I began my illustration blog in 2010 and it has been four years since my last post in 2011. 

When I first began writing about my illustration career that spanned over three decades, I thought my career was pretty much over. My workload kept decreasing; for years I had few assignments and it seemed like my watercolor paintings weren’t commercially useful anymore. 

But Tillamook was all it took to inject life back into my art career. I am very excited to write for my illustration blog again so I can share stories about working for this wonderful company.

Above are some of the many illustrations of mine that adorn Tillamook yogurt labels.

My illustrations can be seen on Tillamook’s yogurt labels.

I have been an illustrator throughout many turbulent parts of my life. When I turned 50 in 2010, my illustration work had pretty much stopped. That was when I began writing and it restored my sanity. 

After my last post in 2011, I decided to begin a new life and separated after a long marriage. It was challenging to dismantle my large art studio so I could fit everything into a small apartment. I donated many art materials that I hadn’t used in years to schools and other artists. 

Prior to my moving, I also had cataract surgery. Many people love their “new vision” afterwards, but I had a lot of difficulty adjusting to it. I was very nearsighted all my life and later on a doctor even told that it wasn’t uncommon for the brain to have difficulty accepting implanted lenses. I had many complications from cataract surgery and the worst part was when I developed dry eye syndrome.

Tillabars All

I haven’t painted with watercolors for over five years, but working with a computer has been easy for me. I explored and expanded my digital abilities and suddenly many illustration projects began to pour in after my divorce last year. It truly was miraculous. 

In the span of my art career, I have never worked with a more wonderful company than Tillamook.

Chocolate Hazelnut Gelato TillamookieFrom: Erika

Subject: Re: Shipping Tillamook Products! 

Hi Judy, 

Good news! Tillamook marketing is going to send you samples of the new Tillamook ice cream novelty products launching in 2015! Since the products have to be frozen we wanted to make sure someone would be around to get the package. Let me know what day is good for you.

Thanks, Erika

Wow, Erika – This is a first! I’ve illustrated for a long time and I don’t remember clients ever sending me the product (just the printed labels and I usually have to request them). You have no idea how much my son loved the small ice cream samples that I received in order to illustrate the Tillamookies. He’ll be very excited about this. Wednesday or Thursday of next week is best. Thank you again so much! 

Judy, that makes us so happy to hear! I will pass on your words to the rest of the team! Thank you!


Tillamookies All

Hi Erika,

I just wanted to let you know I received the shipment of Tillamook products today. Wow!!!! My son and I had a Strawberry Tillamookie for dessert tonight and it was absolutely fantastic. I was so proud to see my illustration on that label. Thank you again so much for sending me those delicious treats. How will I ever diet? I’m currently illustrating Tillamook’s Greek yogurt line with granola, so the challenges continue! 

Take care, Judy 

Judy, I am so glad to hear you enjoyed the yummy snacks! It’s the least we could do for all your help! I passed along your kind words to the rest of the team. Enjoy the rest of your treats. 

Best, Erika & Tillamook team

Tillamookie PackageFor my projects with Tillamook, I’ve worked with two different agencies: Sandstrum Partners and Flint Design. Both agencies provided clear and excellent art direction. It wasn’t as if every illustration was simple – I always did numerous rounds of layouts and final art occasionally required some changes. But as an illustrator I expect that and it is one of the reasons why I love working digitally. It’s so easy to make changes to my illustration using a computer in comparison to revising a watercolor painting. 

I have not illustrated everything for Tillamook; another illustrator has done all of their ice cream cartons before I came on board in 2012. But my work can be seen on all their yogurt labels and ice cream novelties. 

I am going to share my process and the illustrations related to those projects on separate posts later on.

Tillamook Cheese FactoryI took a trip to Oregon in April of 2015 and visited the Tillamook Cheese Factory. I also made sure to visit the two art agencies in Portland so I could meet the wonderful people I’ve worked with. 

My 18-year-old son came along to tour the cheese factory and we both were given royal treatment. First, a lovely woman named LeeAnne Mitchell gave us a fascinating tour. The quality of Tillamook’s cheese was easily apparent even before I learned how much care they put into their product.

Judy and LeeAnne

It was raining that day, so my hair was wet!

I learned a lot that day from LeeAnne. I loved seeing the “whey” cheese was made – it never o”curd” to me how complicated the cheese-making process was. 

My son and I were treated to a complimentary lunch. He said his Mac ‘n Cheese was the best one he had ever tasted (the sauce was made with sharp garlic cheese). LeeAnne even scooped ice cream out for us so we didn’t have to wait in line!


Not my best food photography, but it does give a good depiction of the amount of cheese there.

I was excited to see my illustrations printed on Tillamook labels; there were many that I hadn’t seen printed before. My son took a picture of me examining the yogurt and ice cream novelties.

Judy with yogurt case

Tillabar CaseThe following day, I visited Flint Design and Sandstrum Partners. I started at Flint Design. The building was in the Pearl District of Portland and it was a very quaint area. I snapped a picture of their door before entering.

Flint doorCatherine Healy was the owner of the agency and we had a lot to talk about. I was disappointed that I wasn’t able to meet the art director I worked most closely with, Amy Vaughn. Unfortunately she was out that day due to a death in her family.

But I did get to meet another favorite art director, Jeff Geisinger. I was touched when he handed me a stack of printed labels; I love having printed samples of my artwork. Years ago, I used to cut labels out and mount them on black boards to send to my artist representatives.

In this picture I’m with Jeff Geisinger and Catherine Healy from Flint Design.

In this picture I’m with Jeff Geisinger and Catherine Healy from Flint Design.

I told Jeff how upset I was when I discovered that my son had ripped open the ice cream boxes Tillamook had sent me. My son didn’t know that I wanted to preserve those boxes. When I told him that I wished he had asked my permission, I was greeted with a blank look and statement of, “It wasn’t for me – I wanted to share it with my friend!”

