ST. ALBANS –– As an artist, Kim Dostaler has right-brained tendencies toward graphic design and left-brained tendencies toward painting.
That important internal balance also helps Kim find work – and have fun – at her home-based business, The Gift of Design.
Through The Gift of Design, Kim, 36, of St. Albans, offers graphic design services in: print (from reports and marketing materials to short books); branding campaigns; large-scale projects (such as car wraps); and Web sites, including fleshing out site structures for clients. (Kim does not write code, but she can build custom sites with Web-based templates, such as WordPress.)
Kim’s own Web site features several samples of her work, including her acrylic paintings, which range from animal-themed pieces for children’s nurseries to a striking piece called “Listening to John Lennon With Your Kids Is a Good Idea.”
“I’d love to get more of that work,” Kim said of her custom paintings, “but it’s harder to get work as a painter than as a graphic designer.”
Kim also works in “the mode of the gift,” meaning she provides services without expecting payment. Instead, clients that are happy with her work and want to pay her can give what they want, whether it’s money, a referral, or something else. This concept led to her business name: “The Gift of Design.”
“It is based on an ancient system where people in communities took care of each other by providing gifts to one another,” Kim writes on her Web site.
The Gift of Design is Kim’s full-time endeavor as a freelancer, and she works with her client’s style. She describes her own style as “simple, clean, and to the point,” as well as “bold, simple and crafty.”
“I try to do work that makes them smile or think,” she said.
Kim lives in St. Albans with her husband, Mark. She opened The Gift of Design in November 2013, about a month after she moved to Vermont from Medford, Mass., where she worked at Ace Creative, a three-women design firm that worked for non-profits, small business and clients in the field of higher education.
From 2001-2012, Kim was the Graphics and Web Coordinator for the Harvard School of Public Health AIDS Initiative. “It was a great base to start with,” she said.
Kim is originally from Essex. She was a gymnast at Essex High School and won the all-around state championship during her senior year, 1996.
Kim comes from a family full of visual artists. She said, “It’s kind of always been there. I always thought that as a kid: ‘I want to be an artist.’”
She also veered between “architect” and “lawyer.” She attended Ohio-Wesleyan University on a full academic scholarship. She was fourth in her class at Essex High School and had to maintain a 3.5 grade point average at Ohio-Wesleyan to keep her scholarship.
Kim graduated from Ohio-Wesleyan with a bachelor’s degree in psychology in 2000 and then spent the next four months in Australia, traveling and working.
At Harvard, Kim started as a Staff Assistant, but there was need for a Web site in her department. She took a free class and eventually earned a free associate’s degree in graphic arts from the New England Institute of Art, in Brookline, Mass.
Kim currently lives as a freelancer because she likes working for herself and having flexibility with her time, which she manages well.
“That’s what we were all meant to do: give our gifts, and contribute as we can,” Kim said.