I Create: Heidi Panelli, THE BusyBodies pro

Heidi Panelli
Wife,Mother,T-Shirt designer, shopkeeper, webmaster,
blogger… Sr. Designer/Illustrator

Website: BusyBodies
Blog: Creative Gumption


I’ve met Heidi twice now, very short business conferences where we shared insights and ideas for similar industry topics. Not only is she a fantastic designer, but her design work reflects only a portion of her outgoing, vibrant, loving spirit and personality.

I now have the opportunity to share with you a small bit of the behind the scenes view of this Designer Mind…

What do you create?

Wow…that’s a big question! I create lots of things: illustrations, graphic design, CafePress products.

Figure Skating
Martial Arts
Gift Basket Designer
Artist (Draw)
Improv / Comedy
Basket Weaving

At my day job I work at a company that makes educational materials. I design and illustrate things like learning charts (sometimes realistic illustrations of animals or the human body), Bulletin Board Sets (large
rt to decorate bulletin boards…everything from a big cartoon smiling sun to more realistic illustrations of the first Easter), stickers (sparkle, or scratch ‘n’ sniff “good job”, stuff that teachers put on papers), trimmers (those decorative, scalloped strips of paper that teachers use to frame bulletin boards). There’s a whole host of things I design there.

In my spare time I like to create gardens & landscaping projects. I love baking desserts, cookies, cakes. I like knitting with a knitting loom. I love painting and interior decorating. I like making gift baskets & photo albums, too. For holidays I’ve made elaborate ginger bread houses, carved and airbrushed pumpkins, & made sugar eggs for Easter. I hope to have all of this stuff up on a personal website someday.

What medium do you enjoy most?

Computer graphics: Photoshop and Illustrator. When I’m off the computer, I still prefer a good ol’ pencil & paper.

What title would you give yourself?

For my home life it’s “Wife” and “Mother.”

For my freelance stuff it’s “T-Shirt designer, shopkeeper, webmaster, blogger”.

For my day job, it’s “Sr. Designer/Illustrator.”

How did you get started?

My mom always encouraged us (my sister, brother and I) to be creative.
Being an artist herself, she always provided us with an endless supply of paper!

What do you want to be when you grow up?

Happy & content with my life & never bored.

Name three favorite artists/designers/creatives:

Mort Drukker (Mad caricature artist)
Wayne Vincent (illustrator I’ve always liked)
my Mom (Rollie Brandt…she’s a fine artist/painter with Wild Wings)

What kind of training, schooling or other learning experiences have you gone through that have helped you get to where you are now?

Life was the best training…just working!

But I also learned a lot attending UW-Stout where I earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art with a concentration in Graphic Design. Even still, college is overrated. I learned way more from seeking out mentors and learning on the job.

I also worked as a caricature artist at ValleyFair amusement park in high school and college for 7 summers. This was an invaluable experience for me. I learned to work with the public and have people watch over my shoulder all day long…I got used to criticism real quick in a job like that! But the bulk of the day was usually making people laugh.

I’ve always been lucky to have worked with people who know lots more than I do and I was never afraid to ask questions. Be inquisitive and a good listener and you’d be surprised at what people can teach you! I’ve learned something from everyone I’ve worked with over the years.

Most recently I took some community college classes last spring to learn more about HTML and currently learn a lot online for free!

Do you feel you’re successful?

Yes. I’m very blessed.

What do you like most about what you do?

I just love to create stuff and I also enjoy the people I meet onlineand off line through my projects. People make the work meaningful.

What #1 piece advice can you offer to those which might like to “follow in your footsteps”?

Be willing to work at it, whatever you do. Anything worth having doesn’t come easy. And do something you enjoy! Stay humble…you can always learn from others, even when you’ve become an “expert.”

What are you most proud of?

My marriage & baby girl.

I suppose things I’m proud of in my professional life, art-wise really vary. Sometimes it’s a project that I personally learned a lot from or just like how it turned out (i.e. if I just tried a new illustration style, or tackled a tough subject matter), sometimes it’s a project that I don’t care much for but am proud that it made the client really happy.
It varies.

Other comments and ideas you’d like to share:


Check out Heidi’s newest project…
a fun new photo gallery of art and
sculpture created solely from
kneaded erasers.



For more great insight about Heidi Panelli,
check out her blog: Creative Gumption


and her online store: BusyBodies





[tags] Heidi Panelli, Art, Design, CafePress, T-shirts, Illustration, Creativity, family[/tags]

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