‘Indigo and Bloom’
City native inspired by family creates greeting cards
From creating illustrations in kindergarten for her grandmother to making them professionally as an adult, Jennifer Fitchwell, of Lakewood, Ohio, formerly of Williamsport, has a greeting card line through American Greetings at Target, in Pennsdale and across the country.
“I was always fascinated with greeting cards and how they touched people’s lives and make them connect,” Fitchwell said.
Fitchwell has been with American Greetings for 18 years. At American Greetings, there is a gallery where artists can feature their work, all of Fitchwell’s shows have been “well-received,” she said. In May 2017, she had a series titled, “Indigo and Bloom,” on display.
Her artwork was noticed and chosen for a project for Target and she painted new flowers for the blue and white floral-themed wedding cards, she said. When creating cards, artists make the work a year in advance. Her cards were released this summer. Although it is hard to predict upcoming trends, artists look at retail to try to forecast what will be in style the next year.
Greeting cards have writers who come up with the sayings for cards, lettering cards, illustrators and even photography, which is very important, she added. Sometimes, she’ll come up with an illustration and the writer comes up with what it says based on that or vice versa.
This line came out this summer and is particularly special because Fitchwell got to sign the back of the card, and it features a picture of her with a write up, something new and different, she said.
Artistically, she is inspired by Rembrandt, Claude Monet and Norman Rockwell, Fitchwell said. She’s also inspired by family, visiting museums, art stores and shows, nature and painting workshops.
“My artwork is recognized for its looseness and boldness in color and wide brush strokes and I paint from life — florals, bouquets and outside landscapes. I have a lot of feeling and emotion in my work,” she said.
Fitchwell is starting a website, she said. She has sold in local art fairs and has sold out of her Christmas and original paintings.
Growing up, Fitchwell’s family always had supported her dream of becoming an artist and aspired to become a greeting card artist. Early on, her parents instilled that hard work pays off, she said.
“Ever since I was a little girl, I wanted to be an artist. I loved doing artwork,” Fitchwell said.
Her grandmother, Donna Goodspeed, had Fitchwell illustrate Christmas cards to give to co-workers, Fitchwell said. They featured indoor Christmas themes with wreaths and a fireplace, a Christmas tree or snowmen. Her aunt would get paper to do the illustrations on and her mother, Mary Wagner, would fill in the cards.
Fitchwell began making illustrations for Goodspeed when she was in kindergarten to 2nd grade, she said.
Her art teacher, Sally Geer, from the former Bishop Neumann, now Saint John Neumann Regional Academy, encouraged Fitchwell to put together a portfolio of artwork and was accepted to the Art Institute of Pittsburgh, she said. She went for Illustration. After attending the Art Institute, she got a job as a greeting card artist.
Upon seeing her cards in a store for the first time, “it was exciting … I couldn’t believe that something I worked on so hard is going to touch people’s lives all over,” she said.
Now a wife and mother of three, Fitchwell is inspired by family more than ever, she said. “Having children brings out emotions in your artwork and connects you with others.” They help you connect seasonally, such as with babies, weddings or holidays.
In May 2017, when “Indigo and Bloom” was in the gallery, Fitchwell’s daughter was not engaged and she is now getting married this fall, something she found interesting as her wedding line of cards just came out.
When her cards came out, her family was very excited, she said. Coming full-circle, they were especially excited when her boxed Christmas card sets were released. Her family would send them to people. Her mother is still one of her biggest supporters and buys, collects and even frames Fitchwell’s cards.
She shared how important it is to have a people believe in you as a child — whether that be as an art teacher, like Geer, or as parents, Fitchwell said.
For parents that have children that love working with art, she encourages them to have a space designated for their children to create, like a drawing table with crayons, and to frame their artwork to show them it’s important, she said.
When someone frames something, it means it’s valued and what someone created is impor
tant, she said. It shows it is art and encourages kids to keep creating.
“The secret for my personal success, I feel, is to work hard at something you love, learn from people in your field, ask questions and most of all appreciate all that God has given you,” she said. “Work hard each day and create. Don’t get discouraged when you don’t have that perfect piece of art your first, second time. Play and experiment because that’s how you grow into the artist you want to become.”