CREATIVITY THAT HEALS

I was honored to be interviewed by FlintPeople.com recently. Here's a teaser...

FP: Can you think back to a big win, a celebratory moment for Art with Heart?

SL: Art with Heart is peppered with them! Miracles & celebrations and unexpected blessings. One unexpected blessing that happened early on which I’m still amazed at – we had divided the printing of “Oodles of Doodles” up between many printers. One of the printers called up and said – I can’t do the 10,000 that you want me to do. I’m going to fall short by 750. So we were going to be left with uneven books. The next day I received a phone call that said, “Hey, I just found out, there is this paper house that is about to throw away all of this paper, unless you want to use it.” It was exactly the right amount of paper that we needed to finish the project. That was just amazing. Through the years – donors, supporters, volunteers, advisers – all these people who’ve come up and said “I want to help.”  They’re all moments to celebrate... READ MORE >>

IF YOU CAN, YOU SHOULD

When I first moved to Seattle, I knew no one besides my husband and his college buddy. It was a lonely business trying to find a job and make friends. We had one car and we were living 20 minutes outside downtown in a townhouse with no furniture. Our sleepy marina town closed down at 7:00 at night and our closest neighbors either worked nights, or dealt drugs from their driveways during the day.

I spent every waking moment trying to get a job to help me escape the absolute boredom I felt. During one of my interviews, the Art Director asked me if I was a member of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Arts) or if I had heard of the School of Visual Concepts. Being both receptive and desperate, I joined AIGA immediately and began taking classes as SVC. Her advice changed my experience dramatically. Instead of pining away, waiting for my employed spouse to return home, I now had places to go and people to meet.

One of the greatest benefits of jointing the AIGA was that it had plenty of opportunities to volunteer. And boy did I. Jumping in with both feet, I helped plan events, as well as volunteered with inner city kids doing art projects, and eventually was invited to join the Board.

Jesse Doquilo, the president at the time, asked what my motivation to join the board was and I told him I wanted to use my talent to give back. He put me in charge of Community Outreach, a brand new position, and told me to define it. And, oh, by the way, you have 70 volunteers waiting for you to tell them what to do. I was given carte blanche.

So...wow. Where to start? Too much freedom can create confusion or stagnation, so I started winnowing the choices down. 

Continue reading the story in an  article I wrote for Communication Arts >>

TRAFFIC DESIGN

Me   and my sporty plastic glasses my mom got on sale.

Me and my sporty plastic glasses
my mom got on sale.

I am one of the lucky ones. I've known what I wanted to be ever since I was 12 years old when Ms. Garcia had everyone in her sixth grade class take a Career Aptitude Test.

We nervously queued up to use the brand new Micro Computer from Radio Shack, and watched as the results printed up dot by dot. Eagerly, I read the results, which offered three main options deemed to fit my personality. Rushing home, I shared the news of my potential careers to my mom who offered her perspective...

  • Veterinarian:What about your allergies? You'd be sneezing all the time! And besides, could you actually put a little puppy to sleep and watch him die?
  • Photo Journalist: Would you really be able to sit idly by and shoot photos of people who are dying – or on fire? You'd have to, you know.
  • Graphic Design: Traffic Design? What's that? 

So, the choice became obvious, thanks to mom. The next day, I told Mrs. Garcia my top choice and she arranged for me to spend the day with a real, live Graphic Designer at the University of Arizona. Surprisingly, he didn't have to do anything about traffic jams, except create way-finding signs and cool logos. I was smitten. He got to draw and do beautiful typography. AND he got paid for it. I had found my future bliss.

After graduating college with a Visual Arts Degree, I began my Graphic Design on the bottommost rung at a neighborhood print shop, where the manager made fun of me for not knowing what a Gripper Edge was (Sheesh...what do they teach these kids?).

My job was split between taking change for customer's Xeroxes and pasting up golf brochures the hard way – laying out spreads using a T-square, X-Acto blades and toxic spray-on glue. I had to convince them that they no longer needed to send out for type since they had a new fangled Apple Macintosh with a sizzling 128k of RAM, a floppy disk drive, and a handful of fonts named after big cities.

Somehow, that job didn't break my spirit, and slowly, rung by rung, I began the dizzying climb – job by job – until I finally made it to "the Big Time" at Hornall Anderson Design. Yet, after all that hard work, I felt like a fraud – How could these incredible designers not know that I don't belong, that I started as a copy clerk? I am unworthy of licking their Italian Leather boots.

My competitive nature, however, helped me rise above my freelance status and swim with (or at least float along side) the über talented sharks with stylish glasses. Once I was hired, the clients I worked on ranged from corporate to classic to boutique. During that time, my supervisor taught me skills I would eventually use for Art with Heart – writing Creative Briefs (which translated well to Grants), managing budgets, and dealing with difficult situations and demanding clients. The two main clients that helped shape what was to come were Children's Hospital of Orange County and Harcourt School Book publishers. Working closely with these seemingly disparate clients helped me find a direction for Art with Heart and led to my first big project for hospitalized children, Oodles of Doodles, a healing activity book inspired by a local child with neuroblastoma, a rare childhood cancer that takes the lives of most of the children diagnosed with it.

After working in the design field for over 15 years, I now had a new direction, a new passion, a new possibility – but one which used all my foundational skills. My sixth grade teacher planted a seed that not only sprouted and grew, but gave me the roots to branch out to new possibilities. Thank you Ms. Garcia for giving your class a head start in life and for helping me find my bliss...twice.  /  More on Hallie's story at Art with Heart.org >>