Meet the artist: Today, we’re getting to know Denise Ackerman a little bit better. Denise is a Photo Designer for the Creative Photo Studio at American Greetings. In addition to being an artist, Denise is a wife and mother, and proud member of the Chardon, OH community.
When did you first realize you are an artist?
I have been fascinated with the arts my entire life. Painting, drawing, photography… I always knew I would be an artist. Everyone around me knew I would be successful with a creative career and encouraged me to do so.
What is your position at American Greetings and what is your background as an artist?
I’m part of the Creative Photo Studio and work as a Photo Designer. I studied graphic design and photography at Bowling Green State University and graduated with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in 1995. Since then, I have worked in many places from a tiny design studio in Portland, Oregon to much larger organizations like the Cleveland Cavaliers NBA basketball team. I was lucky enough to start out as a designer at American Greetings last summer. It was my first full-time position after starting a family six years ago. During those six years I freelanced as a designer and photographer, plus took care of three small kids…not an easy feat!
Could you tell us some more about your work?
I am a Photoshop artist. I do a lot of compositing, combining several photos, adding or deleting backgrounds and painting. I play with different filters, add sparkle and bokeh. I can make the ordinary extraordinary. I also do some photography for the blog, which is really fun.
What inspires you to create your designs and how do you stay motivated?
My kids are a constant source of inspiration. They’re at an age where they’re figuring out what they are good at, what they like to do – that’s so cool to see. It sounds cliché but they see the beauty in everything, and they’re a nice reminder that I need to slow down and appreciate the little things.
I also find inspiration in my community. Earlier this year there was a tragic school shooting at Chardon High School that affected everyone who lives there. The worst of one brought out the best in others. Our little town handled the tragedy with dignity and class right from the very start. And I couldn’t believe how strong the students were under the worst of circumstances. They had to grow-up quickly; no one should have to go through what they experienced, and that is hugely inspirational for me. I attended an open house at the school a few months ago, and as soon as I walked through the doors I saw thousands of cards, letters, drawings and banners. Notes of hope and encouragement literally covered every inch of the school. It was inspiring and it gave me chills. It allowed me to see that something as simple as a card or drawing really has an impact on the well-being of someone, and you can turn tragedy into something beautiful.
Denise took these photos at an open house that Chardon High School held a few months ago. The halls were lined with hand-made cards from students with inspiring and encouraging words.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
I honestly see myself here; this is a great place for a creative person to work. I love my job. A place like this is hard to find.
What advice would you give to an artist just starting out?
My only advice is to do what you love.
What do you do for fun?
I love to hang out with my family. I think we may try camping in a tent this summer, wish me luck!