Wednesday 6/28/17 time 2:29 PM

Background as an artist
I was born in California and have lived in Las Vegas Nevada, Colorado, Wyoming, Utah, and then back to Colorado. I graduated with my Bachelor of Arts in Graphic Design and minor in Studio Art in 2002. Although I knew I wanted to teach graphic design early on, I knew having practical experience in my field would benefit myself as well as my students. I’ve worked as a Graphic Designer for 17 years and had a freelance business on the side for 11 years. I just completed my second year of the MFA program at Colorado State University.
How did you end up choosing your media? 
Right after my son was born I decided it was time to go back to school. I knew I wanted to do something creative. I had always enjoyed the arts and I had become a cake decorator and Bakery Manager at a local grocery store. I quit my full-time job and my Dad asked me if I wanted to help him with his off-road business by making commercials and logos. I jumped on the opportunity and in the meantime, I discovered the career path that fit me.
What do you find as the best and worst sides of being an artist?
Working with clients is a double-edged sword. I love the challenge of solving problems and finding many solutions for one project and I enjoy working with people. I also enjoy the freedom of being able to pick up extra work on the side or just relying on my freelance work if I need a break from working for someone else. I can work from anywhere, even the beach! I just need my computer and I am ready to go.
Some of the challenges I have encountered are difficult clients, explaining there is no magic wand–things take time, connecting with stable freelance clients. Graphic Design takes commitment and drive to stay on top of deadlines. I have worked for companies where I am the only designer in the department so there is no one else to help when things are busy. I have been at the office or working from home until all hours of the night. Deadlines take priority!
Is this your first time in Finland? What kind of expectations did you have about Finland/ Joutsa?
I visited London once my senior year of undergrad for my 5-year wedding anniversary but this is my first time in Finland. As for expectations, I was expecting beautiful scenery, a quiet place to work, and new experiences to inspire me. I was looking for a place to focus on my Thesis topic and think about where I am going with my work and my teaching.
What are the best sides / opportunities in having an art residency?
Having an art residency allows me the freedom to focus on what I need to focus on without the daily distractions and responsibilities I have at home. To be in a beautiful country so different than mine own allows opens so many doors for me. It has given me the opportunity to explore, reflect, be inspired, make new friends, and find a balance that I desperately needed. I am walking away from my residency feeling rejuvenated.
What are your plans after Haihatus?
I plan to finish my last year of the MFA program and graduate in May next year. I will be applying for teaching positions at colleges and focusing on my teaching philosophy.
How does Haihatus meet your expectations?
Haihatus gave me exactly what I needed. A quiet place with the freedom to do what I needed to do every day. Sometimes that included going to Hypoteekki for a delicious pastry! Joutsa is small enough to get around easily by bike and large enough to have variety in places to explore. I was also able to take a bus/train to Lahti, Mikkeli, and Jyväskylä.
There are many Museums and art exhibitions in Finland. I encourage residents to seek them out. Be sure to allow some time to explore Helsinki because there are some amazing museums, cathedrals and must see sites. Other recommendations: visit the free gym in Joutsa, the library is a great place to work, visit the forest and the beach, explore, try new foods, and make sure to try the pastries at Hypoteekki.
Haihatus was an experience I will never forget. I thought having a family meant I would not be able to take the time for a residency but having the support at home and everyone pulling together to make this happen is something I will never forget. Haihatus provided the environment I needed to have a fresh perspective and a jump start on my last year of my MFA. I gained a lot from sharing my work and seeing others work. I loved talking to artists from different countries and learning new things. We learn from each other and making life-long connections here is inevitable. I will forever be grateful for this opportunity.

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