As I have been working on this site, I realized it can be more than I originally planned.
At first, I intended it just to be a hub for everything I am doing and links to my various endeavors. But as I thought about it and continued to design (and redesign) the main page, I realized I really should take it further.
This is really about my journey and getting back to my creativity. So I need to let you know where that journey has gone during my so far 60 years on this planet.
As I child, I was the kid that was off in a corner by themselves either reading or drawing. I was never the one to run around playing sports, ride a bike, or being social with my peers. I was the kid that was bullied, that struggled to find her own voice. Who rarely raised her hand because knowing the answer was enough without showing off and attracting the attention of my bullies. Perhaps due to being an only child and the bullying, I was never comfortable around other kids – I tended to hang out with the adults more volunteering to help my teachers (which of course added “teacher’s pet” fuel to the bullying).
Art was my biggest escape thru elementary and junior high school and some of my fondest memories were making crafts with my father who was an amateur artist himself. My parents encouraged me to create (though my mom didn’t appreciate the paint I got on just about every set of bedsheets she ever bought me!), and I never just did a school report – I did a book with a cover page, illustrations, and sometimes a diorama to boot! (Yeah, the bullies loved to pick on me for them too as you might have guessed).
It wasn’t until high school I started to feel like I found my people…science fiction fans. In 9th grade, I took a 1 semester class about science fiction which I fell in love with when I was 12 and “discovered” the original Star Trek in syndication. I made great friends in that class and helped form a sci-fi club creating a monthly magazine that was my first venture into graphic design. Not knowing what I wanted to do with my life yet, I took secretarial classes thinking it would be a way to earn a living while I figured it out. I crammed in as many art classes as I could and started learning about computers thanks to the Commodore 64 my dad got me for Christmas.
I graduated from high school in June 1981 – and 2 days later, my parents and I moved from New Jersey to Florida. I had a vague idea that maybe I would check out art schools or Disney or something, but I never had a plan.
Starting Over in Florida
Not knowing anyone at all in Florida, I found a job as a secretarial assistant and started a chapter of Starfleet International, a Star Trek fan club, to meet like minded people in my new home. I started going to science fiction conventions, discovered the SCA medieval recreationists, and met others which led me to so many things I might eventually dive into in this blog, but back to art.
That secretarial job introduced me to someone that led me to finding my path in the second job I got – a small ad agency. I dived deep into learning graphic design and typography thru books and seminars. I spent hours at the local print shop they used learning every step of the production process. That company got one of the first computers – an IBM 1101 dual floppy drive PC. As they expanded, they got other equipment which I dove into learning inside and out. At some point, I realized art school was no longer needed – I had learned more on the job than I probably would have otherwise.
I stayed at the ad agency for 13 years until they switched to becoming an in-house marketing agency for a larger company and the job changed to something I no longer enjoyed. I tried to do freelance graphic design though really hated the process of finding clients so moved thru several jobs over the next few years including being the graphic designer at a print shop and teaching 3D animation and video production at Full Sail University in Orlando. I also built a successful science fiction convention which ran for more than 12 years and this period ended with my being an administrative assistant and website designer with a small communications company and my first experience setting up an ecommerce store for them.
Going it Alone
Then came 2000, a bad breakup with my business partner/fiancé, and striking out on my own both personally and professionally. Eventually, I moved in with a friend who encouraged me in 2001 to start my own ecommerce stores and Sensual Elegance was born. It later became one of many stores that would become LABEShops family of stores.
My focus shifted from art to business and I really dove deep into building a successful business. While I enjoyed the challenge, I really missed the creativity and passion I had in previous years. I bought a house in beautiful Sanford, Florida in 2005 giving me the space my growing business needed. It wasn’t until years later when my best friend had moved out I realized her former bedroom would make a great art studio.
Creating my art studio in 2019 really inspired me to dive back into a lot of old hobbies and start new ones. . I started painting, making candles and resin casting again, tee-shirts and printed objects, and other fun things. I added a 3D printer to dust off my 3D modeling skills I had learned, added a Silhouette Cameo 4 Plus to make stickers and other cool items, and in 2021, turned my underused drafting table into a jewelers bench as I expanded my wire weaving jewelry into fabricated designs. Some of my creations have become original products for my ecommerce shops, and some I added to sell on Etsy and other platforms.
I also dusted off the tee-shirt design skills I had experimented a bit with before to join the Merch by Amazon program in 2017. I didn’t do much with it until March 2023 when I started working on it and other platforms in earnest at which time I also launched this website to become a portfolio and hub for the varied platforms I am designing on. I am also converting one of my store domains, Majestic Dragonfly, into a shop for my art designs on apparel and home decor.
Today, I feel like I really have found my creative self again. I spend nearly every afternoon in my art studio creating art either painting or with my Wacom Cintiq tablet at my HP Omen PC, designing 3D objects to print on my 3 Creality 3D Printers, or creating jewelry. I have been getting back into graphic design working on several self-published planners, workbooks and coloring books which will be out soon.
It has definitely been a journey to get to where I am now, but I have mostly enjoyed the adventure and look forward to the next 60 years. I invite you to join me for the ride.