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ATPM 16.09
September 2010






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by Christopher Turner,

Heather Sitarzewski, Graphic Designer

Heather Sitarzewski is a graphic designer by day and all around artsy/creative the rest of her waking hours. She loves using found, recycled, and repurposed materials in projects and is always looking for ways to take the mundane and transform it into pretty and purposeful. She lives in Thornton, CO with her husband and son.

Heather was kind enough to sit down with Christopher Turner for a chat.

ATPM: When did you begin using the Mac?

Heather Sitarzewski: Around 1990 or 1991.

ATPM: You’re a graphic designer by profession. Did you receive any formal training, or are you self-taught?

HS: I received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Old Dominion. However, my computer knowledge and usage was completely self-taught. I had a very traditional design professor who viewed the computer as any other tool. He showed us the basics (turning it on and starting an application), but figuring out to use the applications and how to use it to create designs was up to me.

ATPM: What are your current computing tools?

HS: I have a desktop Mac Pro (Quad Core, 2.8 GHz, 12 GB RAM, etc.). I use Adobe’s Creative Suite 4 (including Photoshop, Illustrator, and InDesign).

We recently purchased an iPad, and I’m having a great time exploring all the different apps available and discovering new ways to use it. The SketchBook Pro app is amazing and so fun to play with. It’s also handy to have as a photo gallery to showcase additional work available while I’m out and about.

And I have an iPhone that I use for correspondence, checking e-mails, taking pictures of new ideas I come across, and the impromptu look up on the Web or note taking.


Cake made for Heather’s son’s sixth birthday.

ATPM: Have you designed anything professionally that our readers might recognize?

HS: Texas readers may see some of my work at local grocery stores like the Tom Thumb food chains (look for Dr. Pepper floor displays and giveaways). I’ve also designed several food packagings like Magic Milk Mix, Golden Bowl products, and a few wine labels. If you’ve ever been in a Walmart or Costco during demo (sampling) events you may have seen my signage and taken home one of the brochures I created.

I’ve done brochures and other collateral for Qwest, and some displays at the Texas State Fair. And back in the day, if you used time tracking software like Timeslips, TimeSheet, or Carpe Diem, I created the packaging, literature, and program graphics.

ATPM: Anyone who’s read your blog knows you’re a “crafty” gal. Have you always been a hands-on arts-and-crafts creator?

HS: Yes! I can’t remember a time in my life that I wasn’t creating something. I spent hour upon hour in my room as a child coloring, illustrating books, making doll clothes, doll furniture out of cardboard boxes and other found objects (i.e., trash), and any other pretty thing that struck my fancy. I even added a craft store I called, “Gaines Gift Shoppe” (Gaines was the name of the street I lived on) to my lemonade stand when I was about ten. I made small trinkets.

It’s been much the same ever since. I’ve experimented with a wide variety of mediums, including stained glass, sculpture, printing, found object art, photography, handmade gifts, sewing, jewelry making and accessories, and home decor. I love staying on top of current trends and am still a sucker for sparkly, pretty things that strike my fancy.

ATPM: How do you use your Mac in your crafts creation?

HS: I do a lot of my research via the Internet for ideas, color palettes, textures, collages, and other sources of inspiration. I do most of my graphic design work, which includes layout, printing, scanning, drawing with Adobe Illustrator, retouching photos in Photoshop, and a host of other techniques.

I also use Blogger for my blog hosting and use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media vehicles for networking and staying up-to-date on current trends.

ATPM: You’ve done three covers for ATPM (for which we are grateful). We traditionally don’t do theme issues and give our artists free reign (within the scope of Mac-related and family-friendly) on their cover art. What inspired each of these?


This one is easy. The Disney/Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland came out in March, and I was (am) completely obsessed with the movie. The Caterpillar was on my mind and made me think of a worm in an apple. Then I kind of did a mashup of the caterpillar with a Cheshire grin and his teeth made me think of a bite out of the Apple (logo) so it just all fit.

It was “springish,” and I was a little wrapped up in simple tree images, though I don’t recall exactly why now. It just made me think of a grove of apple trees and the sunrise behind one lone apple on the ground making it glow.

If memory serves me correctly, Christopher Reeve had recently passed away. It was a tribute to “old classics.”

ATPM: For those who don’t know you, you’re a real Disney freak, and it’s come across in some of your creations. How did this obsession begin?

HS: I have always enjoyed Disney art and movies, but in 1991, when I was in college working in a computer lab (and totally loving using the computer in art), Beauty and the Beast was released in November. It was one of my favorite stories as a little girl so I was excited for the Disney version. The ballroom scene was completely computer generated. It was the first time anything like that had been done, and I absolutely fell in love with it.

Not only was it amazing technology for the time, but the possibilities it opened up seemed to be endless. I became instantly obsessed with all things relating to the movie and began collecting Beauty and the Beast memorabilia. I was so dedicated to it that in 1997, at a Disney Store for the second or third time in a week, an employee (or Cast Member, as they’re called) recognized me and said, “You should get a job here. You’d get a discount on all the merchandise.” So I did, loved it, and worked for the Disney Store for eight years!

Now I spend as much time as possible visiting Disneyland and Disney World. I’ve even made it to Disneyland Paris. Tokyo DisneySea and the cruises are next! The parks fuel me in a way I can’t explain. Being there is truly magical, and I love the art and innovation that make those places run!

ATPM: What other creative sources inspire you?

HS: Wow…what doesn’t inspire me? Children’s books, hardware stores, thrift stores, craft stores, craft fairs, farmers’ markets, Halloween, music, things in nature, my son, talking with friends, dreams I have…there’s so much in the world, it’s hard to make a list. I am constantly amazed at where inspiration comes from. I’m very open and love to look at things in ways they perhaps aren’t usually seen. I constantly ask “what could this be” and look past what it is.

ATPM: It’s no secret that creative types are drawn to the Mac. As a designer, if you were turned loose on the Mac interface, what’s the number one thing you’d tackle?

HS: You know, one of the best things about using and working on a Mac is it allows me to not think about the interface. I’ve worked on Macs since about System 6 or 7, and with each upgrade, new machine, new program, I’ve only needed to take a few moments to adjust to any new features before I’m back into my work.

It’s more about what I can create with it, and not so much about how it looks. I love that the usability and interface is intuitive and fits how I think. It leaves me with the creative energy to do my work and not worry about what’s not working. It just works and I love it!

ATPM: Heather, thanks so much for allowing our readers to get to know you better.

HS: Thanks again for inviting me to do this! This was fun!

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