Dean Crouser – Artist Guest Post

Dean Crouser

As a kid, I was always drawing and loved any type of project that involved making things – craft projects, woodworking, painting, etc. When I was 10, I remember receiving an art kit for Christmas. It was wonderful. The kit had a series of pencils and charcoals, but the best part were the watercolors. Not the hard pans like at school, but real watercolor paint in tubes. I practiced for hours. The movement this medium could take seemed like absolute magic. Looking back, I really don’t think I was particularly good, but I absolutely loved the process of putting paint on paper. And just like a kid who receives a set of golf clubs for Christmas, if you go out and play 18 holes every day, one day you’re just going to be able to golf. And one day along the way I was just able to paint.

Fishing trip to the Florida Keys.

Summers growing up were spent camping, fishing, and hiking around Oregon.  It was then I developed a real love of the outdoors which continues to this day and is the inspiration of most of my art. I still make an effort to get out as often as possible; whether it be fishing, camping or photography.

Somewhere along the way my wife, Molly, suggested that I paint something other than a fish or fishing scenes.  I remembered wondering “What else is there?”  Being a master gardener, she suggested painting a hummingbird.  It was at this point my career was sent into another direction – nature and wildlife.

20″x30″ hummingbird wall art print for DEMDACO.

About five years ago I was contacted by DEMDACO.  They had seen some of my work and were interested in licensing my art.  At the time, I was doing about 15 regional art shows a year as well as selling to a few local shops and galleries. I had always hoped of branching out and the possibility of teaming with a company like DEMDACO was very exciting as it provided an opportunity to share my work with people I could never have dreamed of otherwise.

As an artist, I believe one of the most rewarding aspects is the ability to ‘strike a chord’ with someone else, most likely a complete stranger who sees your art and wants to take it home. DEMDACO has a mission to “Lift the Spirit” in the products they develop and sell.  For me, this is really what it’s all about – making someone feel good by simply brightening their day. Whether it’s an item for their own home they enjoy every day or a special gift for a friend or relative, ‘Lifting the Spirit’ is a wonderful thing to share. I feel very blessed to be a professional artist, and if my work can brighten someone’s day, it certainly brightens mine as well.

— Dean Crouser

Lifting the Spirit: Community Involvement

DEMDACO colleagues setting up the holiday store at Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City. Patients get to shop for their parents with “DEMDACO Dollars.”

At DEMDACO, we strive to see business primarily as a human interaction, rather than merely a financial one. That is why our mission is lift the spirit. This perspective shapes us, particularly when it comes to community involvement. For us, community involvement is a part of our “why”, not simply something we’ve been able to do.

Like others, we follow the philosophy that, for a company, profit is like air. We need it to breathe, but it’s not the reason we live. Profit allows a company to invest in itself, and in its community.

DEMDACO colleagues in in our Minneapolis office making blankets for Sharing and Caring Hands, a local nonprofit that helps the homeless.

Community involvement is an important way we measure whether we are lifting spirits. It might be with a financial donation to an organization or a product donation for a fundraising event. It’s also the way our colleagues use their community time off (CTO). Each year, every DEMDACO colleague receives CTO—two paid days off to volunteer at the organization of their choice. It is one of the ways we believe best demonstrates our Lift the Spirit mission. Both the DEMDACO colleague and the organization benefit.

What are some ways you are involved in your community? How are you lifting spirits where you live, work, and play? Please Comment below and start the conversation.

Winter Show Review

(l to r) Paul Morrison, Customer Services Manager; Kerry Cusato, Divisional VP – OneCoast; Frank Davis, VP of Sales; Lance Hart, President

What a wonderful time we had at the winter shows with all of our colleagues, customers and partners! Thank you to everyone who stopped by one of our showrooms at the AmericasMart in Atlanta, the Dallas Market Center in Dallas or the World Market Center in Las Vegas.

Dave Kiersznowski, Owner, offering a toast and thanking everyone at our 20th Anniversary Kickoff.

We kicked things off in Atlanta with a ribbon cutting ceremony to mark our 20th anniversary in the gift industry. In honor of our company mission, we have chosen lift the spirit as our theme for this special celebratory year. That evening, our owner, David Kiersznowski, proposed a toast to our colleagues, customers and partners who have made our 20 years possible. A huge thank you to everyone who joined us. The evening felt like a fun reunion as we celebrated with former colleagues, current and former artists and many others.

Kansas City artist Seth Jones creating art featuring the work of Blood:Water

We’re also grateful to continue our partnership with Blood:Water.  Blood:Water is a U.S. based relief organization that partners with local African organizations to address the HIV/AIDS and water crises.  We currently have a space in our AmericasMart showroom that gives customers a place to rest and be introduced to the work of Blood:Water.  Stop by and visit if you’re there.  AmericasMart Suite 685.

Best Visual Presentation Award in Dallas (l to r) Frank Davis, VP of Sales; Jonathan Jones, Cultural Conversation Leader; Jim Lugannani, VP of Leasing – Dallas Market Center

At the Dallas Market, we were humbled to receive the Best Visual Presentation award presented to exhibitors with fresh, innovative and creative displays.  We have one of the best showroom design teams in the industry and we are grateful for the amazing work they do.

Willow Tree artist, Susan Lordi, signs her piece, For Always.

Although we were welcomed to Las Vegas by rare thunderstorms, that didn’t seem to dampen anyone’s spirits as we finished up the show season at the World Market Center. Our friend and Willow Tree artist, Susan Lordi, was on hand to sign her tender new piece, For Always. Susan is always a highlight of our shows, and we appreciate our customers who waited in line to meet her.

We’re working hard this spring and look forward to seeing everyone at the summer shows!

Lift the Spirit Awards

At DEMDACO, our mission is to lift the spirit.  We strive to do that with our colleagues, partners, and products.  For the past several years we’ve gotten feedback from our OneCoast sales partners on customers who are lifting the spirit in their communities.  At the end of each year we’ve awarded the lift the spirit Award to each of these customers and made a donation to a local charity of their choice.  We are happy to announce the 2016 lift the spirit Award winners.

Please visit these retailers if you live in their area.  🙂

The Cross Eyed Owl in Valatie, NY
The Lighthouse Gift Shop in Seward, AK
Linda’s Halmark in Knoxville, TN
Reny’s in Newcastle, ME
Nemacolin Woodland Resort in Farmington, PA


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