We had the good fortune of connecting with Colleen Smith and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Colleen, can you talk to us a bit about the social impact of your business?
Media bashing has been around for a while, but in recent years escalated under a president who promoted the idea of “fake news” and echoed Stalin by calling journalists “the enemy of the people.” Quite the contrary is true from my point of view as a communicator, a story-teller, an author, a novelist, a journalist and art director and screenwriter and filmmaker. Through our communications, we’ve helped promote nonprofit organizations and their missions and their communities and their fundraising events. We’ve helped shed limelight on musicians and artists, architects and leading-edge individuals and organizations. We’ve helped people learn more about gardening, crafts and design projects that bring beauty and joy. We’ve helped explain complex problems such as child abuse, youth homelessness, poverty. My writing has included international assignments that helped bridge our world through understanding and communication.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I’m unusual in that I’m both a writer and a visual person, so a lot of the work my creative team and I produced was both written by me and visualized by me. I’ve always enjoyed the combination of the right words with the right visuals. Collaborating with other creatives — graphic designers, photographers, calligraphers, videographers and film editors — I’ve enjoyed the end result of my visions for books, films, brochures, posters, signage, maps, flyers, stationary, logos, CD covers and an almost endless list of deliverables. A Shoutout must go to all the creatives I’ve worked with over the years. That old saying about the power of surrounding oneself with the best people really is accurate. I’d also say part of our secret sauce was joy. I’m a firm believer in finding the element of joy in the work. Joy shows. Joy can be felt. And joy sustains the process, which can be long and arduous and frustrating as hell. Even when I’m working on something super heavy, for example this 4-part series I wrote recently on youth homelessness, I had joy in knowing I was sharing important stories and information that might help improve the situation. I had the tagline “Wag your tale” because it is playful — a play on words, but also the idea of wagging the tail as a sign of joy. I also used the tagline “inspired and inspiring” because I wanted my work to stem from inspiration and also to inspire others.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Concerts at both Red Rocks and Fiddler’s Green are at the top of my list, and also The Bluebird, the Paramount and The Ogden for concerts. I covered concerts for many years for The Denver Post, so I like Denver’s music scene as one of the city’s high points. I like to take people to Cranmer Park, also known as Sundial Park, for a panoramic view of Colorado’s Front Range and an inlaid guide to the distant peaks. City Park is another nearby place for a walk around the lakes. I like to take guests to Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver Art Museum or the Museum of Nature and Science especially for the hall of gems. Definitely a trip to the mountains, Vail or Beaver Creek are favorites, or even a day hike. During the pandemic, it’s almost difficult to remember what we did prior to quarantine.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
My Shoutout must include my education, and particularly my undergraduate work at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop, where I was trained and formed as a writer. Also, while Catholic schools can get a bad rap, I had a wonderful experience with the Sisters of the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary. Their name sounds so holy, yet they were somewhat radical. Founded in Ireland, they valued students’ individual aptitudes and they emphasized creativity. My elementary school education fostered my love of books and art and music, nature, athletics and plaid. Seriously, I liked my school uniform! Looking back, I see how much these nuns taught us, too, about social justice and the preferential option for the poor, compassion for “the least among us.” I think that inspired me to do so much work for nonprofits over the course of my career, to help as many people as possible and to attempt to live in peace. Obviously, coming from a supportive family and having lots of friends provides critical community, and one’s education takes many forms. I think about my yoga teachers, too, and my various coaches, mentors and leaders, colleagues, editors and publishers. Success doesn’t take shape in a vacuum.
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Other: https://fridayjonespublishing.wordpress.com Colleen Smith Art + Object author https://www.artandobject.com/authors/colleen-smith Colleen Smith Denver Post author page https://www.denverpost.com/author/colleen-smith/