Erin Holm will never forget the phone call she got while living in Australia in 2015. It was her father, calling to tell her he had been diagnosed with cancer and had only months to live. Holm moved home to Canada to be with him. In that time, he told her something important.  

“I will never retire, or travel, or do the things I wanted to do. I waited,” he said to Holm.  “You never wait! I envy you. Now be the Erin I raised, and fight to find the job and life that truly makes you happy.” 

After his death in March 2016, Holm moved back to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan. The wood art that she had started crafting in her father’s garage on Vancouver Island as a way to get a break from his bedside, became an outlet for her grief that continued after his passing. That crafting has evolved and now the wood photo transfer prints and home décor designs use Holm’s own photography and designs. She found she could make and sell to friends, family and others, while donating some to cancer lodges. 

“I soon realized that when most evenings and weekends were spent in the shop, there was something here, it was a real business-in-the-making,” Holm said via email. “I was on a contract position and when the term came up, I decided to jump in with both feet into entrepreneurship and started Den Designs in memory of my late father, Dennis.”

With her art being sold in Saskatchewan, Alberta and British Columbia, Holm moved to the Yukon last October and is expanding her business to the territory. She has been working with a number of businesses and companies to share her art with the Yukon. Yukon Brewing was a natural fit.

“I have always been a fan of delicious beer and Yukon Brewing was one of the first places I visited when I moved to town last October,” Holm said. “I was greeted by John in the taproom that day, who happens to also be one of my very first, and loyal, Yukon Den Designs customers.”

Yukon Brewing reached out about a collaboration to expand events at their new taproom that opened this summer and the Meet the Artist event was born. Holm’s art is personal because it uses her own photography and designs that are then transferred onto wood and installations. Photography has always been her passion, but the woodworking is the legacy from her father that empowers the work.

“I have always loved photography and I grew up in a family that loved to capture memories and moments,” Holm said. “My images are taken along my travels and are typically landmark or scenic in nature, making it great for tourists and locals alike. 

“Woodworking was never in my repertoire, but when my dad gifted me his hand tools before passing, I felt the need and desire to put them to good use. I had seen this technique, wood transfer, done before, but I took it a step further by using different types of wood and my own homemade medium.”

She’d like to think of her work as “rustic chic.” The naturally grained wood adds an aged vibe to the recent photography and creates its own identity. Holm’s beer-themed exhibit at the brewery on Nov. 7 is entitled “Thirsty” and will have pieces on display on the tap room walls and for sale during the evening. In honour of her father, Holm also commits 10 per cent from all Den Design sales to support cancer lodges in Western Canada and Yukon Brewing has partnered to share part of proceeds from drink sales that evening as well. Her work can be found at the upcoming Spruce Bog 12 Days of Christmas Boutique in Whitehorse and online at www.DenDesigns.ca.