unique papercrafting graphic 45

November 19, 2011

Get to Know Diane Schultz, Owner and Designer of Graphic 45!

Hello G45ers!

Diane Schultz was kind enough to give some of her time to give you, her faithful followers, an intimate profile of her life as owner/designer of Graphic 45. She told us how the company came about, how it is to work with her two beautiful daughters, honest answers about being busy and trying to stay grounded, and how to manage her annual Christmas three-tree-to-five-tree decorating!

Diane Schultz, Graphic 45 Owner/Designer Extraordinnaire!


Diane, first tell us a little about your story. How did you get the name Graphic 45? 

I'm passionate about being creative and eager to make it possible for others to find their creative voice. My background includes stints as a designer for, McCalls, Simplicity, Vogue/ Butterick, Mattel Toy Company and a host of other jobs that each, in some way, led me to what I do now. At 45 I went back to school and got my degree in graphic design— I named my company to celebrate that achievement.

What inspired you to go back to school at age 45?

I was working in the apparel market at the time. The apparel market was moving offshore and about 60% of the domestic industry had to close their doors. My six children were half grown (three in college, three still at home). I had three job offers but knew I couldn’t move my kids, so I decided to go back to school. I initially had a double major in interior design and graphic design, trying to decide which would provide the most opportunity. After a year, I realized it was graphic design. I was in school with kids that were the age of my college-aged children. It was quite intimidating at first.


One of Diane's designs when she worked for McCalls.

But, you take what’s in front of you and you do the best that you can with it. Whenever you move out of your comfort zone it’s intimidating and you think “Can I do this?” But I feel fortunate that most of my life I have seen the glass half full. Going back to school was an incredible experience. When I graduated, I did a lot of different things including freelancing and working for a book publisher. One of my freelance jobs drew me to designing scrapbook paper which was very similar to textile and apparel design.

Starting off, I was overwhelmed. But at the time, Aimee, my daughter, worked in an industry that was going away much like apparel, and she came to Utah for 6 months to help me launch the company with the understanding that the operations office would eventually run from Portland, OR. She is now our Director of Operations. And so it began!

 So, your daughter Aimee helped you in the first days of Graphic 45, what incredible qualities does she bring to your company?

Aimee is an extraordinary multi-talented woman. Grounded, with a career background in communication and finance, she balances my creative "flights of fancy". She is also one of the hardest-working, dedicated people I know. Literally, when we’re travelling, she keeps us on schedule. She keeps us grounded.

Now your other daughter, Charee, works for you as well. How did that come about?

Aimee opened our Portland office essentially by herself. Knowing we needed an operation team, Charee joined us after about 4 months. Our Portland office has grown considerably since that time. Charee is very, very creative, energetic, and really keeps us on track with the trends. People love her. Her people skills are incredible. I am truly amazed by, and grateful for both my daughters! Working Aimee and Charee (two of my six children) is the best part of the dream. We are having the journey of a lifetime learning and growing together.

What fun! What is your personal favorite part of the design process?

Like working with apparel, the design process always starts as a blank canvas. At first it’s intimidating, but eventually takes on a life of its own. With the help of an extraordinary design staff, it grows and grows to become a collection. I can’t say enough about my assistant designers and our staff, they are truly dedicated, remarkable people who are passionate about G45! Together, we get through the design process. When preparing for CHA, we cover all sorts of unique things - clocks, lamps, birdhouses, chairs. Besides the project designers that work directly with me, we have a renowned worldwide design team you see a lot on our blog. They help with particular projects and challenges. My favorite part of the process is brainstorming to create an over-the-top presentation for our CHA shows. It’s hard work - loading and unloading crates, setting up for hours. We’re always the first one to start and the last ones get done. But once we finish, and the show begins, we love it. So many fans and friends we adore come by - and that’s the part we love!

How do you get inspired for your new collections? 

Typically, a collection idea will come when we’re travelling or just having an everyday experience. Sometimes it’s playing with my grandkids, or being out in nature, or wandering in a store. I spend lots of time researching - weeks of time - before the actual designing begins. I have boxes and boxes of old magazines, books, and newspapers. I hunt the antique and consignment stores looking for things that tell a story that can help build a collection. It was the same as when I was designing clothing. It all comes from life experience, wherever you are at that moment.

Your collections really do stand out in a crowd. How does travelling specifically inspire these timeless collections?

Aimee, Charee, and I just got back from Europe doing a workshop in a picturesque castle. We spent four days in Paris before travelling to the Netherlands. The girls and I love the same things. Rather than relaxing or shopping, we spend most of our times in museums and immersing ourselves in the local history. This common passion makes travelling really fun for us and the historical context is inspiration for design.

For example, we’re just now releasing our new collection Tropical Travelogue. Our travels to Hawaii, Singapore, and Australia - three very, very different island cultures - inspired this collection. We took a lot of bits and pieces from those cultures and incorporated them into the design of this particular collection.

There is such a timeless quality to your creations - like watching a 1920s film in 2011 Technicolor. What made you fall in love with a vintage feel? Has this always been a love for you? 

I am so passionate about and touched by anything that is old. I always have been from the time I was a little girl. My mother’s mother died when she was three, she inherited and passed onto her daughters several beautiful heirlooms that had been her mother’s. I have some of her handmade blouses and hats. They’re very precious to me. My father’s mother gave me hand-embroidered baby clothes she had made for my father. She travelled a lot, and once brought me back beautiful things from China. Even as a child, I treasured those things because I knew they were old and told a story that connected me to people from my past. They gave me a sense of belonging. 

What is the magic of crafting? How does it make you feel to create something other people craft with?

