Designer of the Week: Crystal Reynolds


Crystal-Reynolds-20150501-bw-bHave you ever been in the presence of someone who “shows up” in a very authentic way in life? It’s easy to find yourself drawn to a person like that, someone who is just being themselves, loving what they do—and, naturally, rocking it out. If you’ve ever met Designer of the Week Crystal Reynolds, perhaps at HOW Design Live, we’re willing to bet you experienced this in her presence. And if not, well, reading on to learn more about this self-proclaimed paper nerd and lover of publication design will show you that magnetic qualities can come through even on a computer screen.

Name: Crystal Reynolds

Name of Studio: Crystal Ink

Location: Calgary, AB Canada

Design school attended:
Life. Just doing It and asking questions as I go. Self-inspired more than taught. I always had an opinion on how designs should look during my first job after graduating with a Kinesiology degree. I was lucky to have an employer, The University of Calgary, who gave me the opportunity to expand my design skills through the work and continuing education classes on campus. I consider myself lucky to be working in the creative industry, and wake up every day over the past 18 years thinking, “Wow, I get to design stuff today!” I have never felt entitled in my work. I am very humbled as part of the classroom of life filled with so many visionaries that I can only aspire to.

How would you describe your work?
I am a self-diagnosed paper nerd. Creating publications by pulling the pieces of the “puzzle” together makes me feel like a kid playing in the the proverbial sandbox. There is something about working with great words, images and illustrations and puzzling them together to create the full story is, well, fun. I am a print designer who doesn’t like to read, who creates tactile experiences in layouts that both encourage reading as well as clarity at a glance [of] what one will find if they delve into the story.


Where do you find inspiration?
Everywhere … curiosity is my greatest inspiration. A big part of that is connecting with creative peers. I find that when creatives connect, we help each other find the answers inside ourselves.

Who are some of your favorite designers or artists?
You always remember your first; for me it was meeting Janine Vangool when I was first starting out. She was Vangool Design back then and evolved into the one-woman publishing empire, UPPERCASE Magazine. Her sense of style and creative eye combined with smart business savvy is quite a phenomenon to watch in action. Over the last few years I have been thrilled to meet design industry leaders since attending, and continuing to attend the HOW Design Live Conferences. One that stands out would be Debbie Millman; I love her design podcasts and how it makes you feel welcomed and part of the story. I also admire Stefan Mumaw, his wonderful writing and speaking style that turns things around and makes you feel like the star of the show, cueing into all our innate creative skills, and bringing them out.

Do you have a favorite among all the projects you’ve worked on?
After 18 years how do you pick one without the rest feeling bad? I have been privileged to have designed hundreds of designs. The highlight for me would be when I think back to a love affair with day planners I have had since high school. There was always something empowering about defining my own future with the simple act of writing it down. Over the years I kept searching for the right planner tool and almost found one—but what hindered my creative side was the over-designed feel of the pages. I needed a space that gave me structure but also space to be creative.

myLife-myWeek-cover-publication-design myLife-week-insidecover-publication-design myLife-myWeek-content-publication-design

In a personal endeavour I bit the bullet and designed and printed/published 100 of my own myDay planners. I created them for myself and used them as self-promotion pieces for clients and prospects as well as gifts for friends and colleagues. What surprised me was the positive reaction to the piece, and from there I am working to evolve myLife Planners into a viable passive income. (I will let you know when that actually happens.)

As my design and business has evolved I found an affinity for publication design. Magazines, reports and books. Out of those working with Elan Performance on her NOURISH Cookbook, to laying out the the established and growing Canadian Scrapbooker quarterly magazine. As a big fan of HOW Design Live, the opportunity to create event and marketing pieces showcasing this exciting resource to my creative peers is both amazing and humbling at the same time.

Is there a project that stands out to you as having been the biggest challenge of your career so far?
For me, designing isn’t the hard part of creative projects. The real challenge I have found is communication with the client to make sure we are on the same page. Finding the right mix of your own expertise, a client’s vision and tie that in with a mutually appropriate budget. This comes from experience and a willingness to truly listen to clients and their needs as well as your own gut when finding the right fit.

What do you hope to accomplish in the future?
As a creative, I find I come up with a lot of ideas. Some of those I have opted to put my time and money into where my creative vision led. This course of action has managed to fragment my focus and ability to pitch my work in a clear way. I recently stood up in a group of professionals with the intention of doing a pitch on my business and found my mind went blank. This confirmed for me that I have some serious work to do on my Crystal Ink brand. I will be working on a cohesive branding/message that combines my love of publication design, connecting with creatives and creating products. I am working to leverage my expertise with the work I love and grow my business in a way that fits my vision of a solopreneur lifestyle.

What’s your best advice for designers today?
So here is the thing: I must confess, I am not “cool,” and I feel like a mess most of the time. There are those times I am rocking it, but only because I have survived the chaos that is the life of a solo designer.

I really believe that if more creatives had a feeling of creative validity, then the potential of the creative community would sky rocket. The more we value ourselves, the more we respect others. Not basing decisions on fear or because of the “norm,” but push the boundaries to do better.

On that note, get out and just create what you want to promote and your value. Stay curious and open and be willing to not only continue to learn and but also evolve and roll with the punches. Don’t ever dismiss the value of your creative work—you shape the world around you. When I created my Creative’s Cupboard publication, it was from a place of wonder and appreciation for the creative community. Because I chose to take the risk and share it, my work is now being noticed by others outside my own circle.




Canadian Scrapbooker quarterly magazine



Schedule created for HOW Design Live 2015


Creative’s Cupboard publication





mds-paperlovers-500Paper Lover’s Bundle

Calling all paper lovers! This bundle is the perfect combination for anyone who wants to stimulate creativity and learn basic and advanced paper folding techniques.

This bundle includes:

A Collection of Paper Options: Feed your creativity with this inspirational notebook designed by artist Jason Polan. The pages inside feature 12 hand-drawn patterns – stimulate your creativity and incorporate them into your design projects!

Paper Folding Templates for Print Design: In Paper Folding Templates for Print Design, the industry expert on folding, Trish Witkowski of, gives you tips and tricks for mastering the art of paper folding. She starts with the basics and moves on to advanced concepts, giving you low to high budget options. If you’re on a budget, no problem. If you’ve got a particularly special project, she’ll show you how to make it look amazing, sparing no expense.