There is more than one way to make a difference in the world. In the next few months, we will be highlighting artists who are using their gifts of knitting, lettering, painting and photography to raise money and awareness for Preemptive Love Coalition. Their creative investment is inspiring us to look past our sometimes thin wallets to how our own talents can feed, love and empower whole families. Needless to say, we are more than excited to introduce you to these amazing people!
Laura Balfour of Fleecher Designs is a graphic designer and hand lettering artist in the Atlanta, Georgia area.
Laura, how did you first hear about PLC?
I heard Jeremy Courtney speak at Plywood People in Atlanta, GA, in August 2014.
What part of our organization appealed to you?
Jeremy’s presentation on the heart surgeries originally pulled me in, however, his genuine tears shed on stage regarding the issue at hand won me over. I knew this was a true love-led organization that I fully supported.
Although I knew of the heart surgeries through PLC, I didn’t know of the women empowerment programs until a friend shared Ann Voskamp’s article a few months ago… I couldn’t un-read her words. My mind was in go-mode.
Why did that aspect appeal to you?
As a woman in business, I have a heart for gender equality (don’t we all?), especially in the workplace. I think it’s a very current issue that’s been given wide attention here in the States. Hearing of the issue at large, especially in the Middle East regarding women, really opened my eyes to how blessed we are to be women here in the US. I fully believe from whom much is given, much is expected. So since I have been given much here in America, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to support these women in the Middle East.
How did you decide to use part of your proceeds to benefit PLC?
I knew I personally couldn’t donate a substantial monetary donation with my new business alone. However, I knew that my clients could (a) buy postcards to generate money to give and (b) take the message of PLC further than I could by myself! Therefore, I designed $5 postcards and sold them through my Etsy shop, donating $4 of each sale to PLC.
Was the art you created directly linked to some part of our work? The region?
Yes! I chose to use bold, 'PLC red' brush lettering on the front of the postcard showcasing the PLC hashtag “#loveanyway.” On the reverse side of the postcard, I directed the recipients to the PLC website, hoping the simple design would motivate each person to learn more about the many PLC initiatives listed on the website. Basically, I created a simple design supported by minimal, direct calls to action.
What do you envision your creative contribution doing?
I hope to help further spread the word of how we can defy ISIS by empowering Iraqi women with small business grants…. My dream is that these postcards flood the USPS so much that even the mailmen and women are sent to the PLC website. How cool would that be??
Have you always been interested in the MidEast region?
Not really. My husband has deployed twice with the US military, so since knowing him, my interest in the region has spiked.
Did anything surprise you as you learned about the individuals we are helping?
WE CAN HELP WOMEN WHICH ALSO DEFIES ISIS. What an incredible opportunity! The women who need our help are smart. They are driven. They are not submissive to the point of destruction… despite any stereotype we could believe about their culture.
Does “Love first; ask questions later” resonate with you? Why?
Yes, and it directly challenges my human nature. I question EVERYTHING first. I expect people to love me first and ask questions later, but on the same hand, I tend to as questions first and love others second. Loving first? That’s crazy. And beautiful.
What other projects do you have in mind?
I believe words can empower, inspire, and encourage. My hand-lettering talent allows me the opportunity to give words a platform. I’d love to find other words and phrases to generate momentum behind PLC movements.
How did you get started in your artistic field?
Honestly, I doodled words and weird geometric shapes all over my school notes growing up. Also, I had a knack for knowing how to organize, and as a child, I loved drawing up house plans. For fun. (?!) When I got to college, I had no idea what I wanted to do, but since people kept encouraging me to look into graphic design, I did. Four years later, here I am as a freelance designer and self-proclaimed hand-letter student.
What is the creative process like for you?
My hand-lettering process involves starting with a pencil and arranging words in various ways over a stack of computer paper. When I hit a good “arrangement,” I ink up my design, and begin tracing the design over and over on yes, even more paper. Toward the end of the process, I refine letters and use marker paper to finalize the design. One note: I can’t allow myself to browse social media or the web during this process because my designs begin imitating the hand-lettering I see. I try to make my design process as analog as possible. Trust me, better designs develop that way!
Is this a primary job for you or a hobby?
Graphic design is my primary job, and I view hand-lettering as a necessary branch of that job. (Basically, somehow I made my hobby a job. Pretty fun.)
Tell me something unique about you.
I’ve been to Walt Disney World more times than years I’ve been alive. It’s sort of our family retreat.
Artists like Laura are bringing hope to the women of Iraq one postcard at a time. What can you do? Baking, baby-sitting, lemonade stands…these can all be avenues of love. Tell us about how you are using your unique gifts to support peace around the world. We would love to hear from you!