AMY HEITMAN is an artist, illustrator, wife, and mom of three, living and working in the countryside just outside Grand Rapids, Michigan. We featured four of her beautiful greeting cards in the December 2018 Snailbox, and wanted to know more about the gal behind these charming designs. Below Amy fills us in on how she balances motherhood and artist-hood, works through challenges, and finds inspiration in the simple things.
Tell us about the birth of your greeting card company!
After my firstborn was born in 2010, I left my job as an elementary art teacher to be home with her. I had painted several murals in our community and school district, and thought I could pursue this as a creative outlet and way to supplement our family’s income while being home with my daughter. I posted a few of the murals on a portfolio site and added a few wedding invites I had done for close family and friends to fill some empty spaces. Only one potential mural client contacted me, but I began receiving many requests for custom event stationery and wedding invites.
Shortly after, I became pregnant with our second child, and after several complications, was put on bedrest to try to prevent a miscarriage. I spent five long, uncertain months on bedrest, and during that time a growing number of custom invitation design projects gave me something to fill my days and was such a blessing. Looking back, I can clearly see how God repurposed that time in my life in a way I never could have imagined (and our son was born happy and healthy and truly a miracle).
After a few years of focusing solely on custom work and realizing I was turning away more clients than I could take on, I began to look for a new direction to take my work. I realized that I love handwritten notes — the power a thoughtful note has to be so encouraging and uplifting. I spent almost 9 months creating my initial wholesale stationery line before launching in 2015.
Did you always want to be an artist, even in childhood?
I always knew art would be a part of whatever career I chose. As long as I can remember I’ve spent as much of my spare time as I could drawing, painting, and making things. I never imagined after graduating that I would do anything besides teaching art, but if there is anything I have seen over and over again in my life, it is that God’s plans are not always my plans. I feel so incredibly grateful to be a part of this industry, to be able to create things I love, and to do it surrounded by the people I love. I hope my cards are able to spread a bit of love and light in the world.
What is your favorite medium to create with? Describe your process.
I love painting with acrylics, but all of my greeting card designs are hand-sketched and then colored and finalized on my Wacom tablet.
Where do you find your inspiration?
I find inspiration everywhere in my day-to-day life — in fashion, books, the beauty and simplicity of everyday things, the intricate details of creation, and the places I explore with my children.
What's your solution for combating “creative block” and maintaining productivity?
As a mom, my time for creating is limited, so I try to keep a routine of spending some time each night working on new designs. It takes me a long to time to finalize new designs as I am continuously tweaking and editing until I am finally happy with something, so I find moving on to new projects when I’m feeling stuck or unsure and coming back to it later often gives me a fresh perspective. Separating yourself from something that isn’t really working allows your mind the room to scrap it and move forward with something better.
What does a typical day at your studio look like? How do you manage your time?
After 20+ years, my mom retired from her job in an accounting office and joined my team as my studio and accounts manager almost a year and a half ago, which has truly been so amazing. She manages everything in my studio, with the help of a small team, while my mornings are spent homeschooling my three kids. We eat a late lunch, wrap up school, and then I check in with whoever is in the studio and respond to emails and take care of any admin stuff. I do all of my design work after the kids are in bed for the night, and am so grateful for my amazing little team that keeps things running.
What do you enjoy doing in your “free time?”
I love reading, camping, kayaking and exploring the outdoors with my husband and kids.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced to get to where you are now?
When starting a business, you have to wear so many hats early on, and — like anything in life — the learning process takes time. You often learn things the hard way.
We hear you are working on some fresh greeting card designs. Can you tell us a bit about them?
I aim to release a new collection at least once every year. Our Spring 2018 release was inspired by the county fair grounds just down the road from our studio. In January we’ll be releasing a new collection inspired by folk and fairy tales. I am so excited about it!
We also have several retail collaborations in the works for 2019. I can’t share any details yet, but I am thrilled to have our designs on some new projects!