I was lucky enough to have been born into an artistic environment. My mom, Lori Siebert, who is no stranger to the Women Create community, has been a constant creative force in my life. My parents started their small, successful design firm just two years after graduating from college. Their combined tenacity paired with my mom’s creative vision have inspired my personal creative journey in more ways than one. It would be impossible for me to describe my path in the creative field without giving this credit where credit is due. A lot of my journey has stemmed from their influence and support, and now I am beginning to make a name for myself in the design field.
In some ways, I am at a crossroads within my professional journey. My parents have helped pave a path for me, but as they approach a well-deserved retirement, I am still grappling with where my path leads. This is both equally terrifying and exciting. I’ve always had the support of my parents’ company, but now I’m in the beginning stages of developing my own business plan. But before I get into my present, let me back up with where I’ve been. I have happily worked for the family business for the last seven years. Prior to this, I worked for a branding firm where I had the unique pleasure of designing diapers and feminine hygiene products. Before working in this field, I NEVER thought about the fact that people actually design these everyday commodity goods. A lot of thought and strategy goes into every aspect of a brand, and I loved being someone who hopefully brought a little bit of joy into a consumer’s experience, even with disposable products. This job taught me so much, both in preparation for my own journey into motherhood as well as strategic design thinking.
Ultimately, I had a goal to join the ranks of the family business, and the time for this felt right after the birth of my first son. When I first joined my parents’ company, I was primarily digitizing my mom’s designs as her in-house designer. At this point, I was not really creating my own art for professional uses. If I’m being honest, part of this was the lack of confidence in my own talent, along with inexperience in the field.
It has been such a privilege to work and learn from my amazingly talented mom. However, at times this has also been a personal struggle. I feel as though I have extremely large shoes to fill!
Full disclosure: My relation to such a talent, and exposure to her successes, has at times filled my head with self-doubt. Does my work stand on its own, comparatively? Am I just riding on the coattails of my mother’s success? These thoughts have inevitably crept in from time to time. But I’m finally getting to a point where I see our work/styles/career paths separately, each with its own platform.
“When we own our stories, we avoid being trapped as characters in stories someone else is telling.”
— Brené Brown
Over the last four years or so, our working relationship has transitioned. At this stage, we manage our designs independently while checking in for each other’s valued opinion. Some things happened to allow for this transition. One major factor was my discovery of digital media. In the midst of the COVID lockdown, I started to question my own creative path.
Up until that point, I had an inkling that I wasn’t tapping into my own creativity in a fulfilling way. I was (and still am) constantly inspired by many types of illustration, but unlike my mom, I have never been drawn to fine art mediums. I was seeing so many illustrators I admire delve into digital media and decided I was ready to take the plunge, invest in an iPad, and see where the digital road would lead.
My iPad is now my best friend. Along with my sketchbook, it travels everywhere with me. I love the convenience factor, the versatility in tools, the double-tap undo and the ability to paint with both color and an eraser. When I first started out, I made a promise to myself that I would commit to drawing something, anything, daily. I think this consistent daily practice laid the foundation for honing my skills towards my personal illustration style. And now I have the confidence to work with clients individually to develop art collections under my own name.
My process almost always starts with a tiny black-and-white thumbnail sketch. An idea will pop into my head at any given time, and I quickly grab my favorite ink pen to jot it down. Many of these sketches might be illegible to anyone else, but I have to get my thought down before it’s lost in the swirl of my full-to-the-brim, working- mom brain. My sketchbook is not one of those beautifully curated, colorful sketchbooks. Rather, it is full of all of my notes, thoughts, quick little ideas and, sometimes, surprise love notes from my 7-year-old son. (I love stumbling upon these.)
Another large part of my process is research, research, research. I am constantly scrolling and saving illustration styles, motifs, color palettes and lettering that I admire. I also love quirky and clever wordplay. Puns are one of my love languages. A lot of my original illustration concepts start with a phrase that I love or think up and want to share visually. It can be really difficult to feel like you’re standing out in the illustration community when there is SO much talent. But what I try to do that (hopefully) begins to separate my work is create a piece that speaks to people both aesthetically and emotionally. I like creating little stories in my pieces. One of my favorite things to do is add in special touches or discoverable details that might not be seen when people first view a piece.
My ultimate goal is to create happy, relatable art. A lot of my illustrations also tend to skew toward a children’s aesthetic. I think part of this comes from my background designing diapers, as well as being a mom of two young boys. Those two boys constantly make me smile, which is my wish for everyone who sees my art.
“The noblest art is that of making others happy.”
— P.T. Barnum
Once I have a concept that I’m ready to digitally paint, I will bring my sketch into Procreate. From there, it’s a lot of trial and error with colors, brushes and textures. I have my favorite, go-to palettes and brushes that I use on almost all my pieces, but I also love experimenting. There are so many options that when I was first learning Procreate, I was extremely overwhelmed. But now that I have my tried-and-true palettes, I feel more comfortable playing around and trying new techniques.
I have a really hard time sticking to one specific style. I’m inspired by too many things to stay in one lane. I sometimes feel like my art can be all over the place, but if I take a step back, I think you can tell it all comes from the same hand.
Additionally, since my degree is in graphic design and I do have experience in both branding and home decor, I can be somewhat of a design chameleon. I pride myself on being able to run with a trend, even if it is not geared toward my specific taste. I admire so many artists who have developed their unique niche style, but I also think there is something to be said for those who can bend to the whims of the trends.
Art licensing allows me to stretch my creativity since there are so many types of products where art can live. From greeting cards to pillows to fabric, etc., I try to think of the versatility for each piece or collection.
All in all, my personal art journey has been extremely fulfilling up to this point. I have met incredible artists from all over the globe through the Instagram art community. I have worked with amazing product developers who have brought my art to life in ways I would never even consider; and I have gotten to work with and learn from my parents, both professionally and personally.
I may not know what is to come, but I feel as though I’m on the precipice of the next phase in my career. And I’m so thankful to be able to create what I love and share it with the world.