“You must do something to make the world more beautiful.”
– Barbara Cooney, Miss Rumphius
Why, what, how
Creating Joy with ART that CElebrates what’s most importanT.
Bring joy to clients. Celebrate what is most important to them. Capture the fire of our clients through artistic reinvention – personal, occasion and brand identity focused design. Deliver with delight.
Leverage traditional fine-art, calligraphy and typography techniques while embracing modern stylizing and graphic art tech. Bring each piece freshly to life. Offset environmental impacts wherever possible.
Art, Design & Calligraphy
+ Ink illustrations, shaded with watercolor washes, paired with calligraphy, digitized into graphic artwork designs.
+ Original chiaroscuro acrylic paintings.
Designs grounded in the spirit of personalized artwork; classic-meets-modern heraldic crests, emblems, and full achievements to create modern personal, cause, and organizational brand identities
Art, architecture, and gardens
I went to my first art camp at 11 at the colonial revival Hill-Stead Museum mansion in Connecticut. Thanks Mom! We painted their sunken gardens, historical building, and learned about their French impressionist masterpieces. I will forever love painting botanicals and grand venues, respecting strong women leaders, and being apart of an artistic community. Shout out to Theodate Pope Riddle.
Gotta catch them all
I was lucky enough to have a family that encouraged a love of art and design. My mom majored in Art and Art History at Amherst, and later graduated from UVA’s architecture school. She gave me watercolors when I was little, enrolled me in the Hill-Stead camp, and brought us to museums and historic venues.
The aunts would bring our collective cousins to the Met. As a crew we often played kings, queens, knights and peasants…. with massive forts and rules to achieve greater hierarchy. So, we enjoyed seeing the knights and pharaohs. Note; we’ve since agreed we are more of a socialist republic and all cousins and future generations are equal.
Beyond enjoying the mummies, swords, and art we played games to see who could find enough of those now-iconic and retired metal tags with its “da Vinci M” logo. I loved that one little letter plus some artwork was attached to so many feels.
Does it hurt? asked the boy
My maternal grandmother had the most wonderful collection of old children’s books shelved in the rooms reserved for our vacation visits. From Tennis Shoes and Dancing Shoes (the ones Meg Ryan talks about in You’ve Got Mail) to the full Wizard of Oz series. I was obsessed with the illustrations, from book cover to chapter starters.
My favorite was the Marvelous Land of OZ #sawhorse pictured here. Bizarre, a little dark, incredibly fantastical, and beautiful black ink designs – sometimes colorized.
painting her toes
My uncle, Michael Sloan, is also a talented cartoonist – he gifted me this painting as a kid in ’94. It now hangs in my art studio above my desk.
Since then, he made a cartoon series on an immigrant family which won a Pulitzer. But that’s another story and you can read about it here.
My dad is a scientist and engineer (though, we have paintings of his around the house too!). I was lucky enough to grow up with a computer, and a Dad who taught me first MS paint and then gave me exploratory access to Photoshop.
I designed my first floral shirt for my elementary school’s spring fair for my sister’s year. My mom said they needed a design so I whipped one up in Paint. Thanks Dad for finding the shirt… I had laughed when I looked at my current pieces and saw a still similar albeit grown up style. Lol to the Times New Roman- but you have to appreciate the playing with fonts, semi-symmetrical feel, and botanical line drawing cartoon. I still put little stars on lots of my whimsical pieces.
In high school a crew of us held an art gala with our pieces to raise money for the Tsunami disaster in ’04. I sold a couple pieces, including this saxophone one, inspired by Miles Davis – Kind of Blue. The album cover is also above my art studio desk.
For calligraphy, I love to listen to Jazz, the Bach Cello Suites played by Yo Yo Ma, or the PBS Pride and Prejudice soundtrack. We used to watch the series as a family, semi-obsessively. I was floored when my first calligraphy teacher put the P&P soundtrack on in our classes, and felt right at home.
For art, I love an eclectic mix of Sylvan Esso, Pinback, Wilco, The Who, Apocalyptica, Chance the Rapper, Shovels and Rope… My brother got so sick of me playing the Apocalyptica title album on repeat in my art room in high school, but my go to is to keep the same vibe going while finishing a piece or series.
ITALian, Roman, and Grecian – Oh My
For college, I picked Wililam and Mary. Yep, that’s in colonial Williamsburg – going back to Hill-Stead roots. Freshman year I started a side job called Lydia-Tate Designs, creating and managing websites, including for the schools Art and Art history department.
The summer after Junior year, my future business partner and I studied Art and Art History in Sicily. My highlight of our studies there was going to a dig run by a family friend at UVA in Morgantina. And, getting exposed to all things heraldry through the ages.
take me to the woods
I essentially minored in art, but have always loved data and business (including running that website freelancing company). So, I majored in Process Management and Consulting from the William and Mary Mason School of Business. The program includes lots of liberal arts courses up front, and finishes with a two year intensive program.
By senior year I enjoyed escaping to the land of 2-D art with late evenings in the Matoaka Art Studio situated in the woods overlooking Matoaka Lake. Working on designs there was a nice break from our business team intensives.
Flash forward to my first calligraphy class in ’16. I took a six week copperplate calligraphy intensive at a local art studio, Binders in Ponce City Market, with my incredible talented teacher Anne Elsner. She taught me “Calligraphy is less about pretty handwriting and more about DRAWING each and every letter. It’s about establishing a pacing and rhythmic motion as you write – giving you a consistency of shapes and letters, and spaces in between words and lines. It is highly relaxing and meditative. Like yoga for the hands, it centers, calms, and enchants the person making as well as and the person admiring it.” In the midst of a busy consulting word, I loved going back to the zen of art classes, removed from reality of emails, pings, and calls for a brief respite.
I inevitably started adding illustrations to my calligraphy, creating stationery, and curating postage for my addressing projects. In sharing my new love of designing all things stationery, I found out that my paternal grandfather was a vintage postage stamp collector (and he gifted me tons of goodies). I love vintage postage so much -they bring a tiny piece of art and art history to a normal day. And I realized my cousin in law is a master calligrapher and stationer. I’m incredibly lucky to have such a creative and inspirational family.
I absolutely love my job in the business world as a customer experience consultant. But, I yearned for a way to connect my two worlds. And I wanted to make creative things again beyond (very pretty) PPTs and customer journeys. So, I started taking on custom commissions for creative work in my free time. Eventually, formalizing it into a business. Bespoke artwork includes a similar requirements gathering skill set to business consulting. My common thread was, solving problems unique to each person. And, I had all my past art life to lean on.
In 2016, Alison Hight – my roommate and study abroad pal from Sicily – joined me in a general partnership. We ramped up our strategic vision and re-branded from my name to Paper Phoenix Designs (I need to do a post on our name!). Alison brought a unique set of experiences, expertise in art history and archaeology, an eye for design, organization, and talented web dev skills. Since then, Alison has moved to Austin, joining WP Engine where she put her customer focus meets web dev skills to great use.
In early 2018, I re-organized as an LLC. Today the biz fondly goes by a more succinct Paper Phoenix.