Hello to all of you! My name is Erin Seaward-Hiatt, and as I write this I am seated in my home office beside my pet shih tzu, Archie. You can learn a lot from a person by looking at her workspace, so here is a brief list of the things that are currently on or around my desk:
- An artist’s contract for a publisher in Minneapolis
- A 1950s Russian postage stamp commemorating Sputnik
- A giant clothespin grasping a Canadian Thanksgiving card
- A few Instax snapshots of cats
- Several Kate Spade pocket journals
- A Soviet-era cinnamon tin with pennies in it
- The Devil in the White City
- A Toulouse-Lautrec–style painting of someone’s butt
- A book about magazine writing
I feel like all of this together paints a reasonably faithful portrait of who I am, which is a freelance graphic designer (and sometimes writer) with too many pets and at least a passing recognition of Canadian holidays. The journals are earmarked as Christmas gifts for friends I haven’t seen since before the late-December publishing-world monsoon hit, and the tin with pennies is just something I shake at the new husky when she’s being too barky. I’m from Chicagoland (with Newfie roots on my dad’s side) but currently live in good, old Provo, Utah, with my screenwriter husband, Neil, (who wrote this Studio C sketch about Santa’s elves forming a union).
For the past year (as of next week) I have been working solo in my home office designing books, books, the occasional flyer, and then more books. The goal was to work unfettered, and leaving my former paper craft design job—of close to seven years—was a necessary first step in both getting where I wanted to be as a book designer and, of course, digging deeper into graduate school. I’m pursuing a master’s degree in English and creative writing, and I occasionally write articles, like this one, about how feminist criticism has a knack for crashing right into religion. I’ve been published sparsely, but my goal is to grow the now-malnourished writing side of my little creative studio. This course will help with that and has the added perk of counting toward the graduate certificate in women and gender studies at Utah State, a credential that won’t scare off any potential feminist clients. I consider myself a feminist on a variety of levels and believe in questioning hegemony, whether we’re talking about a deep, political level or just in everyday subtleties. This course will be an interesting look at what we teach girls and how that information affects them as they grow into their roles as either perpetuators or squashers of negative tropes.
My interests are kind of all over the board, but some of my favorite experiences have been rescuing and caring for our new husky, flipping open the pages of a legit book to read something that I wrote, discovering Anne Brontë and Wax Fang, and watching this scene from Top Secret on a loop.
Oh, and you’re probably wondering whose butt is in that painting. No idea. But it’s a replication of an earlier White Elephant butt painting that my co-workers and I all fought for the Christmas before I resigned. I won but left it in the designers’ mock-up room as a mark of my existence and a commemoration of my tenure as their plucky leader in the unrelenting tempest that is paper crafting. The artist painted me a new one as a going-away present.