Heather Ozee is the winner of our 2019 t-shirt design contest. You’ll see her t-shirt worn by dozens of volunteers at our Sunday in the Park event on September 29. The tee will also be available for purchase at Oakland’s Museum Shop. We asked Heather to tell us a little more about her inspiration and design process:
When did you first come to know Oakland Cemetery? I peeked at the beautiful statuary over the wall sitting in traffic twice a day for YEARS driving to my job as a designer at Coca-Cola HQ. After a few years my husband and I, along with a few other couples, did lunch at Tin Lizzy’s and then strolled the cemetery. It was even more breathtaking than I’d imagined on my commute.
What aspect(s) of Oakland inspired your winning design? There are so many beautiful structures and statues in Oakland that it was hard to decide until I came across this precious angel. Once I saw that angel, I was locked on. The next thing was that I knew I wanted to include some plant life to pay homage to the beautiful park that is Oakland and a reference to the city it calls home. The plant life came easy since beside this little angel was a beautiful hydrangea bush, which also happens to be a personal favorite! When I took a step back from the angel, I could see just the right slice of the skyline filled with iconic Atlanta architecture. The only thing better would have been to see the Fox Theater marquee from that little angel!
There are so many beautiful structures and statues in Oakland that it was hard to decide until I came across this precious angel. Once I saw that angel, I was locked on.
What is your design process? I always start big projects by praying. Then I do a rough sketch to hammer out layout and ideas of composition. Next, it’s time for either Adobe Illustrator or Adobe Photoshop, depending on the project. If I’m designing t-shirts or a logo, it’s always Illustrator. If I’m designing an ad for a magazine, usually I’m working in Photoshop.
You’ve been known to hang out in cemeteries before; what attracts you to these sacred places? I’ve loved cemeteries since I was a child. It’s a passed-down thing, as my mother’s family in Kentucky would gather at the cemeteries for picnics, to remember loved ones, and to clean the cemetery up yearly. They called this occasion Decoration Day, a very big gathering for Appalachian people. This later became Memorial Day.
I loved walking through cemeteries reading the dates and names on the headstones and wondering about the people who were immortalized on the stones. As I got older, I was just overwhelmed with the beautiful statues and mausoleums that are found throughout Georgia, especially after visiting Bonaventure Cemetery in Savannah for the first time. WOW! The moss, the waterfront, the amazing monuments, even the stacks of pebbles left by visitors on graves. It was an amazing place. Keep in mind that as an artist I have always had a sketchbook in hand, so, these places quickly became a source of inspiration and subjects to draw and paint from. This past summer while visiting a gorgeous cemetery on Amelia Island, I found myself running through the grounds following baby raccoons who were desperate to get to their tree and away from my camera! I did get a few pics and they were precious.
Since childhood Heather Ozee been passionate about all things creative and artistic. She’s the daughter of two southern woodworkers and a proud Georgia Peach. Heather has been blessed to work with some amazing companies, but loves mom-and-pop businesses and helping them to shine for their audiences. She owns Heather Ozee Designs, a graphic design studio and has designed for the CIA, Delta Airlines, US Military, NASA, The Smithsonian, and Skyview Atlanta. Heather has designed for Coca-Cola the past 13 years and Shane’s Rib Shack for the past three. She is also the illustrator of three books by Christina Cody.