We had the good fortune of connecting with Shelly Larson and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Shelly, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I’ve been in the graphic design/advertising game for over 30 years. Literally the only career I’ve ever had. In my 20s and 30s, I paid my dues and worked the 60+ hour weeks and weekends to get to the top of my field and feel I am well-respected in design and production (I make a mean print mechanical). In my 40s (and as my stepkids got older and moved onto their own lives and careers), I realized work can’t be the be all, even though it paid the bills. Moving to Westcliffe earlier this year cemented a decision earlier in my 50s to choose projects that give me or bring others joy (I know a little cliché but it’s true), To help people or businesses not only get a logo, look or design that perfectly fits their vision, but also leaves time for me, my family and friends and hobbies like just being outside and hiking the Sangres/Wet Mountains with my two dogs.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
As a graphic designer for 3 decades, I think what sets me apart is the ability to really listen and to quote Liam Neeson in “The Taken ” — what I do have are a very particular set of skills, skills I have acquired over a long career. I like to hear my clients’ stories, figure out what their design goals are and learn as much as I can about the business or person I’m designing for. I started out at my local newspaper and was a yearbook editor in high school and a public relations director for all the events at my undergraduate college, the University of Nevada-Reno. So much has changed as it was all analog back then (literally setting type on a linotronic typesetting machine and cutting and placing type and rubyliths for photo placement) and in the 80s was just making the transition to digital. A fishing guide book I worked on in college was one of the first books to be set and designed in a proprietary software that would become Quark XPress. As Macs and design software have taken over advertising and graphic design, there’s an immediacy that is both a blessing and a curse. You can get something designed fast but is it designed well? I like to think I bring the skill set to do both and be extremely thoughtful and representative in what I’m putting out there. I’ve worked on both the East and West coasts, had big-name clients like Sony Music (still my favorite 5 years working in Manhattan), Hewlett-Packard, Microsoft, RadioShack and Wells Fargo, to name a few. And while I’ve met people from corporate CEOs to Michael Jackson and Eddie Vedder from Pearl Jam, I’m very happy to have landed in Westcliffe Colorado and look forward to working with folks in my new community.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I would keep it local as I’m still learning so much about wonderful Custer County. I would take my best friend hiking in the Sangres first, a little ramble on the Rainbow Trail with my doggos to warm up and get acclimated. Picnic at Grape Vine or at the Followed by drinks and late lunch/early dinner at the SilverWest Feedstore (delicious and great outdoor patio). I do wish COVID hadn’t stalled the Historic Jones Theater in town as I would love to see a movie in a theatre but would probably follow up with a home-cooked meal and Netflix/chill at our house. Day two would be big breakfast burrito from Stage Stop or Mountain Mike’s Hunger Buster and a bit more adventure (most of my friends are hikers or at least love the outdoors) and I would do either the Phantom Terrace or Lake of the Clouds loop (working to get my first peak in – it’s coming in 2022, don’t you fret!) or the Wet Mountains if it was winter. Might have to make a stop at All The Range after to get a T-shirt/more gear or browse one of the great shops and art galleries in Westcliffe or Silver Cliff. My husband’s ATV would be all about Day 3 – some off-roading (possibly more hiking) and then taking “the rig” to the Alpine Lodge for a rustic meal with a terrific view. Home for dessert and a night cap. Day 4 might be a road trip to Salida or Florence to take in the town and great views you get wherever you look. might squeeze in a spot of fishing on the Arkansas River. Day 5 would be a day to take it easy, relax at the house, walk the BLM/backroads behind our property, and maybe grill something from Elevation Meat or defrost a Coast of Colorado fish or meat (they’re amazing and pre-portioned make it super easy). Day 6 would be a trip to All Aboard Westcliffe, the Silver Cliff Museum, more shopping and dinner at Chuds (pizza and salad!) or the new Tacos El Tapatio. Walk down to the Bluff after and take in the view, go to Smokey Jack’s Observatory and watch the night sky. Perfection!

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Any credit for my success goes to my actual and my chosen family, You know who you are.

Website: https://jostudioinc.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/shellyjmlarson/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/shellylarson/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/sjmlarson

Other: Photos are of me, Kit is white dog at Bluffs, Roscoe is backpack dog, my stepson Brandon and his husband Richard at Windsor Castle, our house in Westcliffe during the Thanksgiving snow. You can kinda tell that when I’m not working I like to be outside, do things and go places.

Image Credits
All photos are mine, except for random stranger at Windsor Castle.

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