Why Start a Virtual Summer Camp?

In 2014, I started participating in a creative exercise that was a month long during January. It’s helped me find new processes, new products, new artists, and new techniques to try in my art.

This course is called Creative JumpStart and is put together every year by Nathalie Kalbach. (I interviewed her catch that here.)

I really really liked this concept but instead of showing physical techniques I wanted to get a group of industry leaders and experts and have them teach about business. The parts of our education many of us have had to learn on-the-job.

In 2016, I worked with my friend Dr. Fred Baker, an instructional designer, who helped me get some things organized in the beginning stages of course. Early in the year, I put together a list of people and the topics I wanted them to teach. Then like all many ideas it stalled out because LIFE happened.

I was asked to play a critical role in the department where I teach and have an interim leadership position. I didn’t get back into planning mode until December 2018 when I interviewed Nathalie Kalbach about how she puts Creative JumpStart together each year. Her input and advice has been critical.


Meet The Camp Staff






















design recharge, designer, freelancer, freelance, side hustle, side project, multiple income streams, illustrator, illustration, design, education, business, entrepreneur, entrepreneurship, helping creatives, Recharging You helps creative entrepreneurs uncover and utilize their strengths, educating them in reaching their business and creative goals through training, coaching, and by sharing stories of hope.


Camp Director


Camp Intern


Camp Intern

Van Cooley


For over 15 years, Van has consulted with food / bev, hospitality, and wellness companies to co-create foundational brand and identity strategies that radiate.

A facilitator, community builder, and mama of 2, Van is expanding her offerings in Summer of 2020 to include individual and group coaching around mindset. Her philosophy is that everyone has inner wisdom flavored by their lived experiences. She works with creatives who have felt more or less an Other. Inspiring people to discover their purpose, trust and own their unique blend of gifts, and make it visible to the world. When she’s not working, you can find her engaged in conversations over coffee (black) and brunch, playing with food (cooking and photography), as well as, creating cut-paper art.

“I make people hungry.”


Instagram        Pinterest        Facebook        LinkedIn

De Ingles


Hi, I’m De Ingles, a graphic designer in Central Illinois.  My design focus is brand development + eco-friendly package design. 

Building a brand means research, user behavior personas, brainstorming + yes, a logo. When a business approaches us in need of a visual identity, we work with them to plant a strong foundation first. This way, when their “brand” launches … the “voice” in messaging matching who they’re actually trying to attract as a customer.

I am a co-founder of Smiley Graphix Studio with my husband John. We have been working in our studio for roughly 20 years. John is a Website + App developer who also enjoys being an illustrator. 

In addition to our studio work, we launched SGS Merch in February 2020. We design graphic tees, stickers (more items to come) that say good things + give back to organizations that do good.

smileygraphix.com        shop.sgraphix.com

Instagram        Facebook        LinkedIn

John Ingles


The other (bearded) half of Smiley Graphix Studio, co-founder John is the technical mind behind SG Studio’s IT and services industry projects.

His resume includes hybrid app creation + maintenance for Illinois Prep Scores, Intellihot, and Kwikee. John can make things look pretty, too—he has keen digital + traditional illustration skills—but he mainly focuses on hybrid mobile/web app development.

John’s leisure activities transcend tech platforms to more organic activities: he’s a Walldog muralist and a self-described National Park adventurer, family man, and guitarist in-progress.


LinkedIn        Instagram        Facebook

Mo Ismail



Rachel Nichols

Camp Counselor

Rachel Nichols is a brand strategist and an enthusiastic human, but only claims expertise in her ability to push through life’s obstacles and be continuously learning.

Her adventure has brought her from a small town of 700 people to tumbling through the school of hard knocks till finally, she is now building a career that fully utilizes her curiosity, empathy, and problem-solving.

Rachel uses her tenacity to help female visionaries find clarity in their story and create lasting connections with their customers.



Twitter        Instagram        LinkedIn

Fabio Perez

Camp Counselor

Hi there! My name is Fabio Perez. I’ve been a Graphic Designer for over 20 yrs. Originally from Cuba. I’ve been living in Miami, FL since 1992. Fell in love with graphic design at around the age of 11. However I didn’t really begin to practice it in a professional manner until many years later.

After years of bouncing around from quite the range of miscellaneous jobs that took me from sales to bartending. And many, many more in between.  I started to really set and establish myself as a designer at 26-27 yrs old. Since then I’ve had to pleasure to work for a couple of local and national companies, help and collaborate with a ton of local clients with their design needs and launch a successful personal line of prints and posters. And in the process, one of the biggest perks is the bunch of cool people and peers I’ve had the chance to meet. 

