For graphic artist Carol Sherman of Kansas City, Mo., Creston is where she grew her passion for art.
Sherman, a Creston native who graduated from Creston High School in 1967, has been designing the annual Southwest Iowa Hot Air Balloon Days T-shirt and marketing artwork for nearly two decades and has worked as a graphic designer and illustrator for more than 40 years.
Sherman, a licensed commercial hot-air balloon pilot sponsored by Medicap Pharmacy, first became fascinated with the sport in 1976 at the National Balloon Classic in Indianola. Sherman and her husband Andy Sherman spent the next four years crewing for other pilots before she purchased her first balloon in 1981.
Sherman said when Linda Hartsock, former executive director of Creston Chamber of Commerce, found out she was a pilot and an artist, she asked Sherman if she was interested in the gig.
“Of course I was delighted to do it,” Sherman said. “Creston is my home town. It seemed like the natural thing to do.”
Sherman said she has fun designing the Balloon Days artwork. Much of her creative inspiration is drawn from friends, whose hot air balloons are often featured in her work. She also likes to put a personal touch on each Balloon Days piece she has designed.
Sherman admits she is a “huge” Star Trek fan and the franchise has influenced many areas of her life, particularly her art.
Hidden within artwork for Balloon Days, Sherman hides the USS Enterprise — the spaceship from Star Trek — and has done so for years.
“It’s a little trademark thing I do,” Sherman said.
Sherman said Star Trek has also inspired the names for her three balloons.
Her first balloon, USS Defiant, was named after a ship featured on the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the film “Star Trek: First Contact.”
Sherman’s second balloon, Wrath of Rahn, was inspired by the film “Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan” and named after her hot air balloon instructor, Ron Reagan of Kansas City, Mo.
Sherman’s current balloon, which features the silhouette of a dog following a horse in a sunset is named The Final Frontier after the film “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.”
Even Sherman’s dog, Captain Kirk, is named after one of Star Trek’s most famous and highly decorated Captains, Captain James T. Kirk, who happens to also have been born in Iowa.
Kirk, who Sherman guesses to be 8 or 9 years old, is a rescued black Labrador and chow mix. Like Sherman, Kirk is a Creston Balloon days regular, who can be found chasing balloons in Creston with the rest of the crew during Balloon Days weekend.
Kirk is fondly known as the “weather dog.” Sherman jokes that if his fur is wet, it’s raining outside. Kirk’s fur also gives balloonist an idea of which way the wind is blowing.
Life as an artist
It’s no surprise Sherman has spent her life as an artist.
“My mom would say I would draw on anything I could,” Sherman said.
After high school, Sherman attended Kansas City Art Institute, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Art with an emphasis in painting in 1972.
When asked what are some of the biggest differences between modern design and her collegiate arts education, Sherman said in the 1970s, illustrations were done by hand with pencil, inky rapidograph pens, poster boards and paper. Today, digital artists have the ease of erasing mistakes with the click of button.
“I’m still one of these people that sits down with a sketch book and starts sketching out my ideas,” Sherman said.
No matter where her ideas start, everything ends up in Adobe Illustrator, where she digitizes her work. She said she had to take some classes, but is mostly self-taught to keep pace with the changing technology in the art industry.
“It’s a fun challenge,” Sherman said. “Through the years, I have had to reinvent myself more times than a lot of people.”
Sherman took some teaching courses, but quickly landed a position with Calvin Company in Kansas City, Mo., a former educational and industrial production company. She worked on animation projects for Caterpiller and Heston farm equipment. Sherman recently retired as a multi-media artist after 35 years with Kansas City Public Television, where she did animation, opening and closing credits.
“You find something you enjoy and it’s just great to be able to make a career doing it,” Sherman said.
Sherman, the daughter of Geneva and Elmer Hunt of Creston, said she always looks forward to Balloon Days. Particularly, visiting with her friend Linda Freeman, with whom she’s been friends with since the age of 3. Sherman is also looking forward to visiting with her former childhood neighbor Jean Paul, who she refers to as her other “mother.”
“I have very fond memories in Creston,” Sherman said.
And, many more to make.