Thursday, November 29, 2007

Run with it.

Isn't it amazing when people take their creative passion and run with it? My fellow Iowa State University Graphic Design classmate ('04 grad) Sara Jayne Weitzel has done just that by launching her own photography business, Sara Jayne Photographic Artistry.

Although Sara was a graphic design major, her passion for photography was always apparent in her work, which was always oogled by fellow design classmates who saw the gleam in her eye when she presented her design work that utilized her own photography. A photography major was not offered at ISU, and Sara got her degree in Graphic Design, she continued to follow her passion for photography after she graduated.

While the rest of our graduating class was beating the streets for design jobs and sending our tons of resumes and portfolio sample books, Sara was working for a small photography studio in Minneapolis while shooting weddings, senior photos, and engagement photos on the weekends. As she built her portfolio with her wedding work from summer, winter hit hard in Minneapolis, causing her weekend wedding business slow (and mostly stop) because of the frigid cold Minnesota winter. So, following her passion, Sara quit working her weekday job at the photo studio and suprised us all by moving to Phoenix, AZ to continue shooting weddings during the winter months. She now lives half of the year in Phoenix, and half in Minneapolis to continue to grow her portfolio -- and her new business.

Sara's portfolio isn't just made up of the photography she shoots "on the job." Her passion for travel, animals, pets, and just having fun with friends are also evidenced by her skilled creative eye for the perfect shot. Often taking "a day of play" with her camera, Sara spends time dressing up friends for shoots and walking around Phoenix or Minneapolis taking photos of architecture or the local farmer's market. She also recently traveled to Greece and Croatia, capturing the diverse culture of these lands through the lens of her camera.

Some of Sara's work is below. If you like it, she has a "fans, friends, and clients" group on Facebook (just search Sara Jayne Photography) that you could join to show your support. I suppose the moral of the story is, find your passion. Seek it out, embrace it, and run with it, no matter what it takes, and make it yours.

All images Copyright 2007, Sara Jayne Photography

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Department of Tourism

Shout out to ISU Graphic Designers who visited Hallmark last week! Thank you all for taking the time to come to Kansas City, and for spending a few hours here at Hallmark. It was fun to hear about your studio visits, and to show you around Hallmark. I hope you enjoyed your night on the Plaza -- and I hope you didn't spend too much time with your laptops at the hotel!

Welcome to cre.a.tiv.i.ty!

You know, I was thinking...I think Hallmark needs a Department of Tourism, and I want to be the Tourism Manager! I get so energized when I have student groups visit -- it's so much fun! I also love to talk (in case you couldn't tell), so I think I'd be the ideal person for the job! Thanks again for coming.

Survey results!

In my latest survey, I asked: What is most important to new college grads when considering employment opportunities? Thirteen people voted, and the survey said:

Great location is most important. 1 (7%)
Working for a green company is most important. 0 (0%)
Flexible work hours and vacation time are most important.   1 (7%)
Competitive salary is most important. 0 (0%)
Name recognition of employer is most important. 1 (7%)
Creative freedom is most important. 5 (38%)
Moving up quickly is most important. 0 (0%)
Quality of co-workers is most important. 5 (38%)

It looks like creative freedom and quality of co-workers topped the charts. I have to say that in my experience, these two things are the two things that have made my career rewarding, exciting, interesting, and just plain fun. It's what makes coming to work every day worth it! Thanks to all who voted. Another survey will be coming soon -- anyone have a survey question they'd like to see posted?

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Leadership: for only a select few, or for all?

"If you want to build a ship, don't drum up people to collect wood and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for the endless immensity of the sea." -Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Recently I have been reading a lot of books and articles on leadership. It's facinating: typically, creatives don't see themselves as leaders, nor do they think that they might want to be a "leader" one day -- "Manage people? No way! I just want to be creative and design!"

I have been thinking more deeply about the concept of leadership, I am starting to realize that you don't have to have a certain title (like Art Director, Creative Director, or Vice President) to be a leader. That sounds naive, I know, but when you think about that idea, and really take ownership of it, it becomes a very powerful thing: You can be influential in your current position, at your current age, in whatever you are currently working on.

