Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

Jews in the Land of Disney: The 'Zen'-sational Joanne Fink


October 30, 2020

Joanne Fink

Joanne Fink grew up on the Main Line in Philadelphia, Pa., the daughter of first-generation Polish/Austrian and Russian immigrants.

Fink found her passion for art in high school. Her parents were the ones who inspired her by exposing her to their love for the visual arts and music.

"Both of my parents went to Temple University. My mother studied to be an English teacher and my father a pathologist. However, they both had creative passions - my mother for art history, my father, for the cello," Fink said. "When I was growing up, he played every weekend, and when he retired, he started playing string quartets several times a week. He loves classical music! One of the highlights of my life was the year I was leading High Holiday services and he played the cello for the Kol Nidre service."

Fink attended the University of Pennsylvania, majoring in sociology and a minor in Judaic Studies. Although she didn't pursue a career in her field of study, Fink expressed that sociology and Judaic Studies gave her the foundation she needed to produce the artwork that has defined her career. Her visual art is coupled with messaging that's meant to touch one's soul as reflected in her business, Zenspirations®, "Live by inspiring others to fly."

Fink was active in NFTY in high school and became active in Hillel at Penn, which is where she met her husband, Andy Trattner, at the end of her freshman year. "I remember the first time I called him," Joanne shared. "Answering machines had just come out, and Andy, being a software engineer, was always attracted to gadgets and he had one of the earliest models. I'd never encountered one before and didn't even know how to leave a message!"

They married the year after she graduated. Shortly after, they moved to Long Island to care for her mother-in-law who was battling ovarian cancer. Fink was focused on building her art career - designing Ketubot (Jewish wedding contracts) and greeting cards, while her husband was working as head of software for a company that specialized in military radar detection systems. During this time, Fink helped found the American Guild of Judaic Art.

After nine years in New York, the couple decided to move south. They settled in the Orlando area because it "had good air traffic, wasn't a 'snowbird' community, and there was a Kosher butcher."

Fink established their business, Lakeside Design, when they moved to Lake Mary, this time with her husband on board to run the business aspects of the studio. The partnership worked well: She handled the marketing and design, and he was the IT director, finance officer and business manager. 

Fink spent most of her time art-directing the product development and key account presentation projects the studio undertook. "We were hired by many manufacturers in the gift, craft and stationery industries to help them get product lines into major retailers. I spent a lot of time on the road, visiting clients, attending trade-shows and traveling to China to work with different factories."

The Fink-Trattner family have two children, Samantha and Jonathan. A gifted singer-songwriter Sam, who lives in Colorado, spent several summers as the music director for the JCC summer camp. Jonathan is a senior at Wake Forest University. The family was very active in the Jewish community. Both children attended the Hebrew Day School (now the Jewish Academy of Orlando). Trattner served on the board of Temple Shir Shalom of Oviedo, the JCC Technology committee and Orlando's Sister City Commission. Fink served on the boards of the Holocaust Center and Roth JCC, and chaired Jewish Arts Week in Orlando for several years. Sam was involved in NFTY, and CRJ's youth choir, and Jonathan was president of his temple youth group, GORFTY.

Known for her colorful, inspiring graphics, Fink recently launched a website, www.JoanneFinkJudaica.com, specifically to showcase her Judaic art. The website includes a gallery section that includes many projects designed for Orlando's Jewish community, plus a Free Resource section with downloadable coloring pages, Yizkor candle wraps, and virtual Zoom backgrounds, in addition to some of Fink's most popular prayers and poems. The website features two shops: one for synagogues with Visual T'filah (prayer slides), Shabbat and Parashah graphics, Yizkor candle wraps, and other tools to build community and enhance worship and life-cycle celebrations. A second shop for personal purchases features Art Prints, Ketubot (Jewish Wedding Contracts), and some of Joanne's best-selling books.

In addition to her Judaic art and writing, Fink focuses on two other areas: grief and creativity. Her grief journey began in 2011 when her husband died unexpectedly of a heart attack two days before their son's 12th birthday. She began journaling as a way of getting through her grief, and excerpts from her grief journals evolved into the best selling book "When You Lose Someone You Love," an illustrated memoir that brings comfort to those who have lost loved ones. Fink co-leads a local widows' group (now meeting on Zoom) and is nationally recognized as a grief educator who develops tools to help others navigate the grief process.

Fink is best-known for the Zenspirations® brand she founded in 2008. A synthesis of art and inspiring words, Zenspirations is both a drawing technique that can be used to enhance any illustration by adding patterns to the spaces formed when the exterior lines are double stroked, and a spiritual, meditative practice. "Spiritually, Zenspirations is a way of opening your heart and mind to your own creative potential. When your mind and body relax, it's easier for the heart's deepest desires to surface, to be acknowledged, and to be shared. Part of the process is to incorporate positive writing into the piece being created," Fink said.

Some of Joanne Fink's creations.

A prolific author, Fink has more than one-million copies of her books. Early in her writing career she focused on books about calligraphy and greeting cards. More recently she has written books to teach Zenspirations® Letters & Patterning and Zenspirations Dangle Design techniques, as well as eleven coloring books. She also creates illustrated journals, such as "My Prayer Journal," and her most recent book, "My Spiritual Journey," a guided journal to help people discover and implement their personal purpose at this point in their life's journey. Her next book, "Expressions of Hope," will be released in January 2021, and she is currently working on a book of art and prayers based on the weekly Parashot.

Fink is devoted to tikkun olam (repair of the world). She was the founding president of the International Association for the Calligraphic Arts, a founding board member of the New York based American Guild of Judaic art, served on the board of directors of the Greeting Card Association from 2001–2009 and served as president of the Foundation for the Calligraphic Arts. She also co-chaired the Craft and Hobby Associations License and Design Advisory Board for several years. 

Living and working always in three realms - art, faith, and grief - keeps Fink extremely busy. Her life and the art she creates makes the world a kinder, more compassionate and beautiful place. 


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