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International Children’s Book Day

International Childrens Book Day

It’s a fact: Reading is important to children. Very, very important! Statistics after statistics prove it. But facts aside, the real beauty is seeing the pure, unadulterated joy in a child’s face after having read a good book — or having been read to. Which is exactly why we at Blue Mountain are so thrilled to promote International Children’s Book Day, being celebrated on April 2 this year.

Created nearly 50 years ago as a means to inspire a love of reading and to call attention to children’s books, this holiday also pays tribute to all the great authors of those books. Included in this elite group are two of American Greetings’ very own in-house senior editors: Brian P. Cleary and Caroline Leech!

Besides writing for American Greetings and Blue Mountain (which happens to feature lots of really cute Kids eCards), Brian and Caroline are also the award-winning authors of numerous highly successful children’s books. We’d love for you to get to know them a little better. Let’s get started!

Brian P. Cleary
International Childrens Book Day
Brian is shown here (center, in bow tie) with a group of
enthusiastic readers at an elementary school in Germany.

What are the titles of your books? And what age group are they for?
I have more than 50. They are for kids ages 4-10. (Click here for all the titles.)

What are your books about? And do you have a favorite?
My books usually rhyme, and often teach something to the reader. My favorites are Rainbow Soup: Adventures in Poetry and Peanut Butter and Jellyfishes: A Very Silly Alphabet Book.

How long does it take for you to write a book? And what’s the process?
It totally depends on the book. For example, a picture book with 13 stanzas (sort of like paragraphs for poetry), might take only 2 hours a day for 6-7 days.  Rainbow Soup had almost 5,000 words, and so it took a couple hours a day for a whole summer. As for the process, I can get inspiration from anything from song lyrics to signs to conversations, and I always write notes that I might find useful next time I write. For me, the key is to capture that inspiration immediately.

What do you think makes for a really great story that resonates with kids?
My books usually don’t tell stories per se, but kids usually like stories that either have a central character who is a lot like them, or is a child who has more control of his or her life than the reader does. Harry Potter did a great job of that, and its themes of friendship and loyalty and bravery and overcoming challenge really captivated kids as well as adults.

Will you have a new book coming out anytime soon? If so, can you share a few details?
A book of concrete poems (these take on the shape of the subject of the poem) will be out by summer, published by Lerner Publishing Group. It’s called Ode to a Commode and Other Concrete Poems.

What’s the best part of being a children’s book author? The worst?
It’s great that your work can reach people all over the world. I’ve had books translated into Mandarin and sold in China; I’ve spent time with students and faculty in Germany; and I’ve gotten to visit more than 500 elementary schools in 40 states in the past two decades. In 1996, when a list of the top books of the year (as chosen by 10,000 school children) was published, I made the list alongside Shel Silverstein.  The worst part?  So far, there isn’t one.

Tell us a cute/zany/touching story about a child and one of your books.
One of the many cool things about being a children’s author is the fan mail. This one says: “Dear Brian P. Cleary, I love your books. My name is (child’s name). I go to Jackson Elementary in Morgan Hill, CA. I absolutely love your creativity. I visit your website when I’m done with my homework, or have nothing to do. Your books cheer me up when I’m sad. Your books make me laugh when I’m glad. My favorite book of yours is Hairy, Scary, Ordinary; What is an Adjective? I think your books are very clever. Do I think they’re boring? Never! Even though I’m only in 5th grade, I’m thinking about writing books. Do you have any advice for me? Your friend, (child’s name).”

When you were a kid, what was your most favorite story in the whole wide world, and why?
It wasn’t really a story book, it was called Your Own Joke Book, and it was packed with puns and riddles and song parodies and funny poems that I can still recite to this day.

 

Caroline Leech
International Childrens Book Day
Caroline holding her son when he was four. He’s now 21.

What was your inspiration for writing children’s books?
My wonderful son, David.  I’ve always written poetry, so when I was expecting, writing a poem about what I was feeling for my baby-to-be came naturally.

