Hometown Hero: Jan Hamilton

Jan Hamilton has always liked to draw. As a child, he often used to doodle on stones. Now she uses a pen and India ink to create customized two sided designs on rocks.

After pursuing a degree in fine arts, she turned that talent into working for a marketing firm doing illustrations, graphic design, and brand identity. As she gave gifts she created to friends for holidays or birthdays, they would ask her to make some for them to give to others. At first she did that on the side, and gradually her freelance work became her profession.

“As I built relationships in business, it opened up opportunities to provide gifts of gratitude or encouragement in their personal life. It could be a family tree for an anniversary, creating an illustration of a home, or a stone with a customized two sized drawing in India ink. In addition to personal gifts, I also was asked to custom design corporate gifts for employees. But it all starts with building a relationship.”

When Jan talks about bringing faith to work, she says that she has learned to be bolder in her communication with others. “It doesn’t matter if I am working on brand identity for the company or doing something for them personally, it is all about the relationship and about building trust. And that takes time.”

One of Jan’s most memorable projects was for a friend dying of pancreatic cancer who wanted to throw a celebration for his family and friends. “He wanted to gather everyone he knew and loved together to say goodbye. But it was to be a party: a celebration. He had a scriptural message, Jeremiah 29:11, that he wanted to leave for his family and friends. I often illustrate on rocks, so I illustrated the scripture on one side of the rock and a different design on the other side, so each stone had its own individual design. There were 150 rocks in all. They were placed on a basket on the dining room table, and each person was encouraged to take one. It made a difference in the party itself. It turned a potentially awkward situation into something hopeful. People were taken aback by his generosity and by the message that he wanted to leave. He was still giving to them: creating a legacy.”