My name is Gina Maria Rosato and I am the artist behind Route 550 Gifts and The Creative Crackerjack. I was born in Brooklyn, New York and raised in New Jersey after my dad grew weary of working in the city. My brother and I were fortunate enough to grow up wandering the beaches of the Atlantic and running through the farm fields and forests of the Garden State (yes New Jersey is really rural 😉).
I’ve spent most of my life studying the visual arts, and they’ve always been a part of my identity since I can remember. In his youth, my father was a skilled oil painter and pastel artist, but he never pursued an art career because he needed to focus on immediate employment after graduating from high school and the Vietnam war draft was nipping at his heels.
At family gatherings, I used to draw portraits of my relatives on small squares of note paper from my grandfather’s desk and enter every poster contest I could find. My high school senior class voted me as the most artistic. I went on to formally earn a BFA in Graphic Design and Illustration at Georgian Court College in New Jersey in 2001.
Longing for a simpler way of life and desperately wanting to trade my pantyhose for blue jeans, I felt the struggle to jumpstart my career after 9/11 when the world seemed to stop. About a year later, I relocated to Silverton, Colorado. I’d spent a few summers there while in college and found myself daydreaming about living there in its absence. I was smitten by the mountains, the history, and the people. This was the beginning of my love affair with the San Juan Mountains.
Looking back, I can say that this heartfelt move launched my career. I own The Creative Crackerjack, a graphic design firm that has served Silverton businesses for nearly two decades. In 2011, I also established Route 550 Gifts, a gift company where I design and sell one-of-a-kind souvenirs inspired by my small mountain hamlet.
In the midst of it all, I met my partner in crime Wyatt and we became the parents of a beautiful little girl. I’ve struggled and longed for the connection to the mother I lost also during this time, who never got to meet her granddaughter. I’m a sucker for golden yellow Tupperware, old Christmas cookie recipes, and Doo-wop music – anything that reminds me of my mother. I sometimes feel like I was born in the wrong era and I am carrying an old soul with me.
This old soul has shaped my interest in history as well as my love of nature. With a passion also for both commercial and fine art, I often find myself walking a path between the two. From my early days of study, I have been drawn to the distinct graphic styling of images with strong contrast used by both Georgia O’Keefe and Eyvind Earle. I have found my own unique style with these influences by creating thoughtful artistic designs that portray the historical wildscapes of the San Juan Mountains.