Artist Profile: Kari Woo

Posted by on Apr 4, 2017 in Blog

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Artist Profile: KARI WOO

Although we work hard on creating the best show we can, it is really the artists that we bring to our show that make it so amazing. Our “Artist Profiles” highlight the immense talent that makes SFM so great. Take a minute to get to know one of our founding members and practicing artist, Kari Woo. She is the SHINY one 😉

                                                                    photo credit: Alexis McKeown

How did you get started & how long have you been in business?

In 1993 I had a snowboarding accident that left me immobile for a number of weeks due to a severe knee injury. During my recovery I enrolled in a beginner jewellery night class. As soon as I laid my hands on the material, that was it. It was love at first make! After a couple more novice level workshops I was self-directed in my learning for a further 5 years before I decided to go to art school to amp up my skill set. Since I graduated with my BFA from ACAD (Calgary, AB) in 2003 I have been designing and making jewellery full time. During these years I have also collaborated with others to open up a brick + mortar shop (INFLUX Jewellery Gallery, 2004-11) and create events such as the SFM show in Vancouver.  

Why do you make the art you do?

It’s my natural tendency, I suppose. It’s very interesting because my creative space, living space and life in general are busy, chaotic and cluttered, but my designs are simplistic and minimalist. It’s like I can shed all of the busy-ness and distill what is really meaningful to me, or at least what I strive for, through my creative process.

How do you balance art practice and business practice?

That’s a hard dance to dance.

It’s a constant challenge to do what needs to be done on a practical level if I am feeling really inspired and creative. I always have to make a choice – do I do what I want to do today, or what I have to do? My decision is based on the severity of what needs to get done and how close a deadline is. Being practical and responsible can often overshadow what I want to be spending my time on creatively, so I’ve found that I actually have to commit to clearing time on my calendar to immerse myself in creative process.

photo credit: Alexis McKeown

Where do you find your audience(s) and what is the most effective way to reach them?

I have a multi-faceted approach. In the beginning I put myself out there constantly through many different types of art events – community fairs, private functions, tradeshows and running a shop. This was a great way to build relationships that have had a lot of impact on my career and was a great way to get in front of my audience. Over the years I’ve compiled a great email list and keep in touch with folks through periodic e-newsletters. This has been a realIy important tool since I am not participating in as many shows these days and so not face to face with people. In recent years, social media channels have also allowed me to connect with those interested in my creative output. I also sell my work through venues such as galleries, boutiques and museum gift shops as well as online.

What do your customers love about your work?

The simplicity, the versatility and the quality. Most of all I believe they love what the pieces mean to them.

What tips/advice do you have for people who want to start their creative business?

Commit. You have to commit. And you have to have a vision for yourself and then plan accordingly based on that vision.

Do you have any mentors?

Absolutely! Among them I would say my undergraduate instructors from ACAD – Charles Lewton-Brain, Dee Fontans and Sarabeth Carnat. Peter Von Tiesenhausen, an Alberta painter, sculptor and mixed media artist has been a big influence, and Tom McFall, the Executive Director of the Alberta Craft Council. I also had the chance to study with an amazing American art jeweller and sculptor, J. Fred Woell, in 2001/2002 and he had a really profound impact on me. He was a total rebel in terms of traditional jewellery making and through him I learned a lot about how to take risks creatively, be innovative and push the limits of our materials we use as art jewellers.

What informs your work/inspires you?

Nature! It’s a total cliche, but it’s totally true. The idea that there is perfection in imperfection and that less is more. Modern sculpture and architecture make me giddy. The amazing and ever-evolving works of my peers and colleagues always makes me want to work harder and do my best.

photo credit: Alexis McKeown

Where do you find your creative community?

A number of my closest friends are people I met at art school. That was such a bonding experience! These are the folks I’ve gone on to collaborate with on a number of creative projects and with each one, the spectrum of connections seems to widen.

What do you do for fun?

I love spending time with friends and family, especially outside doing something fun like hiking or skiing!

I go to yoga regularly, which has saved my body, and is fun at the same time! One of my most favourite guilty pleasures is eating out. I could do it every day! No dishes (now that’s fun)!


Kari Woo is a jewellery and mixed media artist based out of Canmore, AB.  Her distinct line of contemporary art jewellery aims to create substance and meaning through design. Kari is a fine art school graduate, a former brick + mortar shop owner, an event organizer, community collaborator and aspiring sculptor.

Frances Dickinson has been working with textiles for over 20 years. Frances Felt clothing and accessories pairs colour and texture with the wonderful whimsy of process. Designing clothes and accessories for women that are flattering, a pleasure to wear and truly unique is her goal.

Janna Hurtzig is a self taught artisan, combining years of retail experience and running two successful handmade labels since 1998. Her current endeavour, Winterluxe Recycled Cashmere, finds Janna selling at 11 markets annually across Canada as well as organizing SFM, pop up shops and trunk shows.

Mixed media painter, Arleigh Wood, works out of her Parker Street studio in Vancouver, Canada. Her work is represented by Art Interiors in Toronto and by Vancouver Art Gallery Rental and Sales.