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Women and Girls: A creative eye for business (6 photos)

Local maker and artist, Linda Brown, is creating masterpieces in the art and business world.

Born and raised in Thunder Bay, Linda Brown is a known creator in the streets of Thunder Bay. With a background in fine arts at Lakehead University, her career spans many facets of fine arts education, including time spent at the University of Alberta – Edmonton, as well as Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.

Her life as a maker and business owner has seen many years, but the most impactful year was when Covid-19 created a new outlet for her business Northern Lights Gallery and Studio.

In its 17th year as a brick and mortar at 316 Bay Street, Northern Lights Gallery went from in-person to strictly online, creating a whole new dimension for Brown to exhibit and sell her pieces.

“I have developed a strong following of clientele and I made the decision [to close] quite quickly [because] this would be too much for my little business to handle,” she says about her decision to close the doors.

Brown went looking for advice on how to shift her business from a brick and mortar to an online system and reached out to PARO. By doing this she was able to adjust her business model to fit an online environment.

From past to present

Looking back, Brown says she’s always been a maker. From dolls as a child to clothes in high school, she followed in her mother’s footsteps and began creating at a young age.

She was introduced to metal casting at Lakehead in the 1970s and in 1996 spent time at her sister’s bench in British Columbia to learn basic jewellry making, which was the beginning of her career.

“For artists and makers, jewellry is one of the ways of actually making an income… doing that allowed me a creative area to work in and where I could also make a living,” she says about the beginning of her masterful career in Thunder Bay. Brown turned a passion that most artists need to supplement with different incomes, into her bread and butter.

Opening the gallery in 2003, Brown started operating the storefront full-time in 2009, creating a business most artists dream of one day creating. Through this success she adapted to the ongoing changes Covid-19 brought to the world.

“The big thing that I’ve learned from this is that it’s essential for us to be organic to survive. You have to adjust to what is around us and affecting us. I think that applies to everything in life. If we stay in the same dimension when everything is changing around us it’s very difficult to survive,” Brown says, relating her growth and adaptation of business to her artistic inspiration.

She says when she looks at her fellow businesspeople, the ones who are changing their business structure to the changing environment are the ones who are successful.

From art to business

Brown’s muse is the world around her, specifically the growth and connection to the natural landscape of Thunder Bay.

“My inspiration is drawn a lot from the landscape we live in.”

By taking flat sheet metal and laying a texture onto that metal, Brown changes the structure of the metal in an action of growth, moving the metal into pieces of organic beauty through this process.

“I’m inspired by nature and growth and I’m inspired by the metal and what the metal can do.”

Her silversmithing talents are also at the core of her success, making objects such as jewellry and bowls from non-ferrous metals.

Brown is inspired by the creative energy around and within her to then create masterpieces that have given her the household name she holds in Thunder Bay.

A new model into success

Going forward, Brown will be keeping up with the online sales of her now online business. She’s also taking this opportunity to broaden her work that isn’t necessarily income-based work, but instead the fine arts-based work.

She’s also excited to see the next generation of makers and artists creating a path that’s adapting to the new way of artistic and entrepreneurial success.

“It’s really inspiring to see our younger generation being the leaders in [this change].”

View and purchase Brown’s creations at and visit her on Instagram @northernlightsgallerystudio

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