Today, I’m still freelancing and going after even more personal projects. It’s been quite the ride with its ups and downs but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I love what I do and I’m thrilled about what’s next. 

Gabe Ratliff

Camp Counselor

Gabe Ratliff is a creative misfit and reformed corporate creative. He is the founder of ärtful, an online resource that provides quality content, a connected community, and support for artists interested in being successful in life and business. He is the founder of GATHORA, a media production company based out of Denver. With 15 years of experience in marketing and media production, he is committed to supporting artists through their struggles with an art box full of tools. His goal is to help artists to see the bigger picture of how they can live a life that’s drawn not traced.



Twitter        Instagram

Jeffy Thomas


Hello friends! My name is Jeffy Thomas and I’m a pattern illustrator, muralist and creative cheerleader from India, currently living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania with my wife and pup. 

I’ve loved the act of creating for as long as I can remember. In late 2010 I began creating with paper cutting and illustrating and continued to experiment with different mediums and styles. In early 2019 I embarked on a journey of creating something daily for a year. Through the journey I built a habit of creating and learned a lot.  

That journey gave me the language to describe what I’m really passionate about. Which is that I want to create detailed patterns, illustrations and murals that provide you with the rest, or moment of pause at a time you need it the most. 

Will Truran

Camp Counselor

Will Truran is a commercial artist from NJ/NY who has worked for brands like Johnson & Johnson, P&G, and Harley-Davidson. His work ranges from graphic tees, to branding, and designing interactive experiences.

noblefolkdesign.com        willtruran.com

Instagram        Twitter        Behance

Diane Gibbs

Camp Director

I consider myself a designer first, although I am also an entrepreneur, business owner, consultant, and a college professor. I started professionally designing in 1996 and have fallen deeper in love with design each year. I started my  design firm in August of 2002 just before moving to begin my second career as a design professor at the University of South Alabama (Mobile, Alabama). My design firm, little bird communications, has grown every year since but I was working a lot and connecting with professional designers less and less. One reason was because of my location and the other was my busy schedule, between clients and teaching it didn’t leave a lot of time to recharge my batteries.

Working almost everyday for the past ten years I knew I needed inspiration and interaction with other designers but time was tight and I didn’t have the budget to go to more than one conference a year. I read a lot and have a summer filled with mowing grass and listening to podcasts and books. I was growing as much as I could but I knew there was something more. After applying for a position at my alma mater (Auburn University) and not even getting an interview, I started searching for ways to grow and connect with other people in the industry. I started Design Recharge, a web show/podcast in the summer of 2012 and started interviewing designers, illustrators, typographers, professors, business experts, authors, and finally started to feel connected. My growth as a designer and professor skyrocketed. But I enjoyed being able to share what I was learning with others live, creating a community of engaged creatives that are smart and have some serious business savvy.

Through my weekly podcast/web show, Design Recharge, I have built an audience of talented and passionate creatives who are challenging themselves by consistently learning and pushing themselves in their creative projects.

Madison DuRant

Camp Intern

I am a 21-year-old graphic design student studying at the University of South Alabama. I am originally from Daphne, Alabama and graduated from Daphne High School in 2017. My love for art has been apparent throughout my life, but I started drawing more and taking things seriously in high school. After a few years of being unsure of what I wanted to do with my life, I realized that graphic design was my passion. Since graduating high school and moving Mobile to attend South, I was accepted into the design program during my sophomore year. I have since been creating many designs and growing each day in my love of the field. It is truly my passion and I could not imagine myself anywhere else. I am especially interested in branding and illustration.

Aside from being a designer, I am also a follower of Christ, a fine artist, and a musician. I spent my high school years and first two years at South playing the clarinet in the marching band. I have a deep interest in any creative field, so music is definitely another love of mine. I spend most of my free time hanging out with friends or creating art. I have an older brother, a younger sister, and two amazing parents. I feel so blessed to be able to attend USA and pursue my dreams and I absolutely cannot wait to graduate in 2021.

Sarah Barnes

Camp Intern

Sarah started in the Summer of 2019 as an intern, specifically doing work for the Design Recharge podcast. With Sarah on the team we have been able to expand our show notes area and add transcription to each episode. Sarah is in charge of creating each episode’s promotion graphics. Her addition to the team has been pivotal to the growth of the podcast, she is driven and focused.

Get on the list to learn more about Creatives Ignite Summer Camp 2021. A Virtual Summer Camp for Creative Entrepreneurs.

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