HOW I, RONDI LIGHTMARK, GOT INTO THE GREETING CARD BUSINESS

I've always loved combining word and image.

My life as a greeting card artist began when I was--maybe--in the third grade? Thanks to my mother, I have a record of my early efforts--I found one of my Mother's Day cards in her things after she died, 15 years ago. 


I've always loved animals, although we did not have any dogs or cats while I was growing up. I did have a pet mouse though, and also a parakeet that I trained to sit on my violin bow. And I used to sneak a neighborhood cat in through my bedroom window to snuggle with at night.

When I was 5 or 6, I had a stuffed toy dog named Doggity, who was a favorite companion. He got lost after a car ride. So here I am, around age 34, compensating.

Time went by, marriage, kids, busyness, widowhood at age 48, nearly 20 years ago.

After my husband died, dogs kept appearing in my life. Not literally. But a good number, running joyfully through my dreams. And also after I decided I wanted to give myself three years to see if I could become a writer.

Lo and behold, my wish was fulfilled--my first book contract was with dog trainer April Frost. Still in print, the book is "Beyond Obedience: Training with Awareness for You and Your Dog." Published in 1998 by Harmony Books, a division of Random House. You can buy it via Amazon.com through this site.

That writing contract led me to recognize that, in some way, dogs had become big guardian spirits. Even though life was often hard and lonely, I decided that such guardianship is a lesson about maintaining an unconditionally loving heart. I try to keep this awareness, even though I do not have dogs or cats in my life at the moment. It will happen when the time is right. But meanwhile, I get to enjoy so many through my work. On my blog you can read about Jimmy, my grandpuppy, who died just this year. 

One of my favorite images -- just a couple of old farts, hanging out in the late afternoon light. . .. 

One of my favorite images -- just a couple of old farts, hanging out in the late afternoon light. . .. 

Ten years after I was widowed, I moved from the East coast to the magical island of Vashon in Puget Sound. It's a lively and creative community, only a 20 minute ferry ride from Seattle. When I moved here, I rediscovered an early love of image-making. While on a hunt for a subject to explore, I remembered a longtime pleasure at the sight of dogs in cars. 

Do you love to watch them like I do, in all sorts of vehicles on the road, heads out of the windows, big smiles, ears streaming and flapping in the wind? Or waiting patiently "in park"--usually in the driver's seat?

Guardian spirits, to be sure!

 With such inspiration, Lightmark Press was born, in 2005. 

And then cats were added, because I love them too. But harder to photograph--they take more time, and don't like having anyone stalk them. Clearly most don't like cars. So I call that work "Cats Wherever."

Grandpuppies Branny and Jimmy, KVI Beach, Vashon Island

Grandpuppies Branny and Jimmy, KVI Beach, Vashon Island

If you click on the images of cards on the "Shop Now" pages, you will be able to read more about the journey I've taken with so many great subjects. I've written a bit about each--because they have all, in some way, been personal and memorable. My grandpuppies are nicely represented too, beginning with this bestselling image, part of a selection of cards in black and white. It's a popular card on Vashon, because the shoreline is dotted with vacation cabins that were never meant to be full-time dwellings.

I did not realize that my work would become popular beyond the island--which has been the supportive community that all artists dream about. But if you spend time on my website, you'll see that Lightmark Arts--and Lightmark Press--has been growing a lot over the years. Today, Lightmark Press cards can be found in high-end art galleries and museum gift shops and also in hardware stores, sports stores, grocery stores, wine shops, coffeeshops, garden shops. . .basically anywhere and everywhere that dogs and cats are loved.

And now here, online. 

Me with my wonderful subject Fiona, star of BW13 and BW16, beloved friend of Vashon author Jo Robinson

Me with my wonderful subject Fiona, star of BW13 and BW16, beloved friend of Vashon author Jo Robinson

This new version of my website appears as I turn 68 this fall. Old age? Who has time for it?

Thank you for visiting and sharing a rewarding part of my life. 

If you take a picture of your dog or dogs in a car, send it along by email through my contact link. I've just begun dedicating a special page with your contributions, which also includes some shots I took that weren't quite right for a card, but that you might enjoy.

-- Rondi Lightmark