Steffanie Lorig


Name and Company: Steffanie Lorig / Lorig Design & Strategy

Were you always badass or did you have to learn it?

As a child, I had social anxiety. As a teen, I was lazy. Then “real life”whipped me, taught me a ton of lessons, and helped me find my boldness.

Three habits that have contributed to your success:

Crafting a commitment to excellence
Using “spare time”with intent
Enabling passion over reserve

One thing you wish you had known in your early days:

That negative self talk prevents you from living your full life.

How do you deal with fear:

Take a deep breath, listen to it for a little while, then ignore it and dive in.

What's the one thing you find the hardest to do:  Juggle all that it takes to be committed to excellence.

What's the WHY behind what you do:  It’s twofold. I believe we all have gifts and if we don’t use them, we throw away huge opportunities—and our chance at fully being ourselves. I also believe that we have a moral obligation to care for others, to help lift up those who are having a rough time of it. I think my two biggest gifts are creativity and compassion.

Do you, or did you, suffer imposter syndrome (aka feeling like a fraud)?  Of course. And that’s just that inner critic getting louder and louder. You have a choice whether or not to listen to it. That negative voice gets stronger as time goes on. I’ve more recently learned to squash it early on.

How do you inspire, or seek to inspire, other women to be a Badass entrepreneur?  I speak to groups about using their gifts for good. I coach people’s creativity. I want people to live up to their potential, so I try to use every opportunity to encourage, edify, and cultivate confidence in those around me.


Steffanie Lorig founded Art with Heart, here in Seattle, over 20 years ago. As a recent transplant from Tucson, an artist and a fledgling graphic designer working in the corporate world with few friends, Steffanie started networking in the graphic design world and ended up on the board of AIGA (American Institute of Graphic Artists). Before too long she found herself representing the board in the community outreach program bringing art programs to teens.

Two and half years into working with the board, Steffanie met Halley, a four year old girl with cancer. Meeting Halley brought up memories of her own childhood in and out of hospitals, being lonely and afraid, suffering with asthma.  She decided she wanted to bring workshops to the kids in hospitals, a way to bring them some joy and light. But wherever she turned, doors were shut to her “you can't come in here with your germs, their compromised immune systems can't take it.”

Rather than giving up, she knew she wanted to find a way to reach those kids... so she went to bed one night and had a vivid dream of a book aimed at healing children with their own creativity. In her dream, she was shown this book and how she could utilize her skills “[I'm] a graphic designer; I know paper, I know printing, I know illustration, I know design. I don't know distribution but I could figure that out. When I woke up I had everything but the title.”

So Stephanie set out to create a book to help heal the hearts of sick kids.

In order to do that, she founded a non-profit called Art with Heart, sourcing talent from all over the world - partnering with therapists, nurses, art therapists, and amazing illustrators. What she didn't know she figured out.

Art with Heart, proceeded to print five books, as well as curricula, over the next twenty years reaching over 155,000 children world wide with a team of 11 employees. Giving these kids an outlet to share; through pictures, drawing, their words -- using the prompts in the books to help them verbalize what they were feeling inside their body. Where as everyone else was focused on healing their bodies, Steffanie helped these children to face and explore their emotions and think about their strengths, not just their sickness.  

It was interesting when I asked Steffanie if she ever suffered from Imposter's Syndrome (feeling like a fraud), she said that as an employee in graphic design she suffered from feeling like a fraud constantly – she was surrounded by the most talented graphic designers and it was hard not to compare and contrast, until she started trusting in her own value and let the fear go. But did she feel like a fraud as a CEO of a non-profit? Never. Becoming a CEO was sink or swim. She had to learn everything she didn't know and in the beginning when she said “I'm not a CEO” her next thought was, “but I am going to become one”. She never doubted her purpose, or her mission and she achieved her success with pure adrenaline, finding and learning from, her mentors.

Steffanie realized almost four years ago that it was time to infuse the foundation that she had built over sixteen years with new energy and new ideas. Just as she started Art with Heart, she now planned on leaving it, with as much thought and care as she put into its creation. She did a lot of research. Talked with a lot of other founders in other organizations, those who stayed on and those who left and she spoke with their successors.  Found what worked and what didn't for the smoothest transition. Then she slowly started the process of letting go, sharing all of her accumulated knowledge with her replacement so that they would know the history before they started making changes. Finally, trusting and releasing the reigns as of January 2017, allowing the next version to become.

And with that she has taken the leap into the unknown.  She is now ready to face her next adventure, but in the meantime she is enjoying creating.

In the past, Steffanie faced her art as a perfectionist; she would think of what she wanted to create in her head and then go about translating it, the last of which was a series of beautiful sleeping ladies. Really a parallel and metaphor for her own life, that she was uninspired and ready to move on, not only in her working life but in her creative life as well. So she started creating. With no plan and no path to follow, she lets whatever wants to become, become. And she found freedom. Freedom in color and texture. Freedom in looking at something with a fresh set of eyes and thinking “A-HA, I didn't expect that – that's kind of cool, let's go with it”, allowing her intuition to guide her. She has come to realize that with pre-planning there is judgment, a trying to force the image in your head to BE the image on the page.  But with letting your intuition take over there is no judgment, or emotional attachment that comes alongside all that judgment. Now, if she doesn't like something she just paints over it, she starts anew. These current paintings are gorgeous, colorful and full of life.

As Steffanie is trying to figure out this next phase in her life, she's starting to interview, she's deciding if she wants to enter back into the field of graphic design but is feeling vulnerable, she hasn't done strictly that in a very long time. Instead of "just" graphic design, she's been busy running a non-profit, creating, leading, publishing, designing, hiring and firing employees, doing whatever was needed of her.  When you are doing the work of your heart for so long, I can imagine it's scary to start looking for a "job".

In the meantime, she's creating workshops for people to connect with their emotions in this topsy-turvy political landscape.   Allowing them to do a little self-reflecting on what's deep inside, creating space “that you may have been repressing because it's too dark, or scary, or too whatever … letting it out in a way that is not scary and in fact, welcoming. So you can take it outside of yourself and not carry it with you wherever you go. Unpacked from that burden on your back, and now it's on a piece of paper, or clay, or whatever medium, so now you can look at it and interpret it and reinterpret it and say, well that was me then and now I am stronger.”  

I'm sure once Steffanie stops trying to figure it all out.  Stops trying to design her life in her head and instead create brushstrokes on her canvas; painting over and restarting when it doesn't cause her joy or value, those brush strokes are going to create a pretty amazing picture on this next trajectory in her life.  

To find Steffanie and look at her artwork or attend a workshop, please visit:

Below is an art project to do with your kids or on your own.  Take an old book and create.  Create poetry by collaging over words, create pictures, create paintings.  Create whatever you are feel moved to create, knowing the next day (week, month) you'll have a brand new page to work along with new emotions to convey.

Jessica McClure