I was a teenager during the early 80s. Before email. Before scanners and computers in general. I took typing in junior high – on real typewriters. I remember having to make copies of things by using carbon paper. So instead of cool fonts and digital images and clipart, if you wanted to pass along information in written form you had to type it on the typewriter or write it by hand.
My mother has always been good at artistic things. She was master of the tole painting era – teaching classes and filling our home with her creations. But one day she came to me for some help. I was about 13 years old and she asked if I would write out a poem that she wanted to give to a group of young women in our church that she was in charge of.
Now remember, she was an artist herself, but that day she made me feel like I was the only one who could create this work of art for her youth. And I believed her.
I had always enjoyed writing things. I had what we called at our junior high “cheerleader writing.” I was a student body officer and could make the posters announcing dances or activities with the best of them. One of my favorite things was a big office desk that my parents bought for me at a used furniture sale. I organized the drawers with all of my papers and pens and pencils. I have always had a passion for anything to do with writing.
The day that Mom asked me to create this poem I started my first file folder. I labeled it “Lettering” and started collecting examples of interesting, cute, fun, unique writing that I saw in my environment. Since these were the days before being able to snap a photo of something with your phone, I often would look at a menu or a sign and draw some examples of the lettering to put in my file.
Then, while sitting at our kitchen counter, I started practicing. I would look at those examples of writing that I had collected and copy them. Over and over I would try to mimic the lettering examples until I could do them all without looking. I wasn’t necessarily great at drawing but that day, when my mother asked me to create something for her that she probably could have done a better job at, handwriting became a love for me.
It also became a talent. And little did I know how that talent would affect the rest of my life.
I practiced writing every chance I got. I copied and explored various ways of writing to achieve different effects. I used a variety of mediums to get used to using a pen versus a pencil then on to a paintbrush. As a school teacher I often created bulletin board signs that looked just like the title of the book we were reading because I could recreate it with a black magic marker and chalks.
So almost twenty years later when Hampton Art came to me asking if I wanted to design stamps for them I couldn’t believe it. This had always been a hobby but rarely had it made me any actual income. I immediately said, “Yes!” then hung up the phone wondering what in the world I was going to create.
Thus began another file folder of ideas – this one labeled “Stamps.” I tucked my inspiration in my folder and just like when I was 13 years old, began practicing again. I found that white notecards and a fine-tip black Sharpie pen seemed to work the best for me. With my tools at my side I started writing, playing, doodling and discovering what I could do that would make an interesting rubber stamp.
You might say that the rest is history. Since that first set of $1 stamps that I designed and Hampton Art (Studio G) created for Michaels stores, millions of my rubber and clear $1 stamps have been sold. Now AC Moore and JoAnns sell my designs along with Michaels. I have gone back to school in graphic design to learn how to create on the computer using Illustrator so that I have more freedom with my designing. I learned that there is only so much I can do by hand with a Sharpie pen.
But in honor of the encouragement that I received from my Mom all those years ago and those first stamps I created by hand – I decided to bring out one of my favorite Easter designs. The original version was drawn by hand but I digitally remastered it for you! One of the many joys of drawing using the computer is the ability to change size, look and color. So you get four different color versions of the download today – with plenty of time before the Easter bunny is due to arrive.
Make some cards. Create a button to hand out randomly. Tuck one in an unexpected place for someone to find later. It’s time to spread the bunny love! And be like my Mom – encourage someone to develop a talent while you’re at it.