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The Graphic Design Studio

The friendly graphic design studio of DesignWise Art is tucked away in Amy & Andy Collen’s Washington County home office where the overhead is nice and low. When the weather outside is chilly, there’s a cozy fire burning in the wood stove. When sunny, there’s a big back yard and quiet neighborhood for brainstorming walk-abouts.

The studio is a big, meandering downstairs office with art everywhere, plenty of books and computer work stations, plus a conference room for meeting with clients and coffee refills.

DesignWise Art (a dba of HTA) shares the studio with Happy Trails Animation which is managed by producer/director Andy Collen (Amy’s awesome husband). This is an excellent arrangement because HTAs team of freelance artists, who draw motion comics, artistic infographics and animated sequences for HTA also freelance for DWA when illustrations and character design is called for. Recently HTA artist Danny Rico drew Amy an original “flying pig” graphic for use in some of her blog articles. 

The Early Days

Prior to freelancing as DesignWise Art in 1991, Amy Collen worked as lead designer with mentors “in the trenches” at printing companies where she gained experience in producing graphic design projects from start to finish.

Amy started freelancing as DWA so she could offer better customer service, including faster turn-arounds, more suppliers and a broader spectrum of graphic services. 

After 25 years the original mission of DWA still holds true today: to listen to small business owners and provide honest, personal customer service while helping companies expand the reach of their brand. The studio assists clients by phone, in the studio, at their business locations or at coffee shops — but not if they sell chocolate glazed donuts. Gotta draw the line somewhere! 

About the Owner, Amy Collen

amy collen owner of designwise art graphic design studio

Owner Amy Collen, launched her freelance graphic design business in 1991. She has adapted to changes in the industry, beginning with advancements in print design to the expanded techy times of WordPress website design, SEO and social page branding. Each day she art directs and manages projects, helping Portland area locals and out-of-state business owners with their graphic design services.

Amy hails from the suburbs of Portland, but is really a country girl Oregonian from the long-gone township of Niagara. She is happily married to Andy, and the proud Auntie of 23 nieces and nephews. She is an experienced designer with over 25 years in the worlds of visual communication, including print, signage, textiles and digital marketing with WorddPress, SEO, and social page design.

The graphic artist in Amy is crazy about type design, kerning and font styles. She is fascinated by color, patterns in nature and all manner of design.

amy collen and andy collen telluride film festival passes 1996For cultural fun, Amy reads a lot, is writing a modern romance novel and goes to the annual events of San Diego Comic Con and Telluride Film Festival. She is a member of ASIFA NW (Animation Society of Int’l Film Association) and Mt Hood Area Chamber of Commerce.

CREATIVE EDUCATION

AS: Chemeketa Community College in Visual Communications
BFA: Pacific Northwest College of Art
THESIS: 2D Animation of “Bob’s Choice”
VISITING ARTIST: Teaching animation via the NWFC 

Early Days

She was raised by older parents who emphasized honesty, hard-work and mindfulness which is why Amy’s has been known to quip that she is a “child of  the Great Depression.”

As the youngest of seven, Amy’s upbringing was similar to The Waltons TV show but noisier, with loads of family around, a big garden and tons of chores. Home was a hundred year old farm house on 26 acres of wilderness near the Santiam River in Niagara, Oregon. Half of the house was rebuilt by Amy’s Dad after half burned down (prompting him to join the Gates Volunteer Fire Department and become Chief). He built numerous quality homes and structures in the Willamette Valley. Amy’s Mom worked dawn to dusk; first at Detroit Ranger Station, then at home for chores and to run the dinner table battlefield (with required eating of no fewer than 4 vegetables). An avid nature lover, she taught Amy the names of many northwest trees and plants. 

During summers the whole family hiked, camped, cut wood, built forts and dams, and played music and cards on a regular basis. Dad kept his sanity by fishing trout and steelhead from the Santiam River [Amy’s first animated film “Bob’s Choice” was named for her Dad who taught her to fish and steer clear of poison oak].

santiam high school bathroom mural tree brusasco on left amy blumenstein on rightAmy’s first adventure as an artistic entrepreneur began in high school with the painting of hall murals. Her Dad sponsored the paint supplies and Amy pitched her sketches to the school principal, and got the “OK” to produce the murals as “extra credit” with a team of qualified girlfriends. The hall paintings also included a wall-to-stall creation in the girl’s bathroom [artists pictured: (LT) Tree (Brusasco) Frederickson and (RT) Amy (Blumenstein) Collen in the girl’s bathroom].