I really loved working with apparel and seeing people wear things I created. But it cannot begin to compare to the thrill that comes from creating something that other people create with. It is a big part of the joy that comes when I see what the design team has created, and what our customers are making. It literally brings tears to my eyes to see something they have created... something that is SO MUCH MORE than I could have ever conceived - over the top of where I could take it. 

I’m delighted by the projects my grandchildren create with our paper. I have an 8-year old granddaughter and an 8-year old grandson, two five-year old grandsons, and a new baby grandson. Yay! I just found out I have a granddaughter on the way! My granchildren are always making things for “Grammy” with our paper collections. I have this darling little box that my grandson made for me when I went to Hawaii. He covered a pencil box and wrote “Hawaii” and “Surfboard Hawaii” on it (it can’t be opened, but oh, well...). My home is filled with treasures made by my grandchildren, children, and design team. These things are beyond precious to me.


The grandkids with Granny! What a beautiful bunch!

We often hear heart-wrenching stories from ladies at our classes. Recently in a workshop, one of the ladies in our class was saying that her sister has cancer and she was making the project to give her sister at Christmas, knowing it may be their last Christmas together.

In Australia, there was this sweet women who was shy, but wanted to take a picture with us. This friend of hers brought her over to us, and she started weeping and couldn’t stop. She was so overwhelmed. I thought my heart was going to break. We found out that her husband had passed away 6 months before, and she had immersed herself in crafting. She loved Graphic 45 paper and it had become a lifeline for her. It could have been anyone’s paper, but she needed something to help her through this traumatic time of her life. Creating is an opportunity to get through these hard times, and when they use something we’ve created, we are honored to connect with that.

You hear these stories, and it connects you to the world as a whole and you can feel like you’re making a contribution that’s worthwhile and makes people happy. When we’re creating, we’re happy.

I’m sure the G45ers would love to know, how are you getting ready for this holiday season?

All six of my children and grandchildren and daughters-in-law should be here and I have no choice but to go all out! My mother was an over-the-top Christmas person and all of her children, including me, carry on this Christmas tradition. I used to do five Christmas trees, but have cut down to three. Every room is decorated. I have decoration boxes stacked high in my garage and I keep thinking, “In a couple of weeks, I need to haul them out and start decorating.” (It takes me two weeks to decorate for Christmas.) With CHA falling at the end of January, I don’t have a chance to take them down until the end of February. They’re up for a long time, and get dusty before they come down.

A few years ago I only put up one Christmas tree, and Aimee and Charee complained, “It doesn’t even feel like Christmas! You didn’t put it all up!” Every year I think I’ll cut down, but I’m afraid of the wrath of the family. They’ll keep asking, “What happened to Frosty the Snowman?” So I keep cramming it in there.

And just for fun, If you had to watch a movie for the rest of time, what movie would it be?

I love music and I LOVE movies. So this is a hard question, but I think the answer must be To Kill a Mockingbird. It’s this old, tremendous story about character, meaning, and substance.

Finally, what makes you stay grounded day after day running such a fantastic company?

I just focus on what has to be done each day. I’ve done a lot of reading about being present in the now. I’m not really good at that, but I’m trying to be better. Trying to appreciate the part of the journey I’m experiencing right now, in this moment. Not always looking at all the deadlines that seem to drive my life. I’m trying to just appreciate small, daily moments. I’m looking at a pile of old magazines on the floor as I’m talking to you that I am in the process of going through and marking. And I’ve got all these bits and pieces and piles of wonderful images. I haven’t appreciated how pretty those piles are until I sit here for a moment and just look at them. Not getting overwhelmed and thinking “Oh I need to get through those piles.” Just simply appreciating the beauty of the pile. I am doing better at smelling the roses!

Wow. What great words on smelling the roses when life gets crazy! Thank you so much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to us, your loyal fans!

I am so grateful to be in this industry. This is such a team effort, I am so dependent on my daughters and my designers. We have so many great people on our staff. I have the best personal assistant. It’s not just me! I have all these wonderful people who without, I couldn’t function. Graphic 45 has been such a fabulous opportunity, my life is so full. I feel overwhelmed with gratitude for the people who support us, follow us, and share with us. It’s like a big extended family that make my life worthwhile. Thank you so much!

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Happy Papercrafting!

Team Graphic 45


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I just adore your papers!!

How do you come up with such classic designs?????

I loved reading about you. I love your products...

Wonderful interview! I really enjoyed learning more about you. Thanks for giving us a glimpse into your life and your creative process. :-)

Thank you so much for sharing this story. I have always wondered about how people go about designing a line of scrapbook paper. Such a wonderful family story too!

Not only do our papers inspire me-but so do you.You're an amazing individual.I am not sure just any paper could have helped the wonderful ladies you met.Working with your papers requires deep thought and concentration.They make you think outside your comfort zone and reach for new heights in creativity. In circumstances like those they really are a godsend.I know-and I thank you for them.

I enjoyed very much Diane's story. It's very inspiring. It's great to know how things started. She has a wonderful family. Thanks for sharing,

Just so love all of the papers!!!

Your story is very inspiring to me. I admire your journey and I wish you a superb Christmas with your family. Thank you for your wonderful papers!

I cannot believe you remember me.
The fact that you do shows how genuine & caring you all are.
Going to Brisbane was a massive step for me but nothing would have stopped me from meeting you, Aimee & Charee.
I look at my "special" Le Cirque Album"
nearly every day, it still overwhelms me.

Contente de te connaitre, bises

It's so nice to get to know this diva of design!! I tell everyone who will listen about your success story. They think we must be neighbors!! I'm just happy you do what you do and we get to design with your beautiful papers!! Thanks for all your hard work and I wish you much MORE success with your business and family!!! Happy Thanksgiving!!

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