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Lucia Heffernan

(Born 1966)

Health Guru

Oil on canvas-panel

30 x 30 inches

Signed

BIOGRAPHY - Lucia Heffernan (Born 1966)

Lucia Heffernan

Lucia Heffernan spent her childhood in Tainan City in southwestern Taiwan, where her father worked as a translator for the US Air Force and her mother was a schoolteacher specializing in art. Not surprisingly, she taught all three of her daughters to paint and draw at an early age. Along with a traditionally demanding schedule of school and studying, as well as ballet and karate classes, Heffernan entertained herself by creating intricate and fashionable outfits for her paper dolls.

Life changed in April 1979 when the US Congress passed the Taiwan Relations Act, which provided a new framework for the US relationship with Taiwan following the establishment of diplomatic ties with the People’s Republic of China. [i] As an employee of the US Air Force, Heffernan’s father determined that moving his family to the US would be wise and chose to settle in upstate New York near relatives. The family soon took up residence in Endgame, NY just outside of Binghamton.

This was a challenging development for a 13-year-old girl who spoke no English. Heffernan recalls watching Sesame Street to learn the alphabet as well as how to read in such an unfamiliar context. As it turned out, her drawing skills facilitated accurate communication while she was learning the language. In high school she excelled in art and math, and with the encouragement of a favorite art teacher, she entered a variety of drawing and painting competitions. Her work was strong enough to gain a scholarship to Cooper Union in Manhattan, but parental concerns about safety guided her to attend Binghamton University, closer to home. There, she studied painting and illustration, graduating with honors in 1989 with a Fine Arts and Design degree.

Then she took a gap year, spending most of that time as a “ski bum” ski instructor at Killington, a well-known resort in Vermont. Eventually, Heffernan would move to Boston where her older sister was living, to take a job as a graphic designer at Coopers & Lybrand in the design department. During these years, she met Ron Heffernan at Killington, where their shared passion for skiing brought them together. Soon, the distance between Boston and New York, where Ron lived, seemed too long, and Heffernan transferred to the Manhattan office of Coopers & Lybrand.

Graphic design was only one of the many fields that saw tremendous growth in the 1990s. The widespread acceptance of the internet and the increasing presence of personal computers in the workplace were all part of the dot-com boom. As an early adaptor of digital technology in her field, Heffernan was fascinated by the possibilities that were opening for her. She and her colleague and friend Monica Hsu formed a partnership in 1993, and Ron Heffernan, who was then working at Olympus Medical, provided the start-up funding. Lead Dog Design (LDD) leased a “little hole on 22nd Street,” recalls Heffernan; their first client was PolyGram Records, then a newly reorganized corporation in the US. While Hsu handled the print media, Heffernan learned coding for several graphic design programs. And LDD “grew like crazy”. Soon, Heffernan was hiring more designers, and they were able to leave the “little hole” for more spacious quarters. In a couple of years, they had fifty employees on staff. Like many successful start-ups in the 1990s, Lead Dog Design attracted the attention of larger financial investment companies looking for a smart, hi-tech firm that would enhance their portfolios with plenty of profit. When Iconixx approached LDD in early 2000, they agreed to sell.

Between 1995 and March 2000, the NASDAQ Composite stock market rose 800%, one of the most spectacular rises in the history of the US economy. On March 10, the bubble burst; NASDAQ stocks fell by 77%, losing a substantial majority of the gains they had acquired during the 1990s. Heffernan and her partners had sold LDD at exactly the right moment. They were able to buy it back with the intention of focusing exclusively on New York clients and had just begun the process of re-establishing LDD when terrorists attacked the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001. Many of LDD’s clients were located in those buildings. Combined with the shock of the tragedy, the ensuing chaos in the New York economy was not conducive to developing businesses. When Bridgeline, a Boston-based digital management corporation, made an offer for LDD, they decided to sell.

With the tumultuous years of the dot-com boom behind them, the Heffernans considered early retirement. They moved to Utah—where they could ski—and resolved to do no work other than the occasional freelance project. They started a family: their twins were born in 2004. After several years, Ron determined that he wanted to become an investment banker and started the necessary classes to establish himself in the field. Lucia Heffernan began to paint again, mostly images of her children and her dogs.

