Profs Summer Doll-Myers and Vicki Meloney invite recent grads back to show their portfolios to portfolio class. Cheryl Geiger Sheeler, BFA ’12, visited this week. Cheryl was a non-trad student, who returned to study illustration after raising her family. Her inspiring story of being an older grad was featured in Berks County Living.
Cheryl’s portfolio is a hot red leather horizontal book with a custom-embossed signature on the cover. Cheryl’s portfolio was crafted by Brewer Cantelmo of New York City. Custom portfolios can cost hundreds of dollars plus the cost of color printing for interior pages. Cheryl was good enough to dig out her receipt for the portfolio pictured above. I get sticker shock looking at it. When I was starting out in illustration my portfolio cost less than the $47.50 she spent on the handle.
Cheryl told the class that she showed this portfolio just once, at the Spring KU event where grads share work with prospective employers. “It is just a fact of life, at my age, a design studio is not going to hire me,” she said with a shrug.
Ageism is not certainly unique to the field of Communication Design, and Cheryl remains upbeat. She added that she has found a considerable amount of interesting freelance work by networking with KU classmates.
“Keep reminding your students to stay connected to people they meet at KU,” she says, “you never know where it may lead. I only met Dan Peiffer my last semester in greeting card class, but the connection turned out to be great.” Dan is now Lead Designer at Demme Learning, Lititz, PA, a growing publisher specializing in educational materials for home schoolers. Another KU classmate, Justin Kramer is Design Manager there. Over that past 2 years Cheryl has done about 9 months freelance work for Demme.
The work for Demme all began with an urgent Facebook plea by Dan for illustrators. Cheryl said she replied the instant she saw his note. She has since done a total of 242 illustrations for Demme. Turns out Facebook and her website have proved more useful for Cheryl than that red leather portfolio.
We’ll close with a few of her favorite illustrations from her web page. The local currency, above, is based on the gingerbread architecture of Cape May, NJ. The images below are details from her visual essay about a pair of fainting goats given as a wedding present to her daughter, country singer, Haley Sheeler. Below that are some fantasy barnyard characters that might someday appear in a children’s book.