Interview: Salli Swindell wants to teach you tricks to make Halloween card treats

Salli Swindell sketch work

Interview: Salli Swindell wants to teach you tricks to make Halloween card treats


Q: You’re an award winning greeting card designer who has designed thousands of cards. Clearly you love mail! In a world where technology increasingly rules our lives, what can the simple act of sharing a greeting card make one feel?

A: Nowadays when you receive a REAL card in the mail it’s like a present. It seems even more meaningful because a lot of thought goes into choosing the card and getting it in the mail on time. Just today I found myself shopping the greeting card aisle for a friend I’ve known since I was two years old. I looked at so many cards before settling on one. The art AND the verse needed to reflect the decades long friendship I’ve had with this person. After illustrating greeting cards for so many years, I find it interesting to go into consumer mode! I personally think that sympathy cards are the most important (yet also the most difficult) to send. Sending condolences via email or text doesn’t have the same warmth as a card. My friend (Pivotal Patty as many know her) says she considers it an honor to write a thank you card. Isn’t that a nice way to look at it?

Q: You and your brother Nate Padavick are the founders of They Draw & Cook and They Draw & Travel, the Internet’s largest collection of illustrated recipes and maps from artists around the world. Why do you think it has been so successful?

A: We got a bit lucky because we launched They Draw & Cook right about the time food illustration started trending. Maybe we helped give the trend a little boost. Mostly we think the sites are successful because our mission has been the very same from day one – to showcase the work of both amateur and professional artists all around the world, one illustrated recipe/map at a time. Our sites are like big creative playgrounds with amazing new friends, food and adventures showing up everyday. Food always brings people together. Art, whether you’re the artist or the viewer, helps connect us to ourselves and to each other. We think both of our sites are very welcoming and inspiring.

Q: You are a bit of a self described homebody who uses routines and inspirational mantras as springboards for your creativity. How do “rules” set you free?

A: I am a homebody. I actually travel quite a bit but I have to consciously make myself get out of the house, the city, the state and the country! My favorite trips are the kind where I can settle into a new place for a week or two and set up my routine. I am basically a house cat! Rules do indeed set me free as long as they are MY rules. Hahaha. I like to get into a groove. I give myself interesting perimeters and assignments so I don’t find myself staring at a blank sketchbook page wondering what to draw. The phrase “Paralyzed by Possibilities” rings true to me. Too many options are not always a good thing for me. That’s where my so-called rules set me free because I’ve narrowed down the possibilities.

Q: You build communities. You and Nate have both been tireless advocates for countless other artists. What would you say to someone who might want to join or create or contribute to a community — but doesn’t know how?

A: Very good questions! Finding the right community to join greatly depends on your reason for joining. Online art communities are so wonderful for those of us who mostly work by ourselves in our studio all day, talking only to our cats most of the time. Sketchbook Skool really makes everyone feel embraced, acknowledged, accepted and appreciated. Some communities are about teaching, some are more about sharing and building friendships while others focus on helping you build your portfolio and create content that will sell. If you are interested in creating a community your priority should NOT initially be to make money. That may or may not happen. Find something that is meaningful to you. Unfortunately, I don’t have the secret recipe for what will guarantee the success of a newly created community. If I had the answers then I would write a book about it and make millions of dollars!

Q: What’s next up on your plate?

A: I’m only thinking as far as SketchKon!! Right now we are in the midst of a SUPER fun contest on They Draw & Cook. It’s sponsored by the Southern Peanut Growers so a LOT of peanut butter has been on my plate! Everything calms down a bit around mid-November, just in time to start thinking about the holidays. Nate and I have a few behind-the-scenes things to tackle on both of our sites. Boring stuff. On the fun side, we have the content ready for the next book in our Single Artist Cookbook Series. I will keep you in suspense and not tell you the name of the artist.

Q: We absolutely love this Halloween card video – what would you say to someone who is trying to make a card for the first time?

A: I think it’s best to start by thinking of the person who will be receiving the card. What do they like? Is there something you both like doing? Do you have a shared interest? What kinds of things remind you of them? For my brother Nate’s birthday this year, I created a card for him with drawings of ten things that I know he likes; fig newtons, goats, bicycle rides, hiking uphill, a compass rose etc. It was random yet relevant. And it was fun for me to illustrate.

Q: How do your cats inspire you?

A:My cats mostly find ways to keep me from working! They politely demand that you stop what you’re doing and be present with them. What smart and funny little friends they are to me all day long. Right now my little calico is curled up behind me on my studio chair leaving me about 3 inches to sit on. I think my tailbone has gone numb.


Occupation: Illustrator, Teacher and Entrepreneur

Hometown: Hudson, OH

Salli teaches a two-week workshop, Let’s Make Greeting Cards, at Sketchbook Skool and will be presenting at SketchKon Pasadena 2018. You can sign up for klass here!

Seven billion greeting cards are purchased every year. Annual retail sales of greeting cards are estimated at more than $7.5 billion. Nine out of every ten households buy greeting cards each year. The average household buys thirty individual greeting cards a year.

4 mins

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