Washington-based artist Paula Strawn makes a living bringing joy to families everywhere by painting babies’ corrective helmets with fantastic, customized designs. The helmets are used to help infants who have flat head syndrome, a common condition in which babies’ heads appear flat. While the condition is treatable, most corrective helmets are plain and white. According to the artist, many people become uncomfortable and avoid eye contact when they see a baby wearing a helmet. With Strawn’s artistic creations, however, parents and infants receive compliments and curious questions instead of pitying or worried looks. She says, “Often, it creates an opportunity to have a conversation and explain what the helmet is for and that it is not a scary situation.”
Strawn painted her first helmet as a favor for a friend, whose granddaughter had to wear a head-shaping helmet. Her friend said, “Please paint this ugly thing!” and so the artist did. When the baby’s doctor saw Strawn’s beautiful creation, he urged her to put business cards and fliers in his office. Since then, business has boomed; Strawn now runs Lazardo Art, painting and selling babies’ helmets to families all over the United States.
Over the course of 12 years, Strawn has decorated over 1,200 helmets for babies. The customized designs are varied and unique, depicting everything from sports logos to beloved book characters to famous artworks. The artist sees the helmets as more of a labor of love than a business. “I can hardly call this work,” she says,”I am paid to have fun.”