Branching out – Invest Medicine Hat

Branching out

Creative City / News / People / Professional Services / Start-up Culture

Kim Harper is growing her graphic design business throughout Western Canada from her home-base in Medicine Hat.

August 3, 2017

Since launching her graphic design firm Pentool Creative in 2016, Kim Harper has been part of a global movement of designers who are leveraging technology and co-workspaces to build their business.

“My business has been growing outside of Medicine Hat with clients in Calgary, Saskatoon, Edmonton and Yellowknife,” says Harper. “Skype and e-mail make it easy to connect with them from wherever I choose to work.”

Proving creativity can happen anywhere, Harper designed the 100-page strategy for Thrive Medicine Hat, an organization whose mission is to end poverty in the city by 2030. The initiative was funded by the Family and Community Support Services Association of Alberta and a $25,000 grant from the City of Medicine Hat.

Downtown Medicine Hat’s Compass Co-Work Space serves as Pentool Creative’s home base, where Harper built up her solo graphic design firm shortly after graduating from Medicine Hat College with an applied degree in Visual Communications. It’s a smart move, as Canada’s graphic design industry reached $2 billion in revenues last year, according to IBIS World. Professional graphic designers like Harper are in demand as companies turn to marketing to compete in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

Harper is part of a growing contract workforce that’s seeing more professionals move toward flexible schedules and unconventional workplaces. In fact, Intuit Canada forecasts that Canada’s workforce is expected to be made of 45% freelancers and contractors by 2020 while Statistics Canada reports that more than 75% of graphic designers are self-employed.

Alongside the growing contract workforce, the 2017 Report on Global Cities identified an increased demand for unique office spaces for creatives in advertising, creative and technology industries while co-workspace provider Regas rents to more than one million professionals per day.

Harper’s work with Medicine Hat’s Thrive initiative to end poverty lead to similar work with Edmonton and Yellowknife groups. Meanwhile, she is also working on branding projects in Saskatoon and Calgary. All of this is done through Pentool’s home base in Medicine Hat, where she is able to grow her business and reach clients across Western Canada.