How did you get from poem to published book?
On a whim, I sent out 10 copies of it to the top publishers. I promptly received nine rejections. Then four months later, I got a phone call from Golden Books, wondering if it was still available. They wanted to turn it into a book. I nearly went into labor on the spot!

What was the book about?
Wonderful You is the story of a mama bear telling her cub all the fun and lovely things they were going to do together. My son is 21 now, and we still look back on it and smile because we did do all those things. (Except inviting a fox for tea, which seemed a little risky.)

You’ve written other books?
Yes, four Winnie-the-Pooh books, a couple of Mickey and Minnie Mouse stories, and some Kate Gleason books — 10 in all.

How did you find time to write while taking care of a young child?
I came up with a very low-tech solution. With Barney on the TV, I used to sit on the couch holding my son in one arm while writing on a clipboard with the other.

Any advice for aspiring writers?
Yes—manuscripts left in drawers never get published. Get your work out there. You may be very happily surprised. Fortune favors the bold!

 

International Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book DayInternational Childrens Book Day

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MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech

Our featured artist this month is actually a very talented writer and editor…
Caroline Leech, who has created many of your favorite Blue Mountain greetings! Whether writing songs or sentiments, she has that special ability to work seamlessly with the artists involved to produce cards that are instant hits. Read what Caroline has to say about what inspires her and keeps her motivated in the work she loves so much…

MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech

Hi Caroline, When did you first realize you had writing abilities or know that you wanted to be a writer?

I have loved words for as long as I can remember. As a child I used to make greeting cards for my Mom and Dad on the backs of the Twinkies inserts. I won my first poetry contest in second grade for a song I wrote to sing to the birds.

Can you tell us a little about your background?

I have over 30 years (where does the time go?) of experience in the social expression industry, holding a variety of corporate and consulting positions. I have a B.A. and M.A. from the University of Dayton and have written ten children’s books for Golden Books and Disney.

What is your current position at bluemountain.com and could you tell us a little more about your work?

As a Senior Editor, I write greetings, compose song lyrics and create storylines with the artists and musicians. I am fortunate to work with our very creative and talented design and audio teams who make work a pleasure. Brainstorming new ideas with them is one of my favorite things to do.

MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech

Which is your favorite ecard you’ve created and what makes it special to you?

My One and Only One” is my favorite ecard, because the song I wrote for it was inspired by my husband. I also enjoy writing the titles for our Talking Cards. This has to be the only place on earth where puns are welcome.

MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech

Who is the writer who has most influenced you? How do you use that influence in your work?

There are many authors and poets I love, but a lot of my inspiration comes from our customers. I like to read customer comments and follow them on our fan page, listening to what delights and inspires them. For example, I noticed that many of the quotations they like are about sunshine, so I wrote a singing telegram and a card about sending sunny wishes.

MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech

What types of things do you do to keep yourself motivated?

Actually, staying motivated is never a problem. The real challenge is finding enough hours in the day to accomplish everything I’d like to do.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’d like to be here, doing what I love most.

On a final note, what are some things you like to do when you’re away from work?

Not surprisingly, I love to read. When I’m not curled up with a book, I’m spending time with my family and friends.

MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech  MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech  MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech  MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech  MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech  MEET THE WRITER: Caroline Leech

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MEET THE ARTIST: Tom Page

MEET THE ARTIST: Tom PageThis month, we’re more than happy to introduce you to Tom Page, a very creative designer in his own right and an art director who’s an inspiration to his staff of talented designers and animators here at bluemountain.com.

Hi Tom, when did you first realize you had design abilities or know that you wanted to be an artist?

I think I have been drawing pictures for as long as I can remember and it has really been the only thing that I have really ever wanted to do. My mom and dad are very artistic so at a young age they were very supportive.

What is your current position at bluemountain.com and can you tell us a little about your background as a designer?

I am an Art Director with Blue Mountain and have been in the greeting card business for almost 19 years. I started out as an illustrator and over the years worked my way to Art Director.

Could you tell us a little more about your work?

