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Features | Fall 2014
Faith Petric

Farewell and Best Wishes to Jan Graves

As noted in CMN’s E-News last May, the Winter-Spring PIO! marked the end of almost nineteen years’ service to CMN by Jan Graves as our principal graphic designer. With the completion of the Winter-Spring 2014 issue of Pass It On!, the journal came to a point of major change in its technical evolution from a stapled, photocopied newsletter to a professionally-printed journal, and then to having the print-style layout in an electronic format with the issues being distributed via the CMN website. With this issue, the journal becomes a wholly digital publication requiring design and production procedures and skills that overlap with but are somewhat different from those needed for print publications.

Jan was initially called in by CMN in late 1995 to help finish up stalled production on a PIO! issue, and afterward was asked to continue as the graphic designer. At that time she had a thriving graphic design business. With PIO! she stepped into a predecessor’s design and layout template already in place, and has been gracious about working within it. (Redesign was considered a couple of times, but the board was reasonably satisfied with what we had and never thought it necessary or prudent to spend the money it would have taken for a do-over.) Over her years with Pass It On!, Jan added her own design details tailored to specific issues’ content. She created logos for the columns and departments and the Magic Penny articles. She has designed many attention-getting announcement presentations for us. She’s been ingenious in finding and adapting appropriate clip art, especially for the songs, and created some of the art herself, and she spiffed up the quality of countless photographs—she can even make mics or elbows disappear! She has also been gracious throughout in dealing with several PIO! editors, songs editors, and a couple of CMN administrators (including me).

That’s not all. Jan has often been another set of eyes, catching a typo or a strange wording here or there that PIO! editorial staff missed. She’s a musician, too—currently the music director at her church—and has routinely given an extra polish to lead sheet page notation that is a service not usually available from a graphic designer.

Easy as it is to forget, the era when print on paper had fewer competing communication modes is not ancient history, and Jan was kept busy with CMN’s print needs. She laid out the member directory and supplement we printed in alternate years until 2005 (and which, I hear, a few members still consult). She created conference flyers or technically improved for publication many that had been designed by volunteers. She designed the printed version of Bess Lomax Hawes’s 1997 CMN conference keynote speech that we sent to each new member for many years. She designed the Children’s Radio List we used to publish, and the many revisions of the letterhead needed as text, addresses, and logos changed. For years before the 2001 brochure came out, we were using letter-sized paper membership forms and outreach flyers, and Jan put those together from designs created in consultation with CMN leaders, then did the periodic revisions and updates. She was also called on to convert print materials to technical specs needed for use on our website. And there were many other, small items and services along the way, including a number for which she didn’t charge.

But in addition to her graphic design business, Jan always had another professsional part to her life: theater. She acts, directs, and produces as Jan Ellen Graves. Her primary venue is the Redtwist Theatre in Chicago, which she and her husband, Michael Colucci, created some years ago and continue to operate. As theater work came to consume most of her time and energy, she phased out the graphic design business, but was willing to keep Pass It On! as about the last surviving project.

So Jan has, for these many years, played an important part in enabling CMN to present itself with a good face to members and the public. She did it not only in the mode of a skilled professional fulfilling a business agreement, for which alone she would have been appreciated, but also as a participant in and supporter of CMN’s work and the other people doing it. Those who have had occasion to interact directly with Jan in the course of CMN work will not forget her patience, practical flexibility, and creativity, and her sense of humor that helped carry through many a challenging task. For her important contri­butions, Jan has CMN’s gratitude and best wishes as she moves on.