Ray Hrynkow was born in Edmonton, Alberta in 1953. He grew up playing hockey and loving music. His best friends in high school were either into the Edmonton music scene or developing a love for the arts.
Ray moved to Vancouver in 1973 to attend Vancouver School of Art. It was there that he met Casey Diakiw. Ray and Casey graduated together in 1977 with diplomas in Graphic Design. Even in school, Ray and Casey became involved in the Vancouver Art Director’s club, predecessor to the Society of Graphic Designers of Canada being established in Vancouver.
Ray immediately started off in a partnership with fellow grad and good friend, Rob Bishop. They cut their teeth on mag wheel catalogues and small jobs, working out of a third floor space on Powell Street with an ancient pool table lording over the main space. As a business, it wasn't to be, so Ray moved on to cut vinyl for bus signs for a summer.
That fall, Ray married Casey, beginning a storied 34-year marriage and business partnership.
Ray then got the call to work as an assistant art director at Westworld Magazine. He thrived here and was soon senior art director of an award-winning magazine, helping to promote the careers of young illustrators and photographers like KAth Boake and John Mastromonaco.
When Westworld was sold to Canadawide Magazines, Ray moved on to work on the client side, becoming Marketing Manager at First City Trust. There, he developed skills in retail bank advertising and an interest in annual reports working with Kim Blanchette of Blanchette Press (then MacDonald Printing). Ray and Casey’s first child, Peter, was born in this time of transition, on August 11, 1983. With changes at First City, Ray left to start Herrainco Design Associates with Casey, taking all of the First City work with him. He worked with Derek Murray on The Expo Celebration, a book that documented the World’s Fair as it happened, being published days before the fair ended, and leaving everyone involved in a puddle on the floor.
This began an exciting chapter in Ray's life. While doing great work for First City and Island Paper Mills, Herrainco landed several coveted annual reports: MacMillan Bloedel, BC Gas, Petro-Canada, Methanex and Commonwealth Insurance—all multiple award winners, including AR100 Awards. Ray got more heavily involved with the GDC at this point, taking on the position of Ethics Chair and dealing with a number of controversial issues around spec work.
Island Paper's projects were massive and highly creative. The “Pizza Book” as well as other collateral for Luna was a legendary success in marketing and won countless awards. The Bravo paper launch included an identity, packaging, two feature books, a seven-minute film, a 13-city tour, and all of the attendant collateral. During this busy time, Ray and Casey’s daughter, Cassandra, was born on August 18 of 1988, completing the Hrynkow family.
While the work came in, Herrainco grew to 10 people moving from a smaller office on Powell Street to a bright, spacious office above Inform in Gastown. Herrainco branded Rocky Mountaineer's domed coach service, Burrowing Owl Estate Winery, Sandhill Wines, Vancouver Public Library, Ecco il Pane, Citizens Bank of Canada and Escents Aromatherapy. They also developed numerous successful community campaigns for Tourism Vancouver, all while still producing award-winning annual reports. No matter how busy the company was, though, Ray would sit down with students and spend up to two hours going through their work, suggesting areas where they could improve and encouraging them to continue. Many weeks he would see a person a day.
In 1999, with the economy in a slump, Ray and Casey made the difficult decision to scale back the company. They invited longtime friend and collaborator, Jim Skipp to join them and began another period of creative growth. Jim had worked with the Nisga’a Nation for many years and, with Jim, Ray created beautiful, award-winning work that celebrated the signing of the Nisga’a Final Agreement and that documented the progress of the treaty through tri-partite annual reports. Other First Nations work came in for Xa:tyem Longhouse Interpretive Centre, enTel Communications, the Hul’qu’minum Treaty Group on Vancouver Island.
Together, Ray and Jim worked on award-winning annual reports for Vancouver Art Gallery and ICBC. They designed beautiful books for the BC Golf Museum and Mt. Tremblant. Ray created the branding for the City of Coquitlam and the many brand extensions from it over a five-year period—again, award-winning work.
In 2006, Ray became ill and the decision was made to dissolve the partnership with Jim and move the office into the Hrynkow home, making rooms into offices, so Ray could ease up and bit and Casey could take care of him. Ray and Casey managed a dream trip to Tuscany in late 2006 while Ray juggled chemotherapy after having a massive surgery. There were some relatively healthy years in between, and Ray and Casey were able to see Cassandra graduate from high school as well as travel to Hawaii to see Peter marry the beautiful Kristen Puri on the idyllic island of Lanaii.
Not slowing down, much during this time, Ray rebranded Granville Eyeland Framemakers and designed spectacular websites for Prime Strategies and PWL Partnership Landscape Architects. Working with young protegé, Sarah Lucow (now Taliunas), Ray helped rebrand UBC Campus + Community Planning and the City of Richmond Recycling and Waste Management.
In early 2012, Ray started to lose his epic six-year fight with pancreatic cancer. He passed away at home on March 23, surrounded by his sisters and brother, Casey’s family and his children. Before his death, Ray and Casey established the Ray Hrynkow Scholarship to be awarded to a 3rd year student in a 4-year degree program who shows promise in strategic design thinking.
Ray was exceptionally generous with his time and energy toward the GDC, taking a stint as Ethics chair in the BC Chapter. He mentored countless students and employed dozens of designers who have gone on to great careers. He is missed by the BC design community.