By: Stephanie Shomperlen, our kickass intern
Exactly 1 year ago, I decided to go back to school. I traded in my cowboy boots, leather chaps and callused hands for a MacbookPro, an external hard drive, and a heavy, oversized, book-filled backpack.
Hi, my name is Stephanie Shomperlen. I am a 32-year-old Arizona girl that picked up her life 6 years ago and moved to Montana to pursue a romantic fantasy of being a cowgirl in the Big Sky country. Horses, cows, and leather are what made my heart sing. Waking up early just to saddle up and ride out as the sun was cresting the ridge brought me inspiration and a deep connection to my soul. I was living the dream. My dream.
A few years ago, I was riding a young horse and got in a wreck. I got bucked off and launched like an eggo waffle flying out of a hot toaster. My head made contact with the corral fence as did my spine. After experiencing yet another horse-related head injury and pinching a few nerves in my back, I began to fear what I loved. I began to withdraw from my own horses and had a deep knowing that I needed a change in my lifestyle. If I wanted to take care of my head and love my brain, something need to shift. It took me two years, a lot of digging deep within, forgiving, and letting go, but I finally took the leap, and the net appeared.
For some reason, I was always proud of the fact that I didn't really know how to use a computer. Sure, I could shoot an email, write a word document and download a song from iTunes, but that was it. I didn't like technology, and technology didn't like me. I have always been told that I have an old soul. I like things simple. I like pen and paper, and I like reading and holding tangible books. The internet was scary, and social media was overwhelming. I didn't want to send my things to the cloud--I still don’t really understand what the damn cloud is or where it keeps my stuff. Times are changing and slowly-but-steadily, so am I. I now try to go with the flow instead of doggy paddling against the current. I am learning to be open to everything and attached to nothing. It’s funny how life works with you and for you when you ride the waves. Opportunities appear when you are in a place of acceptance instead of resistance.
I have loved photography ever since I was a little girl. My mom was an amateur photographer, and I was her assistant and model. I think it is awesome that I have so many photographs of my life. I remember spending quality time in her makeshift laundry room darkroom in my childhood home. The amazing things that can happen when you slide that blank piece of photo paper into the chemical mixture and your image appears. It is like straight-up magic. Fast forward 20-something years and I still love that same magic of creating and capturing moments. In the last year, I have finally converted from film to digital and I am learning to love it just the same. My passion and curiosity for photography has led me to Graphic Design. In my pursuit to change my career from bronc-busting buckaroo cowgirl to amazingly creative badass photographer, I found the Graphic Design program at FVCC. I didn't know much about Graphic Design, but knew it complimented photography like peanut butter compliments jelly. Since I don't half ass anything and I am a chronic over achieving goddess, I knew I needed an education and skill set that would set me apart from other photographers in the valley. So, hello technology, you can call me Steph. I am sorry I had such a closed mind and judged you pretty harshly before really getting to know you. We are going to be the best of friends.
FVCC was my net. As I leaped into the unknown world of Graphic Design, I was caught by the loving arms of Flathead Valley Community College. Little did I know that I was going to love love love Graphic Design. The teachers are so knowledgeable, encouraging and supportive. I have spent the last year illustrating characters, greeting cards, wrapping paper, making logos, designing posters and product packaging. I made an 8-page magazine, restaurant menu, branding package, several kick ass videos and have been able to incorporate my photography into my work. I have grown more in the last year than I could have ever imagined. I have developed new skills and honed in on some old ones. This laptop-fearing lady has now become a lover of Mac. I rarely ever go anywhere these days without my camera, computer and flashdrives in hand.
This Fall 2016 semester is going to be the most exciting of all. I am so fortunate to be doing my Graphic Design internship at Wheelie Creative. Not only have I had the pleasure of being a student of Lisa’s, but now I have the opportunity to learn and work alongside her and her amazing team at Wheelie Creative in Whitefish for the entire semester. Wheelie Creative is a design agency that excels in developing brands and producing high-quality creative for businesses in the outdoor industry. The atmosphere here is energetic, fun, and very professional. Plus the coffee is always on, and you can bring your dog to work! Within the first few days of my internship, I realized I would be learning a LOT and designing great things for non-profits in the valley, which Wheelie donates through this internship program. I immediately had a feeling that my favorite days of the week were going to be the days I am Intern McIntern at Wheelie, and so far that has rung true. During my internship over the next 4 months, I am looking forward to learning more about effectively communicating with clients and how to establish a productive workflow. Managing my design time and finding daily inspiration are super important too. Their designer, Amanda, is a pro at all of these and how lucky am I that she is my mentor! Everyone at wheelie works together like a well-oiled machine and their team work gets the job done in the best possible way.
It is so cool being a part of Wheelie Creative. #soblessed
What a difference a year can make in a person's life. Sometimes you need to check yourself before you wreck yourself. Commitment, good attitude, dedication and hard work produce positive results. I am so grateful for the people and opportunities in my life, and I am so excited for what is yet to come. I will be blogging about my rad journey to badassery that has really just begun.
Here's to great design and not getting bucked off the computer!
Wheelie Deep Thoughts
This is where we showcase fun stuff-- new work, case studies, weekly updates, job openings, and general awesomeness from members of the Wheelie Crew.
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Glacier Park Conservancy
Spencer Trail Signs
Glacier Park Inc.
Whitefish Trail Signs
The North Fork
The Montana Scene
Logos We've Made