Phyllis Orzalli, Graphic Designer
My life as a visual artist & designer has been and continues to be the most amazing and satisfying adventure one could have.
“The answers you get depend upon the questions you ask.” ~ Thomas Kuhn
Here’s my story
For as long as I can remember I’ve made things with my hands. I was raised on a remote farm in Northern California. It was a long way to the nearest neighbor except for my grandparents who were only a short walk away. Because of this isolation, I learned to be happy by myself or by spending time with my younger sister. This alone time was my dream time. Â One of my distinct memoryâ€™s is sitting next to a lone tall pine tree that stood on a hill in the middle of one of our pastures. That was where most of my dreaming and thinking would happen. I could see the western horizon with several mountain ranges and wondered what was on the other side of them. There was no time or money for travel so the idea of it was a mystery.
Creating and designing from the beginning
Making things was a way of life and served two purposes; one it kept me busy and two it provided me and my family with things that we couldn’t buy. We grew and raised our own food. My Grandmother was instrumental in always having some kind of needlecraft ready for me to do upon my visits. She taught me to embroider, knit, crochet, and sew. My mother started me using a sewing machine when I was five years old. To be able to make clothes for my Barbie doll was very satisfying and she soon had a wardrobe that anyone would envy.
I discovered drawing when my Grandfather gave me a How to Draw Disney Characters book. It was amazing to me how with just a few shapes I could create these characters that I also watch on TV. It was magical but I didnâ€™t really pursue that too far I think because it was looked upon as frivolous and not useful.
As I got older, I continued on this path of designing and sewing into 4-H, high school, and community college, where I won several awards. Every season I waited with anticipation for the Sears catalog to come in the mail. I was then inspired by the new fashions and colors that I would sew for school that year.
As time went on, I focused on sewing clothing for myself and my family now married with two sons. Sewing was very easy for me and soon I was pushing the norm by creating wearable art garments. Some of these garments traveled the world from gallery to fashion show, winning more awards and selling a few along the way.
Beyond Clothing Design
As life progressed, I felt the need to find a job with a regular paycheck. Since creativity had always been a way of life it was never very far and I would create when time allowed. Craving that creative outlet and curiosity more and more I enrolled in the local community college exploring computer art classes and fell in love with the subject. I took all of the classes that they offered and a watercolor class too which I immediately fell in love with as well. My first college experience and it had always been a dream of mine!
I then realized that I was going to take this new love further and apply to Chico State College to earn a bachelor’s degree in graphic design/visual communication design. My children were grown by this time and living their own lives.
At the age of 50, I was excepted to attend CSUS which was an hour and a half from my home. The Visual Communication Design program itself only takes 20 students each semester which is juried by passing a rigorous portfolio entry of 6 pieces. Color theory, type, information design, drawing, photography, and special 3D pieces that is different each semester.
It took me two tries to get through this very difficult process but with much determination, I did it and graduated in 2009 at the age of 55 with a Bachelor’s degree in Visual Communication Design.
Why Visual Art & Design?
Why do I enjoy designing, creating, and making things?
It’s the satisfaction of being productive every day.
It’s solving problems, exploring and pushing my skill level to the limits as well as creating things with my hands.
I enjoy the way it makes others feel when I’ve completed a project for them and it is more than what they expected.
The bottom line; it’s who I am, I live to create, and I thrive on it.
The love of travel satisfies my curiosity about the world, feeds my creative juices, and inspires new ideas. There is so much to see and learn about other cultures that I just can’t get enough.
How to Contact Me
E-mail: I’ll respond quickly never longer than 24 hours.
Phone: Sometimes it’s just nice to hear a human voice and have a real conversation.
Call or text 530.913.8473