Diabetes Forecast

Illustrator's Work Supports Diabetes Research

By Kelly Toves ,

One of Cartwright's winning card designs

Sharon Cartwright has a knack for depicting winter wonderlands, warm fireplaces, and special family occasions. She's made a living designing and illustrating greeting cards and books that celebrate everything from a new baby to Christmas morning. "You try to think about illustrating the sentiment, about what the card is saying and what emotions it's sending," says Cartwright, 57, a freelance artist.

Cartwright's artwork was selected for the American Diabetes Association's 2010 Gift of Hope catalog, which sells holiday greeting cards and other items to raise money for diabetes research. The Gift of Hope program stems from a small fund-raiser that began in Minnesota in 1971, when a dozen parents of children with diabetes sold holiday cards to raise money to support the search for a cure. Since then, the program—which now includes calendars, ornaments, and other gifts—has raised more than $22.5 million.

Through Gift of Hope, you can also create your own photo greeting cards and gift items. For more
information or to order from the catalog, visit diabetes.org/giftofhope.

Cartwright dedicated her three winning card designs this year to her husband and fellow illustrator, Kris Cartwright, 53, who was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in 1999. He had a card in last year's catalog. The Cartwrights met and married while they were working as artists for Hallmark in the 1980s. Sharon Cartwright was there for more than nine years, illustrating greeting cards, calendars, gift wrap, and baby albums. "It was a wonderful experience to work with the artists," she says, recalling the charm of the old Victorian that housed Hallmark offices in downtown Colorado Springs, Colo. "It was like the golden years of illustration."

Cartwright has plenty of experience depicting scenes associated with Christmas. She illustrated a version of The Night Before Christmas, published by Random House in 1999, using live models to help create her sketches: Her husband posed as Santa Claus, his parents modeled as the mother and father, and their niece posed as one of the children who lay dreaming of sugarplums. She likens the process to being a movie director—creating the environment and reimagining the characters and animated toys. "When I illustrated the book, I tried to imagine what it would be like to be a kid," she says. "That magical feeling you have as a kid [at Christmastime] stays with you."

The Cartwrights continue to collaborate on projects, illustrating children's workbooks for educational publishers. They use the same teamwork to manage Kris's diabetes. "The biggest change [I made after Kris was diagnosed] was being aware of carbohydrates and refined sugars, and trying to eat the same things [as him] so I could make it easier for him," Sharon says. She hopes their efforts to raise money for a cure will pay off one day. "He wouldn't have to always worry about what he eats, and he wouldn't have to worry about physical complications," she says. "It would bring a feeling of peace."



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