We all know words matter: They can inspire, uplift, and turn a day completely around. Hallmark Lettering Artists Lynn G., Barb M., and Livy L. spend their days interpreting messages from our Creative Writing Studio on greeting cards—recently, they matched their talents with ideas from local elementary school students to create an inspirational mural.
How can positive words help change the world? That question from this year’s Creative Leadership Symposium prompted us to start an inspirational mural project. We partnered with Cora S., Hallmark’s community involvement director, to find a wall to paint. The perfect opportunity was just four blocks away at Longfellow Elementary School, with plenty of bare interior walls and an enthusiastic principal who welcomed the idea.
We knew the words needed to be authentic—so the writing studio hosted a workshop for fifth graders. They gave the kids writing prompts: “What do you tell yourself when you’re trying to achieve a goal?” and “What message do you wish everyone in your school could see as they’re walking down the hall?”
Lots of good ideas and words later, one of the kids summed it up: Follow your heart and reach for the stars.
Livy took the quote and started sketching, knowing the kids would see this mural every day as they came up the stairs to their classrooms. After several rough drafts, she decided to keep it simple and bold like the words themselves. The quote sits within an energetic banner, surrounded by graphic hands that reach up to grab stars. There’s also a small, non-traditional rainbow sweeping behind the banner on the right side for added fun and as a symbol of hope and positivity. Livy worked with the school colors, using shades of blue and gold to fill out the design, along with accents of turquoise and bright yellow.
Meanwhile, lots of research was happening. Because we had limited experience painting murals, we tapped into friends inside and outside of Hallmark for the latest techniques. We ended up having 10 more people come help us over four days.
The magical moment—when everything was finally cleaned up, step stools and tarps put away—was seeing the completed mural. It is a marvelous bright spot that will greet the kids when they come back to school. Dr. Jimmie Bullard, principal at Longfellow, wrote a thank-you note to the team that said in part, “This mural will provide our students with renewed hope and purpose, that people really do care about them. It represents a fresh start and a new beginning for our students, parents, and staff. This mural is now a part of the Longfellow Family history and will be a constant reminder to everyone who views it to Follow their Heart and Reach for the Stars!”