Lansing Middle School student Izzy Hammell builds successful business, one design at a time

The heart of Candy Heart Ink ... Izzy Hammell, 13-year-old daughter of Nick and Melissa Hammell of Lansing, has turned her love of art and design into a budding small business. Hammell markets and sells her work under the business name of Candy Heart, Ink. Photo by Julie-Berg Raymond.

Playful and productive ... Pictured above is the first image Lansing Middle School student Izzy Hammell has made into print reproductions and sold. “I was at the Children’s Museum in Seattle and I was in a happy, playful mood at the moment, and I just started splashing colors together - and this popped out. My mom saw it and thought it was cool,” Hammell said. Submitted photo.

Coaster creations ... Patrons of her parents’ restaurant, the Safe House Saloon in Lansing, will see examples of 13-year-old Izzy Hammell’s design work everywhere they look. The establishment’s new coasters, such as pictured above, are her design. Submitted photo.

by Julie Berg-Raymond

It’s not every 13 year-old who can already write a professional resumé that includes testimonials from satisfied clients.

Izzy Hammell, of Lansing, is among those who can. The young artist and designer - who markets and sells her work under the name, Candy Heart, Ink - has already had her designs commissioned and purchased for use on business logos and has sold print reproductions of her work. An eighth grader at Lansing Middle School, she has a seven year-old sister, Leona. Their parents are Nick and Melissa, owners of the Safe House Saloon and Simply Salon in Lansing.

Hammell says she doesn’t really remember a time when she didn’t like to draw; but, looking back, she does remember when she realized it might be more than that. “When I was about six my mom first taught me how to draw a person when I was really frustrated one night,” she recalls. “And then I just exploded into a million characters.”

Seven years later, and despite her continuing successes with logo design, that’s where her heart really is - in character art. “People who make the characters and make the concept make them visual so other people can see them and enjoy them,” Hammell explains.

The idea, according to, “is to go on a creative dive into the unknown, and from that abyss pull out the best design that matches the character description.”

Hammell is currently engaged in doing just that: She is working on a piece for an international illustration contest run by Clip Studio Paint - an artists’ software program. A promotional event celebrating the launch of Clip Studio Paint for the Samsung Electronics app store Galaxy, the contest takes as its theme “the cutest character in the Galaxy.”

“What I decided to go with is this witch character with an oval hat, because I noticed the Milky Way galaxy is an oval shape,” Hammell says. “So the hat, in a way, represents the Milky Way.”

Hammell heard about the contest through YouTube artist Haley Newsome, who works under the name, Lavender Towne.

“I don’t know her personally; I wish I did,” Hammell says. “I found her ‘Do This, Not That’ series online, where she explained mistakes artists tend to make.”

An example might be “using the airbrush tool to do shading,” Hammell notes, “which tends to make it look smudgy. Instead, I use the pen tool, the same tool I use for line art.”

Patrons of her parents’ restaurant, the Safe House Saloon, will see examples of Hammell’s work everywhere they look - because the establishment’s new coasters are her design.

“Dad came up to me one night and asked me to do some coaster designs, and I said yes,” she recalls. “Initially, I had a bunch of designs, and Mom and Dad picked out ones they liked.”

She took those designs back to the drawing board along with some suggested edits, then presented them with her final designs. One side of the coaster features one of her drawings; the other side is an image she created with graphic design software.

She says she didn’t have a problem with the changes her parents/clients asked for, because “it’s for their brand, and they know their brand.”

Earlier work includes a logo design Hammell created for her math teacher, Arla Wagner, who runs a sewing machine repair business and does quilting and craft work. And, in another contest - this time held by H.E.A.R.T. (Helping Every Animal Rescue Team) - she submitted a logo design for the organization. After online voting was finished, two designs were so close in numbers of votes that both were named winners: Hammell’s design went onto clothing promoting the organization, and the other entrant’s design was used in posters and other print materials.

Hammell wants to work in coding, animation and graphics design. “I want to be a game designer,” she says.

And, as much as she admires and is inspired by the work of Lavender Towne and others, she knows one thing for sure. “I will never try to emulate another artist’s design,” she says. “I’m not going to steal from another artist; I’m going to make my own art.”

At 13, Hammell already knows that her career path, like any other, requires work and dedication - and she knows it’s not always going to be easy. But, with the support and encouragement of her parents and teachers, she also has learned to trust in herself and in the creative process.

“One day I’ll hate everything I draw, and the next day I’ll love it and just want to show it to the world. But I never really had a point where I wanted to stop,” she says. “I have points where I get frustrated because I can’t get it the way I want it. Usually when that happens, I take a break and then come back to what I love again.”

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