As an Art Director I’m lucky to work with a very talented staff of designers and animators developing concepts and stories that can be turned into digital greetings which people can share with each other for any occasion. So, it’s really not “my” work but more of a collaborative effort with the team. We are all working toward a common goal and push each other to create amazing that we believe our customers will love.

MEET THE ARTIST: Tom Page

MEET THE ARTIST: Tom Page

Which is your favorite ecard you’ve created and what makes it special to you?

Wow, this is a tough decision because I have worked on A LOT of cards, a few of which are featured here. I have another favorite I worked on that was a Claymation piece we did for Christmas about 5 years ago. We wanted to create a piece that reminded us of all the Rankin–Bass television shows that we were fans of as kids. This was such a group effort. It was also something that we had never done before, at least a clay piece of this scale. I enjoyed every part of it from planning to the finished piece. Everyone that worked on it did an amazing job. I really grew as a storyteller and leader from that experience.

Who is the artist that has most influenced you? How do you use that influence in your work?

It’s so hard to pin-point just one person but if I had to pick one I love the emotion you feel from an Otto Dix piece, especially the series from the First World War. I try to put some of that emotion in my personal work. At my current job, I’m lucky to be surrounded by so many talented people. I have really pulled so much from many of them.

MEET THE ARTIST: Tom Page

What types of things do you do to keep yourself motivated?

The way people communicate is rapidly changing which of course is so important to our business. Following that and how it effects what I do is very motivating and exciting at the same time.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’d like to teach someday. I have learned so much here I would like to think I can help some students out there be better professionals.

What advice would you give an aspiring artist who’s interested in the same career field you’re in?

This is one of the reasons why I’d like to teach. Be willing to take on any task then over deliver on it. Build as many positive relationships as you can. Don’t be late with your work, that kills careers. Learn how to take and give feedback. As a creative person feedback is a part of everyday life, if you don’t take it well then this isn’t the career for you. Also learn how to communicate well and speak in front of people. Communicating your vision is important and being able to do it well will give you more opportunities to move up in an organization.

On a final note, Tom, what are some things you like to do when you’re away from work?

I do art when I can but when you’re doing that in some capacity all day it can be challenging to continue at home. So I enjoy playing golf, watching movies, hitting the gym and most of all just being Dad. I’m lucky to have a very supportive family. I have been married to my wife Tina for 20 years this June and have two great kids Dylan and Claudia.

Thanks, Tom, for sharing your background, interests and creative passion with us!

MEET THE ARTIST: Tom PageMEET THE ARTIST: Tom PageMEET THE ARTIST: Tom PageMEET THE ARTIST: Tom PageMEET THE ARTIST: Tom PageMEET THE ARTIST: Tom Page

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MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Padrutt

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Padrutt

Meet Dave Padrutt,
the multi-talented Senior Audio Producer for Blue Mountain.

Hi Dave…When did you first realize you had artistic abilities or know that you wanted to be a musician and an artist?

I was a little artist from as early as I can remember. I won my first award for a painting when I was in kindergarten, and I think from then on I just considered the arts as being ‘my thing.’ I was very diligent about progressing in the visual arts throughout my school years. In junior high I starting being recognized for achievements in creative writing, and shortly thereafter I taught myself how to play the guitar and started my own band.

What is your current position at bluemountain.com and can you tell us a little about your background as a musician?

I am a Senior Audio Producer for Blue Mountain. I was first introduced to the greeting card industry after college, working as a graphic designer. I was freelancing on the side; composing music for film and producing my own recordings just for fun. Eventually, the music I was producing on the side got to be a big enough deal that people started to take notice. I was able to switch careers from visual artist to musician. I am largely self-taught as a musician and audio engineer/producer. I have learned a great deal along the way having been fortunate enough to work with some remarkably talented individuals in every aspect of music production and performance.

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Padrutt

 Could you tell us a little more about your work?

