The last word with…
The Graphic 45 founder gives valuable advice for changing careers and finding inspiration
Meet the owner of Graphic 45, Diane Schultz
How did you choose the name Graphic 45? What does the ‘45’ mean?
I spent the first 20-plus years of my career as an apparel, textile and conceptual designer for both start-up and national companies. My background included stints designing for McCalls, Simplicity, Vogue/Butterick, Mattel Toy Company and a host of other jobs that each, in some way, led me to what I do now. At that time, the domestic apparel market was moving offshore and many in the industry had to close their doors. Although I continued to have job offers, they were on the East and West coast and it would have meant moving my family. With three of my six children still at home, I decided instead, to go back to school. At 45, I got my degree in graphic design and named my design company to celebrate that achievement.
What advice do you have for someone who’s considering a career change or returning to education?
Be passionate about whatever you’re doing – especially if it involves a life change. Many people believe in taking baby steps, but if you’re like me, you jump in with both feet. Going back to school with kids half my age was intimidating at first, but it turned out to be such a rewarding and life-changing experience. After graduating, I did a lot of freelancing. One of my freelance jobs drew me to designing scrapbook paper. It was my first experience in the industry and I was hooked! I believed that by combining my experience in apparel, textile and graphic design, I could create a new company that would offer products unique to the papercrafting industry. My daughter, Aimee agreed to move Salt Lake City, Utah for six months to help launch the company with the understanding that the operations office would eventually run from Portland, Oregon. She is now our Director of Operations.
What is it like to work together with your daughters and son?
Aimee is a no-nonsense kind of woman. With a career background in communication and finance, she balances my creative ‘flights of fancy’. Charee joined the team early on to oversee our social media presence. She’s creative, energetic and really keeps us on track with the trends. As the company grew, we added staff to our Portland office, including my son Jeff, who wears a lot of hats, including production designer. Working with three of my six children is the best part of the dream. We are having the journey of a lifetime learning and growing together.
Graphic 45 has a very distinctive style – how did you decide on and develop this?
Graphic 45 is known for vintage style that captures the vibrant colour, attitude and imaginative design of bygone eras. I’ve always been inspired by anything that is old and tells a story. When I first started designing many years ago, I learned the importance of paying close attention to what’s going on, not only in my industry but others as well. Nature, magazines, movies, fashion, textiles, home décor and even junk yards inspire me. If I can marry past and present – something fabulous is born! For the first few years I was the sole designer. As we’ve increased the size and frequency of our releases, we’ve added designers to meet the demand.
Are you a papercrafter?
I am. There is something magic about making something with your hands! Papercrafting is a creative outlet – an opportunity to express who you are and what you love. Don’t be afraid of it, and don’t think it has to be perfect! Some of the best inspiration and embellishments come from non-traditional sources like junk yards, antique or consignment shops, and yard sales (my personal favourite places to treasure hunt.)
What are your plans for Christmas this year?
I love, love Christmas and hope that all six of my children, their spouses and my seven grandchildren will be spending the holidays with me in Utah. My mother passed down her over-the-top love of Christmas traditions and I have such fun carrying on many of those traditions. In the past, I would decorate five Christmas trees, but have cut down to three. Every room is festive. My garage is stacked high with decoration boxes – the process takes me at least two weeks but is a labour of love. Once the family arrives, the baking, wrapping, laughter and merry chaos begins!
If you had a time machine and could travel back to one era, which would you choose?
I’d travel back to the ‘roaring twenties’! With singular focus on individualism and disdain for the commonplace, a flamboyant style was born in the 1920s and ’30s that captured the imagination of the world and became all the rage. In a day and age when most people are communicating digitally, the tactile pleasure of ink on paper puts us in touch with a simpler time and place, perhaps reminding us that good design is unchanging.
“Going back to school with kids half my age was intimidating at first”
Diane’s favourite Graphic 45 project Diane loves going all-out with Christmas decorating