Heather Crank

Interview with Crahmanti founder and project director. http://crahmanti.com/
Photo: Gregory Amanti
Tell us where you were born and about your early childhood.
I was born in Goleta, CA, but I only lived there for a few years. We then moved to Fremont, CA, then to San Jose CA, and then to Fairfield, IA to join a meditation commune.  While there, our house burned to the ground, we lost everything.  I was sent to live with my Grandma in Eugene, OR with one of my sisters to finish out the school year. From Eugene we moved to Bend, OR where I went to Jr. High and High School.

Do you remember some of the first things you used to draw?
Yes! I was obsessed with drawing the assassination of Lincoln by John Wilkes Booth.  I had an amazing marker set of 200 colors and I also took a lot of art classes in San Jose. Used to love to draw the shadows that my face and hair created when I bent over a piece of paper.
Photo: Teafly Peterson (Teafly.com)
What were some of your first inspirations that made you want to get involved with the art world?
I spent a lot of time at the Library as a kid and loved the illustrations from Grimm's fairy tales, specifically “The Little Mermaid”.  I used to photocopy my favorite images from the books I read to hang on my bedroom walls. My best friend's mom was an artist and she would set us up in the living room with giant pieces of butcher paper tacked to the wall, we would spend all night drawing lots of whales, Star Wars elements, and random doodles.

Later, when I was 16, I went to San Francisco with a friend and saw a B.F.A. dance performance at S.F. State that transported me.  I decided at the moment that I would move to the Bay Area, because I wanted to be in the heart of the creative, electric, energy there.

When did you first start getting into making films?
I was always putting on “shows” as a child. I used to write scripts, make the costumes, and direct the neighborhood kids.  My first official film was during my undergrad degree at S.O.U. It was a final for my creative writing class. Most people wrote short stories but I decided I wanted to make a short film of the stories being read.
What was your experience like at California College of the Arts.  Did you have any favorite professors?
CCA Was a very difficult, intense period for me.  I was an underdog for the first two years.  Coming from a fine art background, the mathematical precision of design was a struggle.  But there were a few teachers who took me under their wing and saw potential in what I was doing.  Eric Heiman really worked with me, he used to say that I had compelling image making skills. Eric helped me understand typography as another visual element, instead of a mathematical component. Once I changed the way I saw typography, my design career started to open up for me.

The following year Jim Kenney taught me motion graphics, and I was transfixed. I loved it immediately. MGFX Design incorporated graphic design, film, story telling, and choreography. It was because of Jim that I entered the Adobe Award competition.  I didn't think too highly of my abilities, and kept putting it off.  Jim made an appointment to have one of the Adobe “helpers” sit down with me to fill out the application. 

Lastly, Terry Irwin, Jim Kenney, and Michael Vanderbyle pushed, encouraged and helped me to be the designer I am today during the intensity and rigors of the thesis program.
Your film “Perception” won you the Adobe Achievement Award, how did this experience influence your work afterwards? 
I really was in shock when I won that award.  During the award ceremony in the Guggenheim in New York, I meet the amazing designer Lynda Decker.  I was actually hiding a bit, intimated by the presence of Chip Kidd and Sagmeister.  Lynda ran up to me and put me at ease.  She loved my work, and told me I needed a mentor and that I shouldn't work for a firm because they would use me for my talent, and that I had more to give than to be swallowed up by corporate America.  Res Fest (an indie international film festival) picked up the film and it toured around the world.  I was excited because I thought I had finally found my path.

And then nothing...and nothing...and I couldn't find a job...or a mentor. I Interviewed at The Orphanage but they offered me a secretarial position instead of the MGFX internship I applied for (rotoscoping out images,  something I could have done in my sleep (https://mixed.parts/post/what-happens-when-you-have-to-be-the-hero-of-your-own-story).  Eventually I went to work for Kaiser's Legal Dept. entering suicide logs from people undergoing psychological treatment at the facility.  Jim Kenny heard about what was happening and he had me come and work with him for several months for his company INTERSTITCH until I landed my first job in Campbell, CA at a start-up called Design Reactor.

Do you like to take chances while making your films, or do you prefer to play it safe so the audience better understands it?
I love to take chances! Honestly, I don't know how to play it safe.

What are some of the best ways to keep your client happy while designing for them? Empathy, listening, and trust. When I design for a client, the job is about solving their dilemma and giving them the best of my abilities.
Besides the Internet what other places do you visit for inspiration?
I love to hang out in nature, botanical gardens, see dance performances, indie films, music venues and spend hours in museums.

Your latest business venture “Crahmanti” is collaboration with various artists and designers.  How important is it to have these different perspectives on the team? 
Hugely important! I have my limitations, working with a team is a fantastic experience because I learn so much and the end result utilizes all of our abilities, and takes the work to another level.

If given the chance, what would be your dream design job?
My dream design job would involve creating experiences for people, using design principles while incorporating my fine art background.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now as an artist?

That is a really good question, one I am thinking a lot about right now.  I have a love affair with the subconscious and photography (https://www.bendsource.com/bend/abstract-emotional-landscapes/Content?oid=3985846) and would like to incorporate my interest in creating imagery/environments that bring people into my dreamscape.  I also love design and I have an idea that I am playing with that combines photography, painting and animation that I will start in 2018.  I think I am going to keep moving toward creating the things I thought weren't viable, or wouldn't make money and see where they take me.  I'm at a point in my life where it's time to be fearless and do exactly what I want and trust that I have the ability to create a life that is more aligned with what is in my heart.

Who would you like to thank for believing in you and supporting your ideas through out the past couple of years?

Greg Amanti, artist, best friend, husband and excellent at picking up the pieces when everything shatters. He keeps reminding me of why I need to keep going.

Brent McCowan an amazing Creative Director who really really helped me through a very difficult work situation.  He created opportunities that suited my abilities and tried to help me achieve my career goals.  He is a wonderful person.

BND DSGN founders who gave me the opportunity to create a beautiful exhibit for BND DSGN as well as to participate in bringing amazing, inspiring designers and artists to Bend, OR. As well as the opportunity to see Lynda Decker again, and meet the incredible Rebeca Mendez!!!

James Victore who I was first acquainted with when I watched his video series “Burning Questions”.  It was so helpful, he seemed to be on a similar track, and finding his way/purpose through facing his fear with integrity and honesty.  Eventually I got up the nerve to write him about my struggles, and he wrote me back and gave me great advice.

Today he opened up his extremely busy schedule to speak with me.  James confirmed what I was already thinking; validating the direction I was already leaning toward and pointed out some areas where I was unconsciously sabotaging myself.  He’s a very generous, intelligent person with amazing talent.