Meet Heather Lowery of Inkwoodpress.com
One of the very best things about teaching Surface Pattern Design is the students I have the privilege of meeting and mentoring. I’m thrilled to introduce you to Heather Lowery, an accomplished woodblock printer who started to explore Surface Design earlier this year as a way to expand her business. She is incredibly generous to share her thoughts with me in answering the following questions.
What were you doing before you started your journey with Surface Design?
Before I discovered surface pattern design I was working on getting my graphic design business restarted and also starting my woodblock printing business. I was recently divorced and for the first time in many years I had the chance to focus on what I really wanted to do. And, that is to make a living as a full time artist.
I chose to restart the graphic design business because that is what I knew and it felt safe. I'd been woodblock printing for about 2 years and wanted to sell my art. I wasn't completely enjoying the graphic design business and was on Skillshare one day and stumbled upon Surface Pattern Design, specifically Bonnie Christine’s courses. I completed her Immersion Course and then discovered Anne!
I chose to work with Anne because her path was similar to mine in the sense that we are in an older demographic and starting over. As a farm girl from NY, living and working in a big city was always a dream. A trip during design school cemented my love of Chicago.
After I graduated with my masters degree in design I was recruited to come to Chicago to work as a prepress production artist. This was in the mid '90's so computers were just at the forefront in my industry and I loved the challenge of preparing design files to go to print in this new digital age. I also discovered I was really good at troubleshooting computer problems and was also hired by the IT side of my company. One side benefit of this position was that I went out to other companies and educated them on proper computer usage.
All of this led me to leave that position and become the youngest chairperson at a private college in Chicago. Here I designed and built from the ground up a Computer Graphics program with both a 2-yr certificate and a 4 year bachelors programs. While working as the Chair I was also required to stay active in graphic design.
So, I started PreFlight, my prepress production company that I ran for 3 years. During that time I got married and had my first son. When we moved from the city to the suburbs for more space I shut down PreFlight and started Over the Moon, a handmade card company. I ran this company for about 2 years doing local art shows and during that time I had my second son. Having two boys was rather time consuming so I shut down Over the Moon to focus on them.
Now it's 20 years later, my oldest is a Junior in college and my youngest is a Senior in high school. And, I got a divorce, my choice. I'm full of a new-found freedom to explore the possibility of being a full-time artist.
What was your biggest challenge prior to joining Anne’s course?
My biggest challenge prior to joining Anne's course was discovering my signature style. Many think that with a background in graphic design and Adobe Illustrator that that would not be hard. Well, for me it is. I'm a very tactile person. Many times when I go to art shows I'm the one in the booth asking the artist if I can touch their work. It's been a challenge translating my drawings into the digital world and having them feel like me. Right now it's feeling a bit disconnected. But, I keep at it every day and experiment, experiment and experiment more. And, Anne's encouragement and the support from other's in her groups is invaluable.
How did that challenge make you feel?
At first, the challenge was exciting. It was new territory to explore. Well, in this day and age of digital work and all the posting on FB and Instagram, I started to get discouraged. I felt others were moving forward faster and could I catch up? Could I do this? Did I make the right choice to explore surface design? They figured out their style why couldn't I? Well, I've only been at this since March! I thought I had let go of that little perfectionist that butts in every so often. I discovered I hadn't. I'm usually a really positive person but this was kicking my butt!
What changed after joining?
Recently I read Anne's blog on taking imperfect action and that got me back on track again. I also listen to a lot of podcasts while I work for inspiration. I just finished Highlight Reel's How to Work Through Hard Things with Jessica Swift and decided to change my mindset. Anytime I have a negative thought I'm putting a big, red, mental X through it and changing it to a positive thought. I've also given myself permission to dump my first collection idea and work on a different, more pared down collection. I'm considering calling it Imperfect Beauty.
What has been one (or more!) accomplishment since you have gone through the material?
I'm exploring different mediums in creating my art...watercolors, markers, alcohol inks. My wood block prints are inspiring surface designs and my surface designs are inspiring wood block prints. I've also never felt that I could draw (I know, crazy for a graphic designer, right?!). So, I've been watching Skillshare courses and drawing and experimenting and guess what, I can draw! My website is live and I'm moving forward with both my printmaking and surface patterns businesses.
What is a skill you have acquired and cherish from this experience?
I think the coolest thing is taking what I see in the world, turning it into art and finding that other appreciate it.
Why did you choose surface design?
It felt like a wonderful combination of my graphic design and wood block printing. Plus, many have told me that my wood block print lend themselves to textiles. Not sure if I will do textiles or paper or home goods or all of them. So many options.
What’s on the horizon for you, what are you looking forward to?
I'm looking forward to finding a balance between the wood block printing business and the surface design business, getting licensed and my biggest dream is to have a studio space outside my home where I can work and sell my work and teach small classes.
Thank you Heather. Your story is both beautiful and an inspiration for others who want to pursue their creative dreams. Please check out more of Heather’s gorgeous work on her website, social media channels and on Etsy.
I’d like to close by inviting you, dear reader, to join my free LIVE workshop, How to Get Started in Surface Design. I only offer this a few times a year and it’s your opportunity to learn these amazing skills and discover where they will take you!
Share this link to the workshop with your friends. Class starts on August 1st. I can’t wait to see you there.
It’s Never Too Late to Create
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My creative inspiration comes from a lifetime of observation. I grew up in Paris on the Place St. Sulpice and walked to school through the Luxembourg gardens. And that was only the beginning… Learn more by watching the video on my About page.