As an audio producer, I am responsible for crafting the recordings that accompany the
art and verse for Blue Mountain eCards. At times, this involves the genesis of pure songwriting. At other times, this may involve my having to learn how to play an instrument that I really don’t know how to play, just to record a part. At other times,
I may have to conduct a string quartet or sing like a cartoon kangaroo with an authentic Australian accent or lead a jazz trio…it all depends on the specific needs of a particular greeting card. My job requirements and even the method by which we work can be random and require a great deal of improvisation at times; and I wouldn’t have
it any other way. I love that I do something that continuously keeps me on my toes.

Which is your favorite ecard you’ve created and what makes it special to you?

I think my favorite is ‘La Birthday’ song. The inspiration behind that card came from my tendency to break into an exaggerated, comedic, French caricature voice at any given moment for no apparent reason. (I’ve been doing it since French class in the 6th grade.) Arbitrarily, I have retained a lot of the French vocabulary lessons about food, which is why that is a major theme in the card. I was able to offer some lyrics and even some art direction during the production, on top of producing and performing the song. It was just one of many fantastic experiences I have had collaborating with the writers and animators that I am so lucky to work with–and the end result is an absolutely delightful little greeting. Another is the Reggae Birthday Song that we had a great time recording!

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave PadruttWho is the artist or musician that has influenced you most? How do you use that influence in your work?

There are so many great artists and influences out there. This is a difficult question to answer! One of my favorite recording artists has always been Bob Dylan. I’ve always been inspired by his ability to make something brilliant out of very modest building materials. He can conjure up clever, colorful stories with a fairly simple use of vocabulary. He’s written beautiful, effective, poignant songs using very unassuming melodies and arrangements. He’s got that unforgiving, even controversial storyteller’s singing voice that he uses so well to sell it all. Something I should ask myself about every project I work on is: am I really selling this? Is this really going to affect someone? What Would Bob Do?

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I’ll still be wondering what I’m going to do when I grow up.

What advice would you give an aspiring artist who’s interested in the same career field you’re in?

I have made it to where I am today with a lot of hard work and diligence; but I’ve also made it a point to not take myself too seriously. I think that I have a pretty healthy sense of humor about myself and have tried to keep ‘having fun’ as an important priority in my life. This is important stuff to keep in mind for the professional greeting card musician!

On a final note, Dave, what are some things you like to do when you’re away from work?

I have two incredible sons who keep me more motivated and inspired than anything else in the world. Among other things, we are railroading enthusiasts together. We spend a
lot of time hanging out by train tracks, watching the cars roll by.

I’m also a runner. I love to run and to race, and I commit a great deal of time and energy to it. I believe that the benefits of running, both physical and psychological, are innumerable.

As you can tell from my work that is shown above, I paint and draw quite a bit, too. Sometimes I refurbish old furniture in a fresh and funky way, but that’s usually just
in the summer when it’s warm enough to garbage-pick for canvases!

Finally, I write and record a lot of my own music. I play with a band and we perform live
a handful of times every year – just enough so that I can’t wait for the next show!

Thanks so much, Dave!

We hope you know that your considerable talents are appreciated and enjoyed by
so many!

 

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave PadruttMEET THE ARTIST: Dave PadruttMEET THE ARTIST: Dave PadruttMEET THE ARTIST: Dave PadruttMEET THE ARTIST: Dave PadruttMEET THE ARTIST: Dave Padrutt

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MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Sommers

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Sommers

Dave, when did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?

One day, as a small child, my medium of choice became permanent markers as I freely expressed myself on the bathroom walls and cabinets! Our unlucky cat happened to walk by and his fur and paws became my canvas as well. Honestly, I really don’t know exactly when I realized that I wanted to be an artist…I have loved drawing and painting as far back as I can remember.

What is your current position at bluemountain.com and can you tell us a little about your background as an artist? 

My title is Senior Creative Developer which is an appropriate title given my frequent senior moments. I earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Cleveland Institute of Art. I love the ease and immediacy of digital art but I also enjoy digging into traditional art by drawing, painting and sculpting with real world tools.

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Sommers

Two of a 7-piece series called “The Creation” (36” x 24” acrylic)


Could you tell us a little more about your work?

