For Diana Dickson the itch to keep looking onwards and upwards may have been planted early on. Born to European parents in Toronto her childhood was rife with trips abroad, making Dickson a self-described Europhile from the start. Perhaps her bold career viewpoints are stemmed from her exposure to the world at such a young age — or perhaps Dickson’s natural ambition, intelligence, and attitude comprise the lynchpin to her success.
The owner of the staging, design, and decorating firm Diana Dickson Design in Toronto, Ontario. “My knowledge base in visual arts, art direction, and design combined with a practical, innovative working style offers a proven method for transforming problem properties into highly desirable ones.”
Art, design, innovation — three key ingredients in this recipe for success. And, of course, one other: Dickson herself.
“I am artsy, intuitive and gutsy,” says Dickson when asked what three words could describe herself and her career. “I often venture where angels fear to tread because basically I’m adventurous and trust myself.”
With her heart drawn to art and music from an early age and a passion that has never waned it is little wonder that she has been married to a professional photographer for 24 years. The couple has two children, a son who is 23 and a daughter who is 21.
For Dickson, like many women, starting a family and raising her children didn’t come without its own share of career choices. “I think women are still faced with the struggle of juggling family life and their career aspirations. I left a great job in advertising to raise my kids because at that point in my life my kids were the most important thing to me and I really wanted to focus on them. I was adopted myself, and an only child, so it was very important for me to do the family thing above all else.”
The decision to take time to start a family didn’t come without a price, however. “I knew I would have to change gears and forge a new career for myself that could combine my talents with my need to be flexible and available for my kids,” she says, a move which has made Dickson dynamic and focused.
“That wasn’t easy,” she explains. “But it started with freelance work as a garden designer and eventually came to include the whole domestic sphere, indoors and out.”
Her womanhood — and motherhood — may have made influenced her career path, but at the same time her perspective as a woman in business has given her a more unique outlook. “I do think that my perspective as a woman has guided me in my career,” she explains. “I believe in the importance of the softer side of life and of beauty and order in one’s surroundings.” Softness, beauty, and order have long been in the female sphere of influence, says Dickson, who draws from these concepts regularly in her design and home setting work.
“There’s also a nurturing quality to what I do. I listen to what people need and want, and I try to deliver because I want to see them happy. I love transforming things for the better. But I really take the time to understand my clients.”
“The yin-yang thing really works for me,” says Dickson, but don’t think she’s afraid of shouting out in the name of girl power. “I’m not afraid of pumping up the feminine energy because the world really needs it.”
Her nurturing quality also seems to extend to her chosen projects. “At the moment, I’m focusing on projects that turn dysfunctional spaces into ones that work,” says Dickson. “Simplifying complexity.”
But for a woman as involved as Dickson there is always something to do. Currently working on a series of paintings centered around bromeliad flowers in her free time, she also serves as Chair on the board of the non-profit Gallery 1313 art gallery in Toronto’s west end that focuses on new and emerging art. “I’m always on the lookout for new and interesting work!”
For Diana Dickson though, the art is always behind everything she does. “I’m moving more towards the concept of art and how it can transform one’s surroundings.”
In the painting of Diana’s life there are still many more brushstrokes to come.
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