Casey Diakiw was born in 1955 in Toronto, for which she makes no excuses. At a young age, you could find her in her Don Mills bathroom, in front of the mirror, doing toothpaste and deodorant commercials. The die was cast early.
After meandering across the country with her family, she ended up in Vancouver. Having tossed aside her ambitions of being a country veterinarian because her mother said so, Casey went to Vancouver School of Art, where she knew design would be her life. In first year, she met and instantly fell in love with Ray Hrynkow. Ray and Casey graduated together in 1977. Even during their time at Vancouver School of Art, Ray and Casey became involved in the Vancouver Art Director’s club, predecessor to the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada being established in Vancouver.
Casey found a job at Karelia as a buyer and turned it into a job in advertising for their four stores in Canada. She married Ray in 1978.
At that point, Casey decided to start Herrainco Design on her own, with Ray freelancing as he could. Being insanely practical, however, she kept a part-time job at Eaton’s well into the 1980s...just in case. She developed business with Island Paper Mills while Ray began work with First City Trust. In these early days for the GDC, Casey accepted the position of Vice-President and pitched in on Events as well. In August of 1983, their son Peter was born and Casey scarcely missed a beat, continuing to develop business for Herrainco.
Shortly after Ray completed work on The Expo Celebration book in 1986, Ray and Casey made the move to an office on Powell Street in Gastown, hired their first employee and started to grow. Casey kept working on business development, landing first MacMillan Bloedel’s annual report, then one for Commonwealth Insurance, then BC Gas...and it continued that way until they had the opportunity to do two annual reports for Petro-Canada. Casey thrived in the corporate environment, challenging senior executives to see their companies in new ways and communicate to their shareholders in accessible language.
Ray and Casey welcomed their beautiful daughter Cassandra in August of 1988. Casey was able to juggle being with Cass and Peter for brief moments each day and running back to the office in time for meetings.
Some of Ray and Casey’s favorite work was for Island Paper Mills. It was highly involved, exciting and creative. Casey travelled to thirteen cities in the US and Canada with the promotion of Bravo in 1995, showing the film which Ray had art directed and displaying the beautiful books designed to promote the paper. The books were spectacular, using 8X10 photography, custom illustrations and elaborate printing.
Herrainco grew to 10 people and was humming. But in 1999 with the death of Casey’s brother and a downturn in the economy, Ray and Casey made the difficult decision to cut back. They invited longtime friend and collaborator, Jim Skipp to join them and began another period of creative growth.
During this time, Casey began facilitating branding workshops with clients. She worked with the Xa:ytem Longhouse Interpretive Centre to imagine their future and see their brand in that light. She then did work with a Coquitlam neighbourhood called Austin Heights, using co-creation tools to establish the future feel of their neighbourhood. She also worked with dozens of First Nations groups to shape the look and feel of the Aboriginal Tourism Association of BC. Both Casey and Ray became interested in the specialty of design thinking for innovation in branding.
Casey started working on her Bachelors degree at Emily Carr University in 2000, and finished it in 2005. She believes that the critical thinking the degree gave her was an immense boost to her work in using design thinking as a business tool.
In 2006, Ray received a diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, and Ray and Casey reevaluated their lives and business and decided to dissolve their partnership with Jim so that Ray could take it easier, and they could work from their home. They hired a promising grad from Kwantlen University to help them and it turned out to be a great move. Sarah Lucow (now Taliunas) and Ray worked well together and Sarah is hugely supportive of Casey’s work.
Ray and Casey were able to take their dream trip to Tuscany in late 2006 after Ray had endured a huge surgery and while he was in the middle of chemotherapy. They saw Peter married to his beautiful girlfriend, Kristen in Hawaii in 2008.
Casey continued her brand definition work with the Black Sheep Winery, the City of Richmond, Granville Eyeland and Saskatchewan Association of Architects. It has become her area of expertise and the work she finds most rewarding. She began teaching as a sessional instructor at Emily Carr University in 2005 and continues to do so. This work is also incredibly fulfilling for her and she believes that teaching is a great way for those with experience to give back to their profession.
Shortly before Ray’s passing in March of 2012, Ray and Casey established the Ray Hrynkow Scholarship to be awarded to a 3rd year student in a 4-year degree program who shows promise in strategic design thinking. In this way, they hope to promote this cerebral aspect of the design profession as a legacy in Ray’s name.
Casey is still considering a Masters degree and is looking for the next growth spurt for Herrainco.