01.13 Limitless: Local artist Tonya Grifkin brings the magic with Make Me A Dragon

By Alyssa LaManna

In one huff, a dragon can scorch a castle to ruins; it can guard a princess locked away in a tower and summon brave warriors to raise their swords. While these stories were once upon a time, 31-year-old, Tonya Grifkin, creator and artist of Make Me a Dragon, brings the magical creatures to life as she asks the simple question: Wouldn’t it be easier if we made you your very own dragon?

At MakeMeaDragon.com, customers are the brain behind the artwork as they leave a detailed description of their supreme critter.

“Most requests are really personal,” Grifkin said. “That’s what keeps it fun for me. People seem to really appreciate it.” Then, like magic, Grifkin designs an 8- by 10-inch, one-of-a-kind dragon masterpiece. On average, Grifkin completes five or six portraits a week, and it is clear that she takes pride in her illustrations. “I’m taking something I love and combining it with what others love.”

So here’s the real question: Why dragons?

“I love dragons. As a kid they always appealed to me because they’re limitless. A dragon can be anything,” Grifkin explained. Anything is an understatement, as her website, Etsy page and Facebook are exploding with dragons of all sorts and sizes. From a Mad Hatter dragon, a juggling dragon and a bumblebee dragon to a dragon made out of bones, the sky’s the limit.

After Grifkin opened her own studio and spent years teaching private art lessons, Make Me A Dragon began as a creative push from her husband. The left brain of this mystical operation, he noted that some of Grifkin’s best work came from artwork she created for others

“It was the collaborative nature and guidelines that helped. I would have never thought of a dragon knitting on my own.”

Since June, Make Me A Dragon has transformed into an imaginative station for the creative mind, dragon lover or not. What began as just dragon designs has continued to evolve into greeting cards, T-shirts and coloring books.

“I was always disappointed with coloring books. They were either way too difficult or too simple,” Grifkin said. Now, you can find her Dragon Friends coloring books locally and on her Etsy site.

What’s next? “I want to see my dragons all over everything,” Grifkin laughed.

For the future of Make Me A Dragon, expect merchandise, celebrity dragons and the hope of a children’s book down the road. This creative outlet that has taken on the shape of a friendly winged friend is the product of a quirky women’s desire to share a little magic with the world, one dragon at a time.