I have nice samples now!

I have nice samples now!

Well thankfully, I have a sense of humor about these things. And now that Jeff gave me those pristine flat labels to save, all is well.

Of course, I don’t need to mount them on black boards anymore. Those days of sending portfolio additions to my artist reps are long over.

I left Flint Design and drove my rental car through Portland to find Sandstrum Partners.  While I was waiting, I snapped a few pictures inside their offices.

Sandstrum OfficeThe owner of the agency, Steve Sandstrum, chatted with me until he had to take a conference call. I enjoyed having coffee with Lauren French whom I had worked with closely only two weeks ago on a Greek Yogurt/Granola line of labels. Unfortunately, another favorite art director of mine, Kay Zerr, wasn’t able to be there that day because she was at a press check.

Sandstrum-Judy, Lauren & SteveI saw displays of my illustrations on products at both agencies. It was very cool!

Yogurt Samples All

Packages on wallAt this moment in time, I can share the good news that my illustration career isn’t really over. 

From the time I began my career as an illustrator, I worked very hard in order to make it. I strived to “get there” and I’m not sure even where I actually wanted to go.

This is such a stark difference to my current situation because now I feel like I’ve arrived. 

And the place where I am is a wonderful place to be!

Judy & Lauren

Nectarine Direction

Nectarine Final

Nectarine close up

About Judy

I'm an illustrator by profession. At this juncture in my life, I am pursuing my dream of writing and composing music. Every day of my life is precious!
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14 Responses to #46 TILLAMOOK WAS ALL IT TOOK

  1. Jackie says:

    It was a wonderful surprise to see a blog post update from you in my inbox this evening! I enjoyed reading about the delightful new turn your career has taken and seeing your beautiful illustrations. It’s good to know there’s still work out there somewhere for illustrators.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Jackie, thank you so much for your lovely comment. I appreciate what you wrote very much. There definitely is work out there. It fits again with my motto of “whatever works.” Being resourceful (which for me meant becoming digital) really helps and clients appreciate someone who is willing to go to great lengths to satisfy them. I’ll write more about this new technique I’m doing – it’s a lot easier than watercolors.
      Also, I love music more than anything and this experience has taught me that following a dream can lead to many beautiful surprises!
      I wish you luck with your art also.


      • Jackie says:

        You’re very welcome! I work digitally in my graphic design work, but it has been difficult for me to make the leap from painting classically to painting digitally and I’m not exactly sure how to get around that barrier, so I’m looking forward to reading about your new technique.


      • Judy says:

        I found the leap very difficult. My first step was to learn how to scan my own artwork. Gradually, I was able to lift segments from one painting to another – I began to create new configurations. So I wasn’t actually painting something new. What I’m now doing is using my own photography to create layouts. I print them out and work over them – then I rescan. It’s definitely a different way of working but there are many cool possibilities for me that way. I only use Photoshop and haven’t a clue about using other programs like Illustrator. I’ve shared some of this technique before (on my nut illustrations) – but the difference now is that I strictly use color pencil over my prints and it’s minimal. Hope that helps!

        Liked by 1 person

  2. jmgoyder says:

    This is fantastic Judy!


  3. Monica says:

    Hi, you are such an inspiration for all illustrators out there…I truly hope you keep posting…because you are such an amazing artist, you are the real deal……and thank you for sharing your experiences…


    • Judy says:

      Wow, Monica – I am very humbled and touched by your words. I will definitely look forward to sharing more about my art techniques and how I’ve “reinvented myself.” Honestly, I feel very blessed. I’ve gone through so many things in my life and being an artist through it all has been such a gift. I’m not sure if you’ve checked out my other blog (My Journey’s Insight), but there I share a lot more of my life experiences. It’s comments like yours that keeps me going! Wishing you luck with whatever artwork you are pursuing also. 🙂


  4. I *love* Tillamook and buy it all the time… now I will think of you every time I see these beautiful packages 🙂


    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much, Melissa – great to hear from you. More is coming, because I’m writing about how I actually have done some of those illustrations. I’m glad you buy their products; they really are a wonderful company. I brought home some cheese from their gift shop and it is such a treat!


  5. Charlotte says:

    How fortunate my daughter-in-law found your blog and shared with me!
    Your work is beautiful. Tillamook is a wonderful client. I had the opportunity to work with them while in an agency.. long ago!
    Lovely that your shared a bit of your journey as well. Making those transitions both personally and professionally (going from a drawing board to a computer) are never easy, but once past them, we move ahead and flourish.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much for your comment, Charlotte. They could not compare to any other client – from the top down they were exceptional to work with. I’m glad you were able to experience that long ago, too.
      I have recently been enjoying a resurgence of productivity by painting for myself. I am so glad I have this blog to share my illustration journey with.
      Please know that you gave me a big smile this morning. I wish you well with your artistic journey and thank you so much again for stopping by! Write to me anytime. 🙂


  6. lorriebowden says:

    You’re the best! I loved walking around this post and seeing your incredible art, Judy! Wow! And can I say that I love Tillamook!! Love their cheese…and I hate to admit that I just had their ice cream the other day…AND WOW!!! (Not gonna help my diet!!!! Just saying!) It makes me happy that you enjoyed the company so and they took good care of you ❤
    Will catch up soon…hope your Sunday is filled with blessings ❤

    Liked by 1 person

    • Judy says:

      Thank you so much, Lorrie! They are a fantastic company and I miss working for them. They have redesigned their packages and used photography, instead of illustration. Darn!
      I know that I enjoyed eating a lot of their ice cream while working for them, LOL.
      I appreciate your comment, because you gave me such a smile!

      Liked by 1 person

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