We were lucky to catch up with Visi Herman recently and have shared our conversation below.
Visi, thanks for taking the time to share your stories with us today Can you talk to us about a project that’s meant a lot to you?
In general, the projects that mean the most to me are the ones that allow me to express a part of myself, build a community for others, or help people in any small way.
The most meaningful project I’ve worked on to date would have to be my button-ups. I set out with a goal to make trans-inclusive clothes, despite not having much experience with pattern-making or sewing. It was an issue I saw in the community, and something I wanted to address if I could–even if it meant learning all of the skills required to get there.
Finding clothes that fit different bodies can be hard, and trying on clothes only to have nothing fit is such a self-esteem crushing experience. It’s something I’m sure everyone goes through at some point. We start to internalize the fit of clothes–it’s not the clothes’ fault, it must be our bodies that are to blame.
I love projects that challenge me creatively and force me to try new things and problem solve. This was exactly one of those kinds of projects.
I started gathering data by talking to trans, queer, and nonbinary friends and acquaintances to ask what they look for in the fit of their clothes, and start gathering measurements from people who were ok with sharing. I noticed pretty quickly that the needs of everyone were so opposite, it would be impossible to solve every problem with a single garment, so I had to decide which direction I would start with.
One common issue people cited was the fit around their hips, and how challenging it could be to find clothes that fit and are also flattering to their body shapes. I researched pattern grading, or how clothes are resized, and realized after digging through different size charts for big brands that sizes are frequently sized up with no regard to how bodies are actually shaped. Larger sizes are just big versions of the smaller ones, which means they could have sleeves that are too long or torsos that are so long they fit like dresses.
I ended up using my illustration skills and all of this research to make button-ups that are more inclusive and thoughtful in their fit. They’re specifically made to look flattering to people with wider hips or bellies and reduce any dysphoria. I also wanted to make clothes that were colorful, fun, comfortable, and 100% cotton. I’m pretty proud of how this adventure turned out, and it’s great knowing that I can keep growing this brand based on the feedback I get from the community.
Visi, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
Hi! My name is Visi Herman, and I’m an artist, designer, and teacher based in Denver, Colorado.
I started my small business Visi Colors in 2013 by selling handmade stickers on Etsy. It started as a way to try and make some extra income from my art while I was in college, and now it’s something I do along my full-time job of teaching. I still make stickers, but now my art catalog includes things like handmade buttons, charms, and a line of apparel as well! As far as accomplishments that make me sound cool, I’ve collaborated with a few local Denver businesses on Broadway like Spectra Art Space and The Wizards Chest to sell my art locally, I’ve traveled all over the US selling my art at events like Anime NYC, Crunchyroll Expo, and Denver Comic Con, and I’ve picked up freelance work with Frederator Studios in the past. I just enjoy making all kinds of art and seeing what I can learn from all of these different artistic experiences! It’s been great to build up a community of very cool folks over the years.
As artists, we so often find our niche and feel forced to continue making what sells. This is especially true with social media algorithms that promote a rigid schedule and a constant outflow of new work. It ends up burning out artists who used to love to create. While I can’t say that I’ve avoided that entirely, I have found that exploring multiple artistic ventures and seeing how I can push myself has really helped me sustain my practice. I love to explore and see what I can learn.
Do you think there is something that non-creatives might struggle to understand about your journey as a creative? Maybe you can shed some light?
If you resonate with the phrase “I’m not creative” I would challenge you to assess why your brain agrees with that statement.
We can really internalize the things other say about us, and take these binary stereotypes like “left-brained or right-brained” to heart. I know a few people who believe they’re not artsy or creative simply because they like math, science, or anything else that’s “the opposite”, when in reality they’re just not giving themselves credit for their creativity. Don’t sell yourself short.
To anyone who sees themselves as non-creative, I would just propose that people as a whole have so much more in common with each other than they realize. There are so many practices that overlap, and we could all stand to learn a bit more from each other. For example, I recently found that what you learn in business school is very similar to what you learn in school when becoming a teacher. The more we can compare notes and share experiences with each other, the more empathy we can have for others.
I would encourage anyone to try something creative and then talk about it with people around them.
What do you find most rewarding about being a creative?
I just really love to learn new things. When I was little, I loved to just sit with visuals–drawings in story books, frames from animation (I would just pause the VCR if I could and visually digest all of the little details), certain colors or shapes in ads, or any media I could get my hands on. I didn’t understand it, but I loved it, and I wanted to be able to make something like that too.
With art-making, it’s such a fantastic experience to explore new skills and attempt to make something at the same level as the art you love in the world. After a lot of practice, you can get there, and it’s such a euphoric experience–until you find something new that you love, and suddenly the bar is raised. It’s almost like a puzzle. “How do they do that, why do they do it like that, and how can I do that too?” It’s a competition with yourself as you analyze the things you love. As you change as a person, the art that inspires you will change as well, so you’ll always be motivated and challenged by new things.
The thought that I could make something that 8 year old me would have loved is extremely motivating.