Diana is the winner of our 2016 Holiday Gift Wrapping Contest. If you follow my social media sites, you may have already seen her stunning gift wrapping design. We were really impressed by all the detailed efforts she put into creating the design, from carefully selecting the materials and textures, to creating harmony with all the different design elements.

I was very curious about how Diana got into creative gift wrapping in the first place with her profession being an Anatomical Pathology Technician and where she finds her inspirations. 

Diana incorporates various textures, colors and styles into her gift wrapping

Diana incorporates various textures, colors and styles into her gift wrapping

Q: Reading your story along with the contest design, I strongly felt that you understood what the judges were looking for. Could you tell me your thought process of choosing the particular design to enter the contest?

Diana: I read the Judging Guidelines. The first criterion was Presentation. I knew all along that I had to come up with a gift wrapping entry that looked beautiful. At the same time, I wanted to "present" my entry in such a way that whoever looked at it would see the whole wrapped gift. I planned to take photos of my work from different angles, showing the different parts of the finished product. I had planned to show that I created crisp folds, clean pleats, sharp corners, and that my work in general was clean.

Next was Creativity & Originality. I was thinking that in order for me to get the attention of the judges, I needed to make my work stand out. I figured I had to come up with something more than just a wrapping paper and a bow. I was entering a competition so I had planned to use more than one type of paper, more than one type of ribbon, and incorporate my own style in folding paper flowers.

Then there's the Story Behind the Project. Like I mentioned in my entry, I wrapped the gift for a guy's girlfriend. The guy asked me to wrap it but he was going to give it to his girlfriend. Before working on the project, I had asked the guy to describe his girlfriend to me. What colors does she like? What style does she prefer? Why is he giving her this gift? What's the occasion? I let the guy answer these questions and my plan was to let my wrapping show his answers.

Lastly there's the Use of Materials. After getting the girl's "profile" from the guy, I thought about ways on how to incorporate earth tones and nature theme in a gift that would say "I love you" early on the relationship. I knew I wanted to have a red rose, some browns and greens, and twigs, nets, and other materials that would give my finished product a "raw" look.

Q: Can you tell me a little about your background in arts & crafts activities and how you got into gift wrapping? How has your profession as an Anatomical Pathology Technician influenced your creative process?

Diana: Since I was little, I've always enjoyed arts & crafts. I enjoyed coloring, drawing and painting with different media. I was never really into shopping but whenever my family and I would go to the malls, I would end up in the section where they sell art materials, looking at different crayons, paints, markers, and other crafting tools. While my mom and sister would take forever shopping, my dad and I would just stand there and wait for them as we watch sales associates wrap gifts. I don't remember them doing any fancy gift wrapping but seeing them fold wrapping papers and make bows out of ribbons so fast really fascinated me. I once told my parents that when I grow up, I would like to be a professional gift wrapper.

Working as an Anatomical Pathology Technician requires me to pay great attention to detail. Whose specimen is this? Is this from an adult or child? Male or female? What body part is this from? What am I looking for? Why are we doing a biopsy? In this line of work, I am required to find answers to so many questions. I do the same when I'm wrapping gifts. I see both Pathology and gift wrapping as ways for me to tell a story. I make sure that I tell an accurate story.

Q: What was the most memorable or interesting gift and/or occasion that you have ever wrapped for?

Diana: The 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest in Rockfeller Center, New York City, New York. They had us wrap weird-shaped objects such as gum ball machine, sled, and a child's play set in such short period of time. I never thought I had it in me to wrap gifts in minutes while cameras from different television networks and magazines were recording my work.

Diana wraps a giant gum ball machine at the 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. Photo courtesy of Scotch™ Brand (http://www.scotchbrand.com/3M/en_US/scotch-brand/): photographed by Ray Stubblebine (INSIDER IMAGES)

Diana wraps a giant gum ball machine at the 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. Photo courtesy of Scotch™ Brand (http://www.scotchbrand.com/3M/en_US/scotch-brand/): photographed by Ray Stubblebine (INSIDER IMAGES)

Q: What is "gift wrapping" to you and how has it affected your life?

Diana: Gift wrapping is my artistic outlet. My day job can be pretty dark, gory and sad. Often times I deal with specimen from people who are sick, dying, or dead. Gift wrapping lets me celebrate life. Whenever I wrap a gift, I am reminded that someone finds somebody special, and is happy that this person exists. I am just glad to be a part of the celebration. It makes me happy when I find out that the recipient does not want to open the gift in fear of ruining my work. I know of a gift recipient who saves my work and put it in a shadow box.

Her beautiful gift wrapping inspires a recipient to keep the package as a display artwork!

Her beautiful gift wrapping inspires a recipient to keep the package as a display artwork!

Q: What advice would you give to other gift wrappers?

Diana: Never stop learning. Find out how others wrap their gifts. Learn their techniques. Learn what others find "beautiful." Learn other artistic methods such as wet/dry embossing, alcohol inking, stamping, origami, etc and incorporate that in your gift wrapping. Learn your gift recipient's "profile."

Q: Is there anything else that you’d like to share that I haven’t asked about?

Diana: I was the First Runner-Up in that 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest. I never really planned on joining the contest. I went online to look for a volunteer work as a gift wrapper. I typed in "gift wrapping volunteer work in San Diego" and the Scotch contest showed up on the search list. I decided to submit some photos of my work. I never thought I would be chosen as a finalist, much less make it as a First Runner-Up :)

More about the her winning the contest: http://www.marketwired.com/press-release/national-gift-wrapping-contest-winner-crowned-for-2011-1594305.htm 

Diana won the First Runner-Up for 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest and received a lot of media attention. Photo courtesy of Scotch™ Brand (http://www.scotchbrand.com/3M/en_US/scotch-brand/): photographed by Ray Stubblebine (INSIDER IMAGES)

Diana won the First Runner-Up for 2011 Scotch Brand Most Gifted Wrapper Contest and received a lot of media attention. Photo courtesy of Scotch™ Brand (http://www.scotchbrand.com/3M/en_US/scotch-brand/): photographed by Ray Stubblebine (INSIDER IMAGES)

Photos provided by Diana Lemos

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