To me, the first part of the Antoine de Saint-Exupery quote (above) is more for the people who are leaders by title -- those who are trying to direct people and products and design work. Those people with the typical "leadership" titles. But the second part of the quote pertains to everyone, me, you, us, in our daily lives, in our daily jobs, in our creative work, in all we do. To "long for the endless immensity of the sea" is to absorb, learn, grow, influence those around us, collaborate, be creative, change, innovate, and influence. To dream up the seemingly impossible idea. To go for it will all of our passion and energy, and to succeed.

If you do this each day, I believe that you are a leader. But then again, I'm not a philosopher or writer or saint, so let me know what you think!

Monday, November 5, 2007

KU Tour No.2

We had another group of University of Kansas Design and Illustration students in to visit Hallmark last Friday. I'd like to welcome another group of talented KU creatives to cre.a.tiv.i.ty! My apologies for the delay in getting your invitations sent -- I spent all of Friday after your group left on our team's "special project" -- a fancy word for "cleaning out our offices and conference rooms from top to bottom! I left work pretty late, but felt good about getting everything in order in our studio conference rooms. Now, on to my office!

I had mentioned to one of the KU tour groups that I was going as a female action-hero for Halloween. For your viewing pleasure (or perhaps to your viewing dismay) and to show a creative attempt at making a cheap costume, here is my best Lara Croft look:

I made the belt and gun holster myself out of recycled black nylon straps and elastic bands that I found at a HUGE military surplus store in Kansas City, KS. I got the green backpack and the combat boots at the same store. I found the shorts and tank top in my roommate's closet, and to complete the look, I bought the guns at the Halloween store (the only part of my costume that cost more than $15).

Some of the other created-from-scratch costumes I saw at our party were Thing 1 and Thing 2 from Dr. Seuss, a Rodeo Queen, a life-sized lego man (complete with removable black plastic hair-I have no idea how my friend Steve made that!), Joker, The Buger King and his arch-rival Wendy, and best of all, a Angelina Jolie-Brad-Jennifer Aniston trio (the called themselves Brajengelina).

Anyone else have or see a unique or created-from-scratch costume??

Thursday, November 1, 2007

When I grow up...

... I want to be a fireman! A teacher. A bus driver. A doctor. We hear all kinds of responses from children when we ask them this question. But I don't think I have ever heard a child say,

"When I grow up, I want to be a graphic designer!"

In fact, most children don't know that "art" is a career possibility. Kids learn their shapes and colors at a very early age. They learn to fingerpaint and color with crayons shortly after they start to walk. From then on, they learn that scissors are fun (but sharp) and paste is even more fun (but tastes bad), and so on. So why is it that kids tend to forget about art as they grow older? Perhaps other more glamorous activities like soccer, baseball, or gymnastics begin to entice them. Perhaps their friends don't think art is "cool," so they are pressured to fit in with the crowd. I'm not sure what the answer to that question is. And, more importantly, I think we need to ask ourselves a better question: How do to we continue to inspire kids to be artists once the crayons have all been broken and the paste has all been eaten?

I think Fisher Price has found a possible answer with one of their new products that is just starting to hit the market (targeted advertising for this Christmas). This product allows you to transform your home computer (PC only, darn!) into a mini-graphic design studio for kids! The Digital Arts and Crafts Studio has two components: software that you upload onto your home computer and a USB-driven device that is like a Wacom/mouse/tool palette/color palette combo (see photos below).

The design software boasts "undreds of creative activities and formats" like party hats, cards, coloring books, paper airplanes, and jumping frogs. Kids can also work without a template to create whatever it is that they dare to dream up. The stylus (part of the USB device) can act as a pencil, brush, crayon or stamper, and there are 256 colors to choose from. There are also other software add-ons that can be purchased so kids can create with Dora the Explorer, Diego, and Dinosaurs. Artwork can also be saved and printed.

The best part: it is cheap! You get the basic software package and the USB device for only $50.00! I don't have kids, so I'm trying to think of someone's kids I could buy this for this Christmas!

From birth to age 14, there was no computer in my home. Now, kids are growing up with technology: tesearchers are calling them digital natives. They are in front of the computer, using the internet, playing video games, talking on cell phones, and creating Facebook and mySpace pages at early ages.

It may seem scary to think about, but I think it also gives us an opportunity to innovatearound the technological influences in their lives. It gives us the chance to create opportunities for kids to explore, innovate, and discover. Who knows, they just might end up saying "When I grow up, I want to be an artist."

Images are snapshots from a video about The Digital Arts and Crafts Studio.
To watch the full video, click here.