Local artist paints bright future

Paxton Garbel

In high school, most students face the pressure of what they want to be when they graduate. There are so many opportunities out there that kids in high school don’t know they have access to.
HHS graduate Caitlin Wallace-Rowland (2009) has achieved success through her determination and creativity. She is a freelance designer who works from home.
Rowland has designs on many products including candles, plates, water bottles that are available at HomeGoods, Marshall’s, TJ Maxx, and Target. She has also designed several fabric collections for Dear Stella, including one inspired by her own Southern Illinois farm.
After high school, Rowland moved to New Orleans for 12 years before moving back to her family’s homestead in the country, south of Harrisburg. She received a full-ride scholarship to complete her undergraduate degree at Tulane University for Art and English and completed her graduate work at The Savannah College of Art and Design for Fibers/Textile Design. While in grad school, she completed an internship at Lilly Pulitzer’s headquarters in Pennsylvania.
“Growing up, I didn’t know a job like this existed!” Rowland said. “I went into teaching at first because my grandparents were teachers and that’s all I knew. In college, I found the world of design and didn’t want to do anything else. It was the perfect combination of my interests.”
In small towns, like Harrisburg, discovering opportunities sometimes requires more research, and achieving a goal may also require more determination. Rowland’s vision of success was helpful in her journey as a designer.
“I have always been an insanely determined person, but my idea of “making it” isn’t one that holds me back either,” Rowland said. “I see it more as the following curiosity and seeing where it leads rather than there being a specific final destination that I “fail” if I don’t reach.”
Throughout her journey as a freelance designer, Rowland worked and parented her growing family while continuing schooling. During the last year, Rowland had a second child which delayed some of her work while she was on maternity leave. But, with the help of her biggest supporter, the process went a little smoother.
“My husband, Andrew, [and I] started as high school sweethearts, and he’s been by my side every step of the way,” Rowland said. “But if I wasn’t my own biggest supporter, I wouldn’t be here either. You have to want it more than anyone else.”
With all of the effort that Rowland has put into her work over the years, seeing her designs available for purchase by the general public was very rewarding.
“The first time I saw my designs in stores it was exciting but also strangely surreal and normal once you get to that point. By the time the products show in stores, you’re wrapped up in another project,” Rowland said.
After a slow 2021, Rowland is eager to get back into a faster-paced workflow during the new year.
“I’m working on more fine art painting collections and looking into manufacturing some of my own products myself,” Rowland said
Rowland encourages high school students to think beyond the type of job they want or the amount of money they want to make when thinking about their future careers.
“Always be thinking about what kind of life you want to lead, not just having the career you want to have,” Rowland advises. “It can be a harder road upfront, but there are so many resources that are available. The common denominator, no matter what way you take to get there, is making good work.”

Caitlin Rowland
Caitlin Rowland