If it only took 20-30 minutes to create a memory that will last a lifetime, would you want it? How about if it captured gentle loops of your toddler’s hair, the carefree jaunt of your teen’s baseball hat or the stoic pose of your beloved dog?
Caroline DeKrey owns Sweet Silhouette Co., which she opened in March 2020. After she was unable to find a silhouette artist who met her expectations, DeKrey, a speech-language pathologist, took matters into her own hands—literally. “I could not find anyone local or online that featured all the specific elements of the art I envisioned, so I resolved to learn the trade myself,” she says. “I enjoyed illustrating my own children’s' portraits so much I decided to open my online Etsy shop.”
For too many businesses, opening during the pandemic was not the perfect plan, but DeKrey’s timing might have been on target. “Silhouette portrait art is currently enjoying a burst of popularity,” the Maple Grove resident says. “The simplistic nature of the black and white portraits complements a large number of popular home decor styles right now, including modern farmhouse, transitional, minimalist and shabby chic. In my opinion, there will always be a place for silhouettes in keepsake art and family memorabilia; silhouettes display a person's profile features in a unique way not typically captured in photos.”
Ideally suited for social distancing, transactions are handled virtually. “Customers electronically submit photos of the person or pet and specify any customizations or personalization they would like,” DeKrey says. “I [digitally] illustrate the silhouette portrait and then send the completed silhouette art as a digital JPEG file. Customers are able to print their digital files at home, a print shop or photo center. It is the perfect no-contact business in the era of social distancing.”
Also a sign of the times, DeKrey’s materials don’t include specialty scissors and cardstock paper, as were and are used in a more traditional version of silhouette art. “My silhouette illustration is completed digitally using Photoshop,” she says, noting this allows her to capture more detail, such as individual strands of hair. “Other advantages of digital silhouette art include the opportunity to easily do revisions on the art if requested, quick delivery of the files to customers, unlimited printing and reproduction by the customer and the ability to easily transform the silhouette art files into other products, such as save-the-dates or thank you notes,” she says.
DeKrey describes her style as “realistic with a touch of whimsy. I want to honor the true profile of the subject, but I do exaggerate the subject's eyelashes and take some liberties when illustrating the hair,” she says. “I like to fix any distracting elements, such as stray hairs, strange head tilts or double chins related to unnatural posture, as I know firsthand how difficult it can be to get a young child to cooperate for the submission photo.”
Children are her most popular subject. “My specialty, and I believe what sets me apart from other silhouette artists, is the layered sibling silhouette portraits,” DeKrey says. “My second bestseller is silhouette portraits featuring personalized accessories, such as hair bows and glasses.” She’s also completed silhouettes of dogs, couples holding hands, parents holding children or people walking with pets and transforming the photo subjects into full-body silhouette portraits. $19.99 per person/$14.99 per pet/custom orders accepted