Or, how a graphic designer got hooked on genealogy.
I grew up both the daughter of a history PhD and completely apathetic about history.
It makes sense if you think about it. Kids want to be different from their parents – and hearing lectures about the Revolutionary War at the dinner table only accentuated that desire in me. “Come on, Dad, I don’t care about Thomas Jefferson, I just want dessert.”
But in 2016, everything changed. My brother got engaged and my mom had the idea of giving him and his fiancée a printed family tree similar to the one she and my dad had been given at their wedding. (It went all the way back to our ancestor who signed the Declaration of Independence.) What a unique wedding gift! Problem is, she’s not particularly artistic, and anyway, who has time to compile all that information?
Enter me. I was fresh out of college and looking for work. I had a graphic design degree and a computer with the appropriate software. Plus, I was family. Who better to take on a massive family history project?
So Mom paid for the Ancestry.com membership, we agreed on a pay rate, and the obsession began.
I won’t say it began immediately. It didn’t. It grew slowly, like, well, a tree. But once I grew tall enough to hit my first ray of sun, I was unstoppable. I traced our roots back to an English lord in the 1300s. I found ancestors in Ireland, Scotland, Germany, Spain, and even Guinea. I took DNA tests through two different companies.
The project grew exponentially over the course of three years. Then, in July of 2019, more than two years after my brother got married, my mom and I finally decided enough research was enough. It was time to put it to paper – or, well, Adobe Illustrator. I decided on a final size, fired up my computer, and got to work.
It took me just a little over three weeks to design five generations back. The end product was gorgeous, if I do say so myself. We had it printed and gave it to Jack and Emma at a family reunion as a very late wedding gift.
But I wasn’t done. With my mom’s encouragement, I decided to try advertising my family tree art services on Facebook, and surprisingly, I got quite a bit of interest!
Thus, Roots & Leaves Art was born. I’m excited to continue to share my unique skill set with the world and I hope you stick around for the ride.