graphicdesigner

In Ann Copeland’s airy Park Street flat Kermit the Frog peers down from a shelf, and the Cookie Monster peeks out from the crook of the desk lamp.

These playful characters are appropriate companions for this freelance graphic designer, who has put her skills and imagination to work for Sesame Street stores, Jim Henson Productions (creator of the Muppets) and the Walt Disney Company, among other clients.

With the tools of her trade — a small laptop, felt-tip markers, and palettes of printer’s colors, plus the other necessities of today’s home office (photocopier, modem, and fax) — Copeland has combined her love of art with a successful business.

Primarily a product designer, Copeland, 29, defines graphic design as “art with function.” Asked about croons in the background, she points to one of her whimsical but practical creations — a pile of diapers adorned with Muppet babies, stored beneath her office shelves.

“I had to buy these,” she laughs, “even though I have no kids.”

She has also transformed ordinary beach towels with her special rendering of Kermit the Frog doing his surfing thing, alongside Miss Piggy as a bathing beauty. More recently Copeland designed a set of party goods based on the Disney movies. “I was hired before the movie was completed,” she says. “I saw an unfinished version of the film that was a combination of sketches, animated sketches, and stills. All the music and dialogue was there. It helps to see the movie because when I design products, I like to give a flavor of the movie and of the characters.

I try to go a cut above just plastering a character on something. So, for example, I tried to communicate that, in the Aladdin movie, the genie is wild, and he changes shape. To make the products expressive of the movie, the genie’s face changes shape on the cups and party hats.”

Copeland saw the finished product for the first time when she was shopping in the gift shop Happy Time on Park Street.