Meet the Maker: Amber Goodvin, Pro Hand-Letterer, Illustrator and Card Designer
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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.

It’s part of our series dedicated to all things Studio Ink, Hallmark’s incredibly cool and quirky card site. Studio Ink seeks out artists and writers to collaborate and create “perfectly unpolished” postcards, greeting cards, stationery and gifts. Each piece is simple, light-hearted and all about adding a moment of delight to the recipient’s day. You can send digital cards (for free!) as well as postcards. And you can shop all of Amber’s beautifully lettered cards right here.

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?

I was really inspired at the 2014 Re:Make conference to hear the statistic that “77% of people feel like they have lost their creativity.” I really believe everyone has something inside them that only they can make. I teach hand lettering at the University of Kansas, and watching design students return to drawing, or trying new tools like the brush or pointed pen always brings surprises and joy — for them and for me.

What other things do you love to make?

I love sewing things for my son like Christmas stockings or Halloween costumes, but I am terrible at it because I do it so infrequently. My son went as our dog last Halloween, and after many tearful fittings and reconstructions, the final product ended up giving him a rash. So I think that was my first and final costume attempt.  I also really enjoy cooking (fancy breakfasts especially.)

And there you have it! Straight up inspiration from a professional artist. Know a maker with a story to tell? Tell us about them in the comments below!

This post is a collaboration with Hallmark’s Studio Ink.