Breathing life into an imaginary world you have created by animating its environment and characters is fun and rewarding. I get to do this with 2D and 3D software. The art is only a piece of the puzzle though, as creating a greeting ecard is a collaborative effort. Our editors do an amazing job of creating sentiment that is just right for the occasion and we are all part of the process of brainstorming and developing ideas for the cards. It’s wonderful to see it all come to life when our talented audio team creates the music and sound effects.

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Sommers

Still images from “Happy Easter! Happy Spring!”


What’s your favorite ecard you’ve created and what makes it special to you?

Often my favorite cards are the ones I have most recently completed because the struggle to create it is followed by the great feelings of relief and reward when it’s finally completed.  It’s also great to work collaboratively with other artists because the piece as a whole seems to turn out better than the sum of its parts

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Sommers

Recent collaborative ecard with Chris Beatrice and Aaron Brudvig 

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Sommers

Recent collaborative ecard with Alison Osborn and Larissa Kulik


Dave, are there any particular artists who have influenced your career?

Several years ago I was shocked to find the name of the famous artist Georgia O’Keeffe in my family tree. The chart had been tucked away for years in a box and I never knew I was related to her! Admittedly, she is a distant cousin, but I became an instant fan. My grandmother was also a really good artist but I didn’t even know it until her paintings and drawings were discovered soon after she had died. I admire a beautiful original painting of hers that hangs in my home today. The works of God in nature inspire and influence me. Plus, there is always so much that I learn about great design from nature and people everywhere.

How do you stay motivated?

For me motivation comes from envisioning the finished work as it benefits, and is appreciated, by others. I get to work with a group of extremely talented and creative people and their great work motivates and inspires me to become even better.
MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Sommers

“Bewitched Birthday Song” and “Remembered Joys” ecards


Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hmmm, I think I’ll be basking on a tropical beach…talking proudly with my wife about our successful and wealthy children. Then (record scratch sound), my boss will tell me to stop daydreaming and get back to work. Truthfully I really love my job so I’ll be happy to still be creating art and animation!

What advice would you give to an aspiring young artist?

In art school I knew a student who wanted to be a really good artist, but he had one major problem, he couldn’t draw very well. Most of us wondered what he was doing there. He got a lot of negative criticism from teachers and students about his drawings but he didn’t let discouragement keep him down. His deep passion to become great drove him to work even harder. For 5 long years he persisted even though his progress, at times, was painfully slow. Finally, just before graduation, his final works were presented before a large audience of teachers and peers. His art was far better than any of us dreamed he was capable of creating–it was fantastic! He received a standing ovation and people were actually wiping away tears! He was an inspiration for all of us to follow our passion and never give up. So I guess that is my advice…follow your passions and inspiration and you’ll have the motivation you need to succeed. Hard work and persistence are key elements for any successful endeavor.

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave Sommers

Birthday Hallelujah Singing Telegram

On a final note, what are some things you like to do for fun?

My family is really cool. I enjoy hanging out with my wife and kids and playing games, going on vacations, watching movies and going to church activities with them. I love a good hike in nature and being in awe of God’s creations. Oh yes…I like ping pong too!

Thanks, Dave!

We hope you know that your talent and all that passion you pour into your work brings a lot of joy to people worldwide!

MEET THE ARTIST: Dave SommersMEET THE ARTIST: Dave SommersMEET THE ARTIST: Dave SommersMEET THE ARTIST: Dave SommersMEET THE ARTIST: Dave SommersMEET THE ARTIST: Dave Sommers

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MEET THE ARTIST: Alison Osborn

MEET THE ARTIST: Alison Osborn

Alison, when did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?

Well I’m not sure about artist, but I would say that as a child I loved to draw. Because I was a shy child, it was the one way I could express myself.

MEET THE ARTIST: Alison OsbornThe Beatitudes Matthew 5:8 and “Ace of Spades.”
 
 

What is your position at bluemountain.com and what is your background as an artist?

