If you asked someone here to describe the work of Pam Trautman, they probably would use words like imaginative, dreamlike, surreal and magical. Pam is an accomplished artist at American Greetings whose work in photo illustration and manipulation as well as animation often exceeds expectations. Now lets meet the artist: Pam Trautman…
When did you first realize you are an artist?
I suppose I knew this when I was in elementary school. I always looked forward to doing anything creative in class, whether we were cutting up construction paper to make posters or decorating shoe boxes for Valentine’s Day. I started taking art classes in 7th grade and that is when I realized I liked to draw and paint.
What is your position at American Greetings and what is your background as an artist?
My position is Senior Creative Developer. After receiving a BFA from art school with an illustration/graphic design degree, I got a job doing “paste up” and simple brochure designs as an in-house freelancer. A year later I was hired full time by the same company to do illustration and computer cell animation. I eventually gravitated to design and building web sites using “Flash” software, which led me to my current position with American Greetings.
Could you tell us some more about your work?
I concept, design and animate digital greetings for both the American Greetings and Blue Mountain brands. Collaborating with writers, artists and musicians is my favorite part of creating an ecard. When I team up with another artist, I typically create the art for the setting or scene while the other artist animates a main character. I enjoy working in Photoshop and Painter to do photo illustration and manipulation along with Flash and After Effects to animate the art. It is fun to experiment with the combination of art and movement. The outcome is always something surprising and rewarding. The card shown below is a great example of how well our collaboration process works at American Greetings.
What is it that inspires you when creating a particular design or graphic piece?
I am inspired when I can apply a new animation technique that I have always wanted to do or when I look at a beautiful piece of art that I find in a book or on an artist’s blog. I am also inspired during brainstorm sessions when someone presents cool ideas quickly and “off the top of their head”.
What’s your favorite piece/ecard ever created and why?
My favorite ecard is one I just finished for the upcoming Easter holiday called “Everlasting Light”. Because this greeting needed to incorporate religious iconography, my challenge was how to create a card that still had universal appeal. I feel I achieved the desired effect with a more subtle representation of a cross using the simplicity of nature–we’ll see how the card performs in a few weeks.
What famous artists or graphic designers have influenced you?
I am influenced by the creativity in movies such as, “Avatar”, “Pan’s Labyrinth”, “Alice and Wonderland” and “Toy Story“. In addition, I’m inspired by the great Leonardo Da Vinci as an inventor, writer and musician as well as current artist, John Bloom, for his use of color and light in creating a storybook setting. I frequently look at current artist’s blogs and Pinterest, too. In the Halloween card shown below, I tried to emulate a storybook feeling with the magical use of light.
What inspires you to create your designs and how do you stay motivated?
Most digital greetings that I work on require research of some kind, whether it is to develop a concept, art style or create movement in the piece. When I start gathering information, I look at books, watch movies or browse the internet. I am inspired by what I see and want to try new things especially when I think something is really cool. This ecard was a true collaborative effort, whereby I created the imaginary art style and then worked with another artist to incorporate realism through animation.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
In a place where I can remain creative and inspired.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
Never, never, never, never, ever give up!
What do you do for fun?
I love to run. Right now I am training with a running group in the Cleveland Metro Parks and I will be running my first half marathon in April. I enjoy watching movies, eating dinner out, relaxing at an outdoor swimming pool and taking my favorite big dog “Skye” for walks.