Interview with Debba Haupert:

"I fell in love with transfer papers..."

Debba Haupert photoFalling in love seems to be Debba Haupert's secret to success. Over the past 23 years, she has devoted herself, heart and soul, to a series of distinct careers, and each has been high-profile, award-winning, and unique. Early on, Debba developed her marketing and communication skills working with national advertising and manufacturing firms. Combining that experience with her love of crafting, Debba launched her own company, BoBella Marketing, supporting manufacturers and artisans in the arts and crafts industry. She soon became a recognized leader, with over 250 television appearances, an award-winning book on image transfers (a 2004 Booklist Top Ten winner), and a portfolio of new crafting tools, kits and designs. Her heart again led her into product development, design, trending and marketing for a candle and home fragrance manufacturer. Today, Debba has found a way to bring her many loves together by creating - the online community for women based on inspiration, appreciation and celebration of girlfriends. She and her team provide podcasts, blogs, shopping, reviews and more to inspire women and their friendships.

Debba's influence is broad, but for us it began with her book "The New Book of Image Transfer." This is the bible of image transferring - one of the essential references for anyone who crafts or creates with pictures. That's how we opened our conversation with Debba in January of 2009:

VIC: Discovering your book on image transfers can be one of those "defining moments" for a crafter. Step by step, you take away the mystery of how to "put a picture on something," and the resulting rush of creative possibilities can be heady. Why did you decide to write it?

© Debba Haupert
The New Book of Image Transfer by Debba Haupert
"The daughter of an artist, I was brought up doing crafts, so it was a blast working in this industry. At several points in my career I've worked in the field of technology. So it is probably just a natural combination of these. The technology came from learning Photoshop around the same time as the book was conceived. I loved being able to manipulate images and then apply them to all kinds of surfaces. Eventually the challenge became to see what surfaces an image could be placed on. Stones, old windows, frames, hot glue (used with Lazertran Silk) and even creating clear stickers with Lazertran and double-sided adhesive sheets kept me in my studios (happily!) for days!"

VIC: We're into vintage images, of course, but your image choices are refreshingly eclectic. Some of your most exciting designs use contemporary photos, modern abstracts, and even children's drawings. How does your mind bring together an image and an object and see a fun match?

© Debba Haupert
Debba Haupert silk screen project
"I don't have formal training in graphic design but that is one of the key areas that appeals to me when I see craft design. The graphics and images have to be an exact fit for the project. One of my favorite projects in the book was the silk scarf screen. The 'undies' graphics were girly and fun. I loved continuing that theme with garter belt snaps to attach and (although it wasn't used in the photography for the book), I had made stacks of white buttons with a pearl on the top as finials on vertical supports of the screen frame. I loved combining those details in a humorous way. Those are the details that I love and enjoy, even if I'm the only one who notices them!"

VIC: Another striking thing about your designs is your equal comfort with bold colors and subdued patterns. From Op Art to sepia pastiche, you seem to use the full palette of design. What was your art training or experience that gave you such a repertoire, and how can crafters expand their horizons in the same way?

© Debba Haupert
Debba haupert hat box project
"My mother is a painter and crafter. She does watercolor, oil, acrylic and all kinds of techniques. I'm sure being surrounded by this as a child has radically shaped my art appreciation and skills. I was the kid who wanted to be an artist when I grew up, but instead I became a crafter and a creative marketer. As much as I'd love to be a fine artist and paint, like my mother, I'm probably happier being able to experiment with all types of materials and styles. I love retro decoupage to girly kitschy to classic black and white images. If crafters have a style that they love - that's fab. If they're eclectic - that's awesome too. If it brings you joy making and looking at it - it's perfect! The freedom to create is the only thing that matters."

VIC: By any standard, you have written a comprehensive book. Beyond the 39 illustrated projects, you have sections on basic concepts, tools and materials, a range of different techniques, and even technical background on cameras, printers, scanners and software. How much did you write from hands-on experience and how much from research?

"The New Book of Image Transfer" (which, by the way, was the title the publisher selected - I didn't want a "new" book that was five years old someday!) was a huge labor of love. I remember the super late nights and early mornings in my studio, the chapter deadlines for my editor (the team at Lark Books was awesome!) and the challenges of finding artwork and surfaces that I could work with. I loved every minute of it, but it was a very time consuming project. I did a lot of research, took classes in Photoshop and scouted around to find visual inspiration. It was a great learning experience for me."

VIC: What has been happening in the transfer paper industry in the years since your book? Are there new products or ideas you would include in your next edition?

© Debba Haupert
Lazertran products
"For this book, the publisher wanted me to work only with Lazertran. Now I love Lazertran and it was the best product on the market, but I really wanted to make the book more diverse and open to other products. Since the book, Lazertran products have improved (working with lots of printers, on more surfaces and even in more techniques) but other products have come on the market as well. For inspiration, check out and other image transfer sites. There is some amazing work out there and even some industrial and huge works that can be simplified and reduced in size to be fun projects. For a next edition, I would definitely include other transfer materials and lots more techniques. I'd love that opportunity and challenge!"

VIC: You include some extensive acknowledgments at the back of your book to the crafters, manufacturers, photographers, artists and designers who helped you. How did your collaborative publishing experience contribute to your concept for

"I am blessed with great girlfriends in the craft industry. Katie Hacker, Lisa Galvin and I formed a mastermind group and helped each other through all kinds of challenges - like what manufacturers to work with for what materials, contacts in the craft industry, ideas on ways to market our services, etc. Also, girlfriends Jill MacKay, Marie Browning and Cindy Gorder have been so helpful in just cheering me on and humbling me by even allowing me to be listed among them - they're more creative and talented than I could ever dream. I don't believe I could have done it without them! That spirit is very much at the heart of"

VIC: You became a familiar expert on many crafting TV shows, including the Carol Duvall Show and QVC. How did this come about and what role did it play in your career?"

© Debba Haupert
Debba Haupert with Carol Duvall
"I left a marketing career and decided to follow my creativity and passions. After hearing about the the SDC (the Society for Craft Designers, later changed to Creative Designers and now no longer active) on the Carol Duvall show, I joined. Through that organization I met amazing creative women (primarily) who designed for publications, developed products, made samples for print/retail, etc. They encouraged me to attend CHA - the Craft and Hobby Association trade show.

At my first CHA trade show, I was a little lost and wandered the aisles and aisles of craft manufacturer booths. I remember the exact spot that I looked over and Carol Duvall and her entourage were standing nearby. I was a little star-struck and decided to move on, as not to be a bothersome fan. In another aisle, I ran into them again and moved on. When it happened the third time I decided it was meant to be so I introduced myself to one of her producers and explained that I was a newbie craft designer. From that contact I was invited on the show 11 times and enjoyed every second. And, from that experience, I also did QVC and over 250 on-camera demonstrations."

VIC: So, at least four careers so far, but who is counting? What should we be looking for from you in the coming years?

"If I could, I'd have tons of careers. I love trying new things and learning! In the coming years, who knows?! The Internet is changing so quickly I just hope to continue to learn and to grow Girlfriendology and see where that leads.
Thanks for allowing me this opportunity to talk about The New Book of Image Transfer and my creative girlfriends. I'd love to thank all my girlfriends as well as the wonderfully kind and creative Carol Duvall, who made such an amazing impact on my life and is the most generous person in the world!"

Girlfriendology adDebba Haupert's The New Book of Image Transfer is available from bookstores, craft stores, and at and other online retailers. Learn more about Debba and experience her new venture at!

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