South Jersey Spotlight on Deborah L. Kaplan, Graphic Arts & Illustration

Visit Deborah Kaplan's online portfolio of commercial graphic designs and illustrations...
Visit Deborah Kaplan’s online portfolio of commercial graphic designs and illustrations…


My relationship with Deborah L. Kaplan, Graphic Arts & Illustration, began as an online introduction by a mutual friend, Lauren Flounders of Fusion Employer Services. (If you don’t yet know Lauren, you can make her acquaintance via a previous South Jersey Spotlight.)

The online introduction led to a coffee meet-up with Deborah way back in 2011, where she offered my colorless and drab soul a taste of the illustrations and images she’s created for many a client during her solo career. From a business perspective, Deborah’s creativity is limitless:

By All Writes: Why did you decide to become a graphic artist and illustrator? When did you found/start your business?

Deborah Kaplan: Actually, I have been an artist all my life, so I knew at a young age that I wanted to become a commercial artist (that was the terminology at the time). I went to art college and majored in illustration, which included graphic-design training.

I landed a job with a small advertising agency right out of school in 1979, working my way up to art director. I left the ad agency when my oldest daughter started kindergarten. But I still wanted a fulfilling career that would allow me to be home with my children (and be there when they came home from school each day).

So in 1992, I purchased my first Apple Macintosh Quadra as well as graphics software and a B&W laser printer. The funny thing is, the computer had only 8 MB of RAM memory, which could expand to 36 MB. (By today’s standards, this is quite amusing.) And so, I officially started my freelance commercial-art business.

BAW: What graphic design and illustration services do you offer your current and potential clients?

DK: I like to think I offer quality graphic-design services at reasonable prices. Perhaps an easy-to-read list would be best here:

  • Illustrations–technical, cartoons, computer, free-hand
  • Logos–design, development, branding
  • Ad Design–print and web ads, dasher boards, banners, flyers, rack cards
  • Direct Mail–post cards, brochures (bi-folds & tri-folds), self-mailers, flats, catalogs
  • Large-Scale Collateral–trade-booth signage, billboards, signs
  • Stationery–business cards, letterhead, envelopes, calling cards, invoices
  • Miscellaneous–folders, calendars, bus rolls, pamphlets, restaurant menus
  • Photography–product shots (food related, construction equipment), backgrounds, exterior-building shots, landscapes

BAW: Who makes a good client for you?

DK: I enjoy working with business owners who want to present themselves (and their products or services) in a professional-looking way, created just for them. I feel strongly that business owners need to retain the rights to their advertising design/layout. Such ownership allows my clients to effectively shop around for the best printing prices.

Additionally, they can run their proprietary advertising in multiple publications for consistent branding. (Please note: If a client allows the publication to design the ad, it then becomes the publication’s property. When I design for my clients, I sell the rights to the design–I don’t seek any royalties.)

BAW: What is your ultimate “happy moment” when working with your clients?

DK: The best moment for me is when I show clients the finished proof, and they see their project “come to life” for the first time. That crossing-over moment (when concept becomes reality) never fails to make me feel excited, in anticipation of a client’s response!

BAW: If you could relocate your graphic arts/design and illustration business to anywhere in the world, where would you go and why?

DK: My DH (Dear Husband) and I have traveled all over the United States in our motor coach RV. Our ultimate goal someday is to use it full-time. I like the cool weather, so from May to September, we would be in the Bar Harbor, Maine area. To appease DH from October to April, we would probably travel to the Southwest near Sedona, Arizona. After all, have laptop computer and e-mail capabilities, will travel…

BAW: What are your favorite books (or who are your favorite authors) to read and why?

DK: Just recently, I was asked to list 10 books that I’ve read and relate how they have touched me personally. I must say, this was difficult for me, as I love books of all kinds. These are some of the books I consider most memorable:

Robert the Rose Horse by Joan Heilbroner (Every time my DH sneezes, I’m reminded of this children’s book.)

Toxin by Robin Cook (Because of this book, I can never think about ground beef, or meat in general, without a slight shiver.)

Desert Flower by Waris Dirie (Female genital mutilation is an atrocity that deeply saddens me…)

Babi Yar by A. Anatoly Kuznetsov (The author’s memoir documents his eyewitness observations [as a 14-year-old] of the Nazis’ horrific two-day massacre of Kiev’s Jewish population in 1941 at the Babi Yar ravine in Ukraine.)

The Lottery by Shirley Jackson (It’s a short story about a lottery I wouldn’t want to win.)

My Antonia by Willa Cather (A classic novel I read long ago–it makes me think of things from nature considered by some as priceless treasure…)


How many of you can say you work with a graphic artist recognized by South Jersey Biz Magazine’s “Readers’ Picks–Best of Biz 2014” for graphic design? If it’s time to freshen up your print or web marketing visuals, enjoy the personal attention and artistic direction you’ll receive from Deborah Kaplan.

Revel in the full expression of Deborah’s artistic vision by visiting her commercial portfolio online. To contact Deborah Kaplan directly, please call her at 609-567-1887 or send her an email. As a side project, Deborah blogs about food recipes and reviews, so feel free to work up an appetite by visiting AcadiaToo’s Kitchen Antics. To connect with Deborah Kaplan via social media, you’ll find her on Facebook and Twitter.

4 Responses to South Jersey Spotlight on Deborah L. Kaplan, Graphic Arts & Illustration

  1. First of all, I certainly wouldn’t refer to you as “colorless and drab” in any sense of the words. :)

    Secondly, thanks for this…Deb has done some work for me (that was awesome, I might add); it’s nice to see a little of this side of her.

    • Hi Bonny,

      That tidbit regarding “colorless and drab” is what we writers refer to as hyperbole. My mission in any SJ Spotlight is to make my guest look/sound good, so I’m happy to take a written bullet when accomplishing that goal!

      I agree with you, it was great learning more about Deborah’s backstory, DH, and book preferences. Please share the post when you can, Bonny (thank you).


  2. As a fellow commercial artist I am very interested in copyright law. Thanks for teaching me something today. Really enjoyed the interview.

    • Hello Kurt,

      Thank you for visiting By All Writes and the Moonlight Blog.

      I’m glad you learned something useful from my Q&A with Deborah Kaplan regarding clients’ ownership of (proprietary) work. Providing your clients with this type of insight will surely add value…

      I hope you’re now tempted to become a regular BAW visitor, Kurt. Take care!