The 2021 Wise Women Project features interviews and portraits of women over 50 with the goal of recognizing the many ways women contribute and provide inspiration to our community. These are their stories. Want to participate? Learn more here.
How old are you? 56
What is your profession/work today?
In-house Graphic Designer for the National Park Service
How did you decide to follow this path?
I took art classes when I was young. They were the highlight of my days and made me feel confident. When it came time to choose a college major, it seemed an obvious course of action. I don’t know what I would have done otherwise.
How has your work evolved as you have become older?
In the early days I did a lot of print work, learning to use a computer on my first professional job and working with print shops to acquire that knowledge. Now of course, I have a lot of digital, web-based projects which require a different process. Applying what I know about design to different platforms and technologies has meant continually redeveloping my skills.
What about how you approach work as you have become older?
Over time, I’ve learned to take my work less seriously. There are people that go to their jobs every day and save lives. Those are serious professions and it’s been especially poignant this past year. I’m more grateful than ever to do the work I do. I’ve learned to have more fun, experiment, and try new things. I’ve changed agencies and locations a few times and what I’ve learned in the process is that relationships within my office setting are as rewarding as the work I turn out. I’ve been fortunate to find myself among extremely talented, resilient and supportive women who’ve become instrumental in the trajectory of my career as well as my personal life. I wanted to participate in this project for that very reason. Women supporting women! We’re experiencing similar life transitions at this point, no matter what path we took to get here. It feels like a club, a sisterhood, a place to gain strength, courage and learn from one another as well as trust that we can lean on each other. I also wanted a snapshot of this place in time where I am right now. I’m happy, healthy and competent, and I want to capture and hold on to this.
What does the work you do mean to you especially at this stage of life?
Being a creative is a substantial part of who I am, it centers me. That I’ve supported myself by applying this part of me is rewarding. I’m fortunate and grateful that I’ve managed to spend my career doing work that I love.
What is it that you most love about your work?
My workload is diverse, every day is different, finishing up one project and beginning another that’s a completely different product. And always learning something new along the way, something that can be built upon the next day. It’s fast-paced and requires quick decision-making and problem-solving on the fly. It’s the perfect work for my easily distracted brain. I feel accomplished when turning over a project to a client who’s enthusiastic about the work I’ve done.
What is/has been the biggest roadblock to you in your work?
It’s been challenging to learn the necessary technology and stay up to date when it’s continually changing. I never have something completely figured out before moving on to a new way of doing the same thing.
How did you/are you pushing past that roadblock?
Research, taking classes, online lessons, attending conferences and aligning myself with people who are in-the-know.
Share a favorite inspirational quote:
“The best thing you could do is master the chaos in you. You are not thrown into the fire, you are the fire.” ~ Mama Indigo
Advice to anyone wanting to work in your profession and who is over the age of 50?
Be flexible, adaptable to change and be kind to yourself. You’re not gonna figure it out over night. I honestly don’t know where someone should start. I wonder if my craft has become a bit of a lost art. The industry has changed so much since I began my career, I’m certain that the artistry that was required at one time is very different from the learned techniques students are coming out of college with now. The field has become technology-based and I don’t know if I’d go into it if I were to start now.
Anything you want to add?
I see this time in my life as an alluring opportunity to explore and reimagine the coming years. Responsibilities that once held my attention require less consideration. My daughter is grown, my career is closer to the end than the beginning and I’m experiencing a sense of liberation. My life has become my own. The energy I used to exert while caring for others I can now lavish on myself. I don’t know what that will look like moving forward, but I’m using my intuition as my north star and looking forward to creative possibilities ahead.
Favorite work project this year: Graphics for Shuttles at Yellowstone National Park, 2021
Yellowstone National Park secured two new 3-D printed, driverless, electric shuttles this year. As if that wasn’t cool enough, I was tasked with designing the graphic wraps as seen below!