During this time, Heffernan became fascinated with painting animals, buying chicks and mice from local farms and pet stores to use as models, and sneaking onto local farms to photograph their horses, sheep, cows, and pigs. Over time, however, she became restless with traditional animal portraiture and gradually expanded her repertoire to include animals engaged in human activities. She began to pose her chicks and mice in human-like scenarios, photographing the scenes to use as painting models. Her skills in illustration, graphic design, and Photoshop proved essential to creating more complicated human settings for her animals, which she then could paint in a traditionally realistic style. Heffernan’s first public exhibition was at the annual Art & Soup charity event organized by Community Nursing Services in 2014. This three-day gathering of sixty artists and twenty local restaurants was ideal for introducing her artwork to the public; Heffernan used this opportunity to display paintings of mice in her new style. Her work was very well received – the only controversy, quite modest, was over whether the mice would appeal to everyone. The subsequent sales suggested that they were.

As a successful internet entrepreneur, Heffernan has experienced both the wonders of pioneering a new technology as well as some profoundly disturbing events related to the explosion of interest and investment in the field. By 2016, Heffernan’s paintings were on display in a variety of venues, including on her Facebook and Instagram pages, where she would post an image of each of her paintings as she completed them. The popularity of the images came with its own challenges, as unauthorized individuals accessed her work online and used it for their own purposes. After several unfortunate encounters with this practice, Heffernan was reluctant to allow any commercial reproduction of her work until a persistent licensing agent convinced her to hire his firm to manage the reproduction of her paintings and handle the production of prints that Heffernan approved. Three years later, she hired an international firm to manage the other products she designed, opening up a European market for her paintings.

As Heffernan’s paintings became increasingly popular, she turned her attention to a more traditional venue, submitting her work to the annual Art Renewal Center Salon competition. In 2018, her painting Gladiator was a finalist. In 2019, three of her paintings were accepted for the Salon exhibition, and in 2020, Taking Flight was included in the ARC Select 2020 exhibition at Rehs Contemporary Galleries. Heffernan subsequently held a solo show at the Musei di San Salvatore in Italy in 2022. In 2024, she returned to Taiwan for a group show.

In 2019, Heffernan’s thirst for exploring new ideas led to the creation of an organization called Workshop SLC, which began with the desire to bring artists from around the world to Salt Lake City. With art classes curtailed during COVID and the demand for her painting exploding during the same time, Heffernan decided to sell Workshop SLC. In 2021, she sold the business to her art assistant, and today, that initial enterprise has evolved into a full-fledged art center with classes, studios, and, of course, visiting artists programs. Looking forward, Heffernan will be participating in exhibitions in South Korea in 2025.

Janet Whitmore, Ph.D.


Publications

"Artist Focus”, American Art Collector, December 2019
"Pinko x Lucia Heffernan”, Telva Magazine, November 2019 Spain, 2019
"Animal Instincts" -American Art Collector, August 2019
“Artist Focus”, American Art Collector, August 2018
“Show Preview", American Art Collector, May 2018
“Anthropomorphism”, American Art Collector, November 2017
"Artist Focus”, American Art Collector, May, 2017                                                        
"Taking the Plunge”, Catalyst Magazine, August 2016
"Animal Perspective”, American Art Collector, May 2016
"Quirky Animals”, American Art Collector, March 2016
"Imaginative Animals”, American Art Collector, January 2016

Awards

2019   ARC Salon - "Apple Music" - Rehs Contemporary Gallery Award
2019   ARC Salon - "Washington Gothic" - Haynes Galleries Award
2019   ARC Salon - "El Toro" - Finalist
2019   Richeson 75 - Animals, Birds & Wildlife - "Sealrio" - Honor Award
2018   ARC Salon - "Gladiator" - Finalist

Browse by Artist
AVAILABLE WORKS
Strawberry Bliss - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
20 x 20 inches
Signed
Spring Peep - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
14 x 11 inches
Signed
Chick Stalk - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
14 x 11 inches
Signed
Sweet Tooth - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on panel
30 x 30 inches
Signed
Chickin Caesar - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
24 x 20 inches
Signed
Bad Bunny - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on panel
30 x 30 inches
Signed
Grill Chicken - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on panel
24 x 24 inches
Signed
Miss Flapper Mouse - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on panel
5 x 5 inches
Signed
Ducky Bowie - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
8 x 8 inches
Signed
When the Campers are Away - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
19 x 19 inches
Signed
Guilty Delight - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
16 x 16 inches
Signed
The Real Boss - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas on board
40 x 40 inches
Signed
Capricorn  - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
16 x 16 inches
Signed
Gemini - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
16 x 16 inches
Signed
Libra - Lucia Heffernan
Lucia Heffernan
(Born 1966)
Oil on canvas-panel
16 x 16 inches
Signed