Meet the Maker: Amber Goodvin, Pro Hand-Letterer, Illustrator and Card Designer
We’re constantly baffled by folks who are able to turn their creativity into a full-time job. Not only does it inspire us to make more things more often, but we love sharing their stories with all of you, with the hope that you’ll take a similar leap sometime in the future. Today’s case in point? Amber Goodvin, a full-time illustrator, hand-letterer and card artist at Hallmark.
Now, let’s meet this pro maker!
What is the story of how you got to where you are today?
I still remember the buzz I felt the first time we traced letters in Type class. I have always loved words, and have always loved to draw; type class was where it all came together for me. Studying graphic design + illustration at the University of Kansas, I found myself looking for ways to incorporate words into whatever I was working on. My feeble attempts at handlettering apparently showed enough genuine interest to land me an internship in the lettering studio at Hallmark. It was here that I got to shadow 15 artists who I still revere — all formally trained and experts in the craft of lettering. Making cards is a relatively quick process, and in the early years of my career, I had a steady stream of quick-moving assignments in a wide range of styles. This allowed me the time to experiment and try things before I started to find my voice.
What was your first job? What other jobs and life experience led you to a career as a professional maker/creative?
Hallmark was my first job and still my current one. The culture here at Hallmark is very nurturing of artists and we are always being given opportunities to try new disciplines. Our building has a ceramics studio, a laser lab, a fibers/sewing studio and a woodworking shop. We also lead optional workshops within our teams that focus on something specific like embroidery, watercolor, surface design, etc. so I feel like I am constantly learning and trying new things.
What is the weirdest, most unusual or worst job you’ve ever had?
I worked at this little burger place in Wichita called NuWay. It was great because it really did teach me a lot, like being on time and not saying “sorry” too much. I have good memories of tip jars and creating new (gross) milkshake flavors with my fellow waitstaff.
What inspires you? Why do you love to design, create and make?
Children’s books are my biggest inspiration. I love beautiful images, and when they are paired with charming writing, that is the best. I also love watching other people do their thing, exploring a new city, painting side-by-side with a friend. I love to create things for the people I love, which I think is why Hallmark is a good fit for me.
What does it feel like to be in the middle of a creative moment for you?
I can definitely feel it when I’ve hit the right flow in my creative process. Not thinking too hard, not trying to control anything, but still being very focused and removed from the rest of the world. It helps to be well-caffeinated and have a big chunk of time to let your mind go and see where it takes you.
What’s one piece of advice you’d share with other makers?
I really love what Ira Glass says about the creative “gap”: how your taste level is light years ahead of your ability when you start out. Like anything creative, it doesn’t happen overnight — you get good by putting in lots of time and sticking with it until you start to catch up to your taste.
What other makers inspire you?
These can be fine artists, jewelry makers, fashion designers and more! Textiles and fiber arts always really appeal to me and inspire me and make me want to learn. I am always charmed by Donna Wilson’s plush, Flora Chang’s ceramics and wood bowls, Hammerpress letterpress cards and posters.
What’s on your studio playlist?
Harry Potter audiobooks! Music distracts me, but because I’ve read Harry Potter so much it kind of soothes me to be able to tune in and out of it.
Tell us how technology has changed and supported what you do.
In school, my illustration work was almost all traditional media. When I began to get more comfortable on the computer, I think I went overboard in creating everything digitally. Now, my work has a balance of both — I try to preserve the imperfections from my drawing/painting while using programs to help me save time with the sketching process or creating color versions.
What do you love about teaching people to make? And inspiring people who don’t think they are traditionally creative?
It can be intimidating to step out on your own and build a business from the ground up. As part of our collaboration with Office Depot, we're talking with Selfmade alum and solopreneur Colette Lawrence, the faith-based motivator and relationship builder behind The M.E.E. Movement, about ways in which women in business can find success.
B + C: How did you know M.E.E. Movement was your business to start?
The M.E.E Movement represents motivation, empowerment, and encouragement for women. It is what represents me. I did not know at first that it was my business to start, but then the thought of monetizing what I loved came to me. It scared me, however. I registered the business in July 2020 and have been slowly building my wings since.
B + C: What's one strategy that's helped you start your business?
Thinking through and researching what the requirements are to start my business, and then asking questions of people who are in the business. Not all advice worked; however, it helped me to figure out what I needed to do and not to do.
B + C: Did you always know life coaching would be your entrepreneurial path?
(Smiles) No, I did not. I 'stumbled" on it. I knew that people were always coming to me for advice and I found that I loved having conversations with them, especially with women, young and old.
B + C: What was your most valuable takeaway from Selfmade?
My most valuable takeaway was the first day of training: Get out of your own way. There were a lot of great moments and important takeaways from every presenter. However, getting out of my own way, pushing past doubts, was for me my most valuable takeaway. Doing something that I had never done before took courage. If I do not focus on what is happening with me mentally then I cannot deliver to my clients successfully.
B + C: What's one piece of advice you would give to female entrepreneurs on the brink of starting?
Get out of your head. You have something to offer. You have what you need to succeed so go ahead and do it.
B + C: How do you stay motivated?
I stay motivated by listening to music and listening to motivational speakers, and sometimes someone will just reach out and talk about the impact that I made in their life. That adds the extra juice or sauce I need to pummel through the day.
B + C: What's your best organizational tip?
Keep a diary and journal. It's the best way for me to keep organized and it also provides a source motivation as I record not only my "losses" but my wins as well.
B + C: Who inspires you in the entrepreneurial space?
Shirley Toliver – She motivates and empowers and makes me always want to show up.
B + C: What has receiving the Office Depot scholarship to Selfmade done to help you start or grow your business?
The scholarship was a blessing in that all the areas that were covered offered valuable information that I needed, from social media to HR. As a new business owner, I needed to know this to increase my own personal awareness in what it takes to run a successful business. The candidness of the presenters made it easy to see myself in their shoes and helped me to realize that I can also get there.
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Head to Office Depot's Selfmade page to check out even more amazing business resources (and discounts!) to help you accomplish more on your entrepreneurial journey. These offers are available for a limited time only, so be sure to take advantage of all this goodness while supplies last. Want to join the next Selfmade cohort this summer? Check out all of the scholarship details right here.