Strong teams arise from collaborative learning

Kelly Lyman-Assistant Production Manager, Blazing Editions Cranston, Rhode Island

Article | Cranston, Rhode Island | 08 December 2021
Assistant Production Manager Kelly Lyman followed her passion and academic background in art to get a job at Blazing Editions, a fine art printmaking and framing company. She cites skills such as communication, being a team player, attention to details and organization as key skills for her job. ILO Photos/ John Isaac
“Everyone would always tell me that I’d never be able to get a job with my art degree and that it was a waste of time. My family is not artistic at all and I am definitely the black sheep. But I told myself I'm going to do it anyway, and I did it and it worked out and I rub it in their faces every single day,” says Kelly laughingly with a gleam in her eye.

An Assistant Production Manager at Blazing Editions, a fine art printmaking and framing company, located in Cranston, Rhode Island, Kelly Lyman explains how getting laid off from a previous job led her to an opportunity that was in line with her passion and education in art.

“I was laid off from my job at a bookstore for a couple of months before I started working here. I saw the job opening, I applied, and I got hired, which is absolutely amazing because I really love art and I am obsessed with it!” Lyman enthusiastically exclaims. “What makes it even better is that I have a background in printmaking mainly intaglio which I learned in art school,” she adds.
Paulina Kobylar pauses during her painting of seaside scenes which are available for clients as well as reproduced through the sublimation process which transfers these beautiful creations to aluminium sheets. ILO Photos/ John Isaac

“Intaglio printmaking basically entails having a zinc printmaking plate that’s not too different from the metal plates that we use here, except for the actual metal. And then we use acid to burn a drawing or an image into the plate and then ink that up and print it on to a piece of paper,” Kelly explains.

She cites collaboration, teamwork, and learning opportunities as some of the attributes she appreciates most about where she works. When asked what words come to her mind when she thinks about the work she does in her job, Lyman laughs and says, “hot and sweaty,” a testament to the laborious nature of her work. “Variety, diversity and wealth also come to mind,” she adds.

“What’s great about working here at Blazing Editions is that everybody is encouraged to learn as much as they can about every part of the process from each other. Someone is always willing to help you out and let you know what’s going on, and everyone is very approachable,” she affirms. “There is an open flow of communication between people and various departments, and we are very team oriented.”

In discussing the skills needed to work in her role, Kelly mentions cognitive skills such as communication, attention to detail, the ability to work under stress, being a team player and being organized.

She says that while technology is good to understand in the business it is very easy to pick up the necessary technology skills needed on the job. “I didn’t know that dye sublimation even existed until I started working here,” she shares. Dye sublimation is a type of digital printing technology that utilizes heat transfer in the application of an image to a particular material.

While technology is a good skill to have in her and her teammates roles, Lyman says much of the technology can be learned on the job. She says personal traits and values, along with an interest and respect for art are what allows one to thrive in her line of work. ILO Photos/ John Isaac
“I definitely feel like a lot of working here has more to do with you who you are as a person, such as the traits you embody and what you value, rather than you having a specific skill set,” Kelly notes. “I have learned a lot of incredibly valuable skills since I have been here that has complimented my art background.”

While Kelly studied art and is working in producing artwork which go hand in hand, she truly believes that anyone from any academic background could thrive working at Blazing Editions as long as they have some affinity for art. “I feel that as long as you have some sort of interest, love or respect for the arts, and you like working with people and learning things, then you could definitely work here. There are so many aspects to the business,” she says.

“Myself for example, I’ve been exposed to so many elements of running a business, that I was never really interested in before. Working with a small team of 14 makes it so much easier to create a relationship and learn from each other,” Kelly says. “I genuinely enjoy working here, and the opportunities to learn that it gives me,” she highlights.

In talking about her future plans and goals, Lyman plans to attend graduate school and teach at the college level. “I love teaching and I love talking. Teaching is a great opportunity to practice my stand-up routine while also imbibing some knowledge,” she says with a chuckle and big grin.

“I really like showing people new things, and I think that when you show someone something new, they come at it from a completely different perspective than you understand it and you can learn something from that,” she further emphasizes.

As far as what work means to her, Kelly says, “It comes down to the bottom dollar as you need money to survive. I come from a working-class family and was told to work hard in order to succeed.” “I like having something to do, having a sense of purpose, and I am extremely lucky that I love my job,” she insists.

Having followed her passion in art, Kelly hopes that more young people have the same opportunity and can make a decent wage doing so. “We live in a culture of unpaid internships, and entry level jobs requiring so much more experience than necessary. I think we need more paid internships, apprenticeships, and opportunities for work study too.”

As she goes on to show us some of her work and show us around her workstation, there is no doubting that following her passion in art despite what anyone had said to her, was the best decision Kelly could have made for herself.