I’m an Assistant Art Director. Most of my time is divided between concept/art direction and designing ecards. Though I do manage freelance and in-house projects, I also get to create and collaborate with other studio artists.

Could you tell us some more about your work?

I have a B.A. in graphic design/illustration from Kent State University. I’ve always dabbled in illustration but in college I fell in love with design and typography. What I have really been enjoying the past few years is photo manipulation. It’s editing multiple photos to make them look like a single illustration and I love working in Photoshop using brushes and patterns. I’m now starting to work in Painter which is also quite fun. I do love to work with collage/typography and water colors in my free time, though my boys take up most of that at the moment. I wouldn’t have it any other way though.

MEET THE ARTIST: Alison OsbornHere are two examples of photo manipulation “Sending Wishes Across the Miles” and “Moonlight and Magic.”
 
 

What is it that inspires you when creating a particular design or graphic piece?

My inspiration for images and concepts comes from many sources–the card copy, design, illustration and blog sites. Plus, the artists around me are a constant source of inspiration.   In the 15 years I’ve worked here, I’ve have never stopped being amazed.

What’s your favorite piece/ecard ever created and why?

I would have to say any ecard where I’ve collaborated with another artist. We get some of our best work that way. A few of my favorites are “Bewitched Halloween,” “A Touch of Christmas Magic” and “A Mother’s Heart.”

MEET THE ARTIST: Alison Osborn“Bewitched Halloween” and “A Mother’s Heart,” collaborated with Pam Trautman and Dave Sommers.

 

Who has influenced you as an artist?

I think some of the best examples of imagination and illustrations are in children’s books.  Nancy Tillman, Chris Van Allsburg and Maggie Taylor are some of my favorites.

MEET THE ARTIST: Alison OsbornInfluenced by Maggie Taylor’s art on both “Magical Card Game” and “Lucky in Love.”

 

How do you stay motivated?

My colleagues get me through challenging times. We have an amazing and supportive group of writers, artists and musicians.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

Hopefully here, but if not, I can definitely see myself teaching. I took a refresher college course a few years back and when the teacher learned of my degree she asked me to help co-teach with her that semester. I really enjoyed it and realized I was good at it, too.
I believe great teachers inspire others.

MEET THE ARTIST: Alison OsbornExamples of mood and lighting, “His Joy in the New Year” and “My One and Only One Song.” 

 

What advice would you give to an aspiring young artist?

Don’t give up. The art industry can be difficult to get into. But if you’re doing something you’re passionate about and have talent, you’ll do fine. Also surround yourself with talented people. They’ll inspire you and teach you more than you could imagine. And love what you do, the minute you stop, it’s time to move on.

What do you do for fun?

I spend time with my family. I’m a mom of two boys who keep me on my toes. We go on walks, play in the park, and have movie nights. It’s great to come home after a long day and hear their voices. We have a ritual at dinner time where we go around the table and tell our favorite part of our day. Though I love what I do, my favorite part of the day is just sitting there, being with them.

Thanks, Alison!

We hope you enjoyed meeting Alison, seeing her beautiful work and the wonderful ecards she’s been a part of developing. We also hope that by learning a little more about the artists here at bluemountain.com, you’ll get to know the kind of special people and talents that are required to create our unique and very special brand of cards.

MEET THE ARTIST: Alison OsbornMEET THE ARTIST: Alison OsbornMEET THE ARTIST: Alison OsbornMEET THE ARTIST: Alison OsbornMEET THE ARTIST: Alison OsbornMEET THE ARTIST: Alison Osborn

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Meet the Artist: Terry Flores

Meet the Artist: Terry Flores

Meet Terry Flores—an assistant art director for bluemountain.com ecards. This talented and very busy woman loves her job and her commitment to community work. We’re not sure how she finds time to do everything so well, but she’s clearly dedicated as you’ll see.

When did you first realize you wanted to be an artist?

When I was a child growing up in Guatemala I used to love painting colorful things on paper, wood, cardboard, and I loved painting with tempera. I used to watch my mom draw pictures using the grid method and I would copy her.

