It was there they I learned about Typography, Colour, Composition, Illustration, Vinyl Cutting, Sandblasting and a toolbox of other handy skills that have served me well ever since.
Also, while still in high school I was hired by the Arts Council of Canada to teach basic painting classes to seniors.
Once graduating from high school, I became an entrepreneur when I drew portraits for tourists in the local town. It helped me to build a portfolio that lead to other commissions and helped me to earn some money for College. I had considered returning to Toronto to attend one of the many Art Colleges there. At one time I had even considered moving to Savannah Georgia to study at the prestigious Savannah College of Art and Design, but I decided to stay on PEI and studied Visual Communications at Holland College in Charlottetown.
My time at Holland College was an amazing experience. One of my instructors was Sandy Carruthers, co creator of the successful Comic and movie Series Men in Black. Sandy is still a great influence and mentor to me today. I also had the privilege of meeting and working with other great artists there, like Nigel Roe (well respected textile artist from Montreal), Henry Purdy (Award Winning Fine Artist) and Erica Rutherford (Children’s Picture book Illustrator). Among my class mates, Daniel McKinnon, now the Creative Director for Chatelaine Magazine and Benjamin MacDonald, now the Art Director for The Globe and Mail.
I later studied Illustration in Halifax at the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, under illustrator Bruce Brown.
I took on many freelance jobs while studying, including a series of brochures for The Heart and Stroke Foundation. Right after graduation, I worked for Strategis a division of Industry Canada, designing websites for start up businesses and nonprofits.
Later, I worked in prepress at Kinkos Canada, (now owned by FedEx) and was a regular editorial and cover Illustrator for a Halifax Magazine called City Wide Alert and their Menus of Greater Halifax publication. I gained a lot of work from their advertisers as well, solely designing Menus for local pubs for about a year and then one day at a local pub, I met a Sailor.
Seems like a cliche to meet a Sailor in a Halifax Bar, but i did and six months later, he invited me to move West to Victoria, B.C. at his first posting with the Navy. So, we headed West and several years later got married.
In Victoria, I thought, I’d better find a job, so I went door to door to downtown businesses with my Portfolio. I was immediately hired by a local printing company, where I worked for the next four years. There, I enjoyed many positions including in Bindery, Client Services and eventually Corporate Accounts. I learned a lot about printing and preparing quotes.
One day the owners decided to sell their business and pursue other dreams, so I was out of work again. In school they used to tell us, ” in this business you could be out of a job at 10am and have a new job by noon,” and they were right. I walked straight across the street with my portfolio and was hired by a local Screen Printing company the very same day.
I didn’t know anything about Screen Printing when I applied for the job and I was honest about that, but they liked my illustrations and designs and hired me to design T-shirts and Gifts geared toward women and children for the Tourist Souvenir Market. I enjoyed a huge amount of Creative freedom there over the next four years and learned a great deal about Design and Screen Printing as well as marketing and sales. I even assumed the role of Art Director for a time and managed freelance artists from all over North America.
Sadly, the company was bought out by a larger company in Montreal called Attraction and all of the designs that I created over those years are owned by them. I still see some of my work on T-shirts in gifts shops in Victoria and Jasper, Edmonton and I will assume all across Canada. I am quite flattered that they still reproduce my designs, but, next time, I should draw up a licensing agreement to gain some royalties I guess.
However, with my experience and connections there, I was able to launch my very own line of T-shirts and Greeting cards called Diva Doodles, which i sold at outdoor markets and in local shops like Oscar and Libby in Market Square, in Victoria and continue to refine my portfolio.
I was soon hired by another local screen printer in the same kind of position, but a week after I was hired, I found out that i was pregnant with my first child. I worked there right up until my son was born and then I went on Maternity Leave, with the intention of returning to that position in-house afterwards. Unfortunately, my husband, who was now with the Air Force, was posted again, this time to Comox, three hours North of Victoria. So, we packed up and moved again.
While staying at home with my son, I began to reconnect with past employers and connections and was fortunate enough to do some freelance illustration and design with them for many years while enjoying the time with my son. I enjoyed working with many other wonderful companies including The Georgia Music Hall of Fame, in Macon Georgia, Moon Beam Baby in Austin Texas, Scuba Togs in London UK and The Yukon Worker’s Health and Safety Board in White Horse, Canada.
The course ended in 2011 and I returned to freelance full-time, until 2013, just before my daughter was born. During that time, I created a debut CD package for singer songwriter, Tracy Cha Cha McKinnon, which was a lot of fun.
My daughter was diagnosed at the age of 5 months old with a severe Congenital Heart Defect and given a 50/50 chance of survival only with a Heart Transplant. Needless to say, my work and career was put on hold for the next two years, while I spent a chunk of time between Comox and in Vancouver trying to save her life. Sadly, in July 2015, a month after receiving what should have been a life saving Heart Transplant, our beautiful little girl passed away.
Our family took some time off after that, but soon regrouped and got back to school, for our son, and work for my husband and myself. I quickly started to let people know that I had started a new business, now called Sea Salt design and I have been growing and taking on more and more amazing clients ever since.
My experiences, obstacles, difficulties and challenges in life have only made me stronger and my work and skills more dynamic. I continue to grow, learn, experiment and discover every day inventing new ways to serve my clients that much better.