I realized I was going to be doing a career in art early in my teens, after I painted a copy
of the famous 60’s psychedelic poster of Bob Dylan with rainbow hair created by Milton Glaser. I loved that funky poster so I painted one myself. After that I was hooked on design, working with color and composition. 

Meet the Artist: Terry Flores

Chalk Mural 2011 for Oberlin Chalk walk community event

 What is your position at American Greetings and what is your background as an artist?

I ’m an assistant art director for e-cards. I originally got an Associates Degree in window display design. I thought I wanted to make my living creating window displays in Beverly Hills since I lived in L.A. at that time. I later got a degree in graphic design from Kent State University and I was hired by American Greetings to design paper greetings cards. Now I’m designing and art directing e-cards. I continue to take studio art classes on weekends or evenings. Right now I’m taking a portrait painting class.

 Could you tell us some more about your work?

 I do a lot of concept and art direction as part of my job creating e-cards, including managing the talking e-cards for BlueMountain.com. I manage a lot of projects using freelancers as well as in-house staff. I enjoy working in Photoshop, making something new by doing photo illustration and manipulation. I also enjoy doing illustration and design using traditional methods like woodcut, watercolor, photo transfer etc. I really enjoy using multiple mediums and techniques to see my vision come alive when I’m creating art.

Meet the Artist: Terry Flores 

“City Scape” wax block printing 

 Meet the Artist: Terry Flores“In homage to Frida Kahlo” woodcut print

 What is it that inspires you when creating a particular design or graphic piece?

A lot of things inspire me: a sunny day, a beautiful photograph, a funky sculpture, looking at artists’ blogs, looking at the masters for inspiration. I try to challenge myself in every design I create. I think concept and story development are crucial for e-cards. After all, we are creating a 10-second movies.

 What’s your favorite piece/ecard ever created and why?

Well that is a difficult question. I’ve created so many different kind of greetings cards–paper and e-cards–but a few of my favorite e-cards have been collaborations with some of my peers and some where I pushed myself on the concept and design and worked with a great animator to make it come alive. A good example is this beautiful Thanksgiving         e-card. I did the art direction and came up with the concept, designed the type and I worked with two colleagues to make it come alive and it is just beautiful.

Meet the Artist: Terry Flores
 Collaborative e-card  
 
 
 
Meet the Artist: Terry Flores Here are a couple that I designed

What famous artists or graphic designers have influenced you?

I look at a lot of different artists when I begin a design. It all depends on the concept. I like looking at the masters–even though it may be a completely different thing I will be making, it gets me inspired to begin my piece. I think that for a while I was obsessed with the work of Seymour Chwast and David Carson. I guess that makes sense since I was trained as a graphic designer. One of my favorite painters is Edward Hopper.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

I am inspired by beautiful photography. I browse artists’ blogs, and I am in Pinterest, where there is tons of inspiration all in one place. Whenever I begin a new project I always envision the end result, although it may not end up exactly like my vision since I like to stay open to happy surprises, and at times when I get lost in the process I rely on my colleagues’ insights to help me get unstuck. We have an amazing group of writers, artists and musicians that make it all come together.

Where do you see yourself in 10 years?

I love design and animation has opened new design challenges for me, but I also love the other things I do outside of my job. I think eventually I see myself teaching art workshops for young children. I do that now as a volunteer and it’s very rewarding seeing all the great things children can create when they are given the opportunity and encouragement.

What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?

Be passionate about what you do, do what you love, enjoy the little things in life, and surround yourself with talented, genuine people, from whom you can learn. Most important, be open to new experiences.

And finally, what do you do for fun?

I ’m part of a local artist group that participates in the Oberlin Chalk Walk. I love it:  2012 was my sixth year. I also make jewelry for fun, like to travel, and I do Yoga which keeps me sane and fit! 

Meet the Artist: Terry FloresMeet the Artist: Terry FloresMeet the Artist: Terry FloresMeet the Artist: Terry FloresMeet the Artist: Terry FloresMeet the Artist: Terry Flores