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Meet the Billings man behind the iconic Montana Women's Run T-shirt design

Posted at 8:27 AM, Feb 19, 2024
and last updated 2024-02-19 16:16:47-05

BILLINGS - Every May in downtown Billings a wave of brightly colored shirts take over the streets for the Montana Women’s Run.

It’s one of Jim Heins’ beloved days of the year. After all, he gets to see his work all around town that day, beaming almost like a billboard.

“It’s one of the reasons we love doing the Women’s Run,” he said.

At his downtown graphic design business, Hiens looks through all the art he’s designed for the Montana Women’s Run through the years. That’s 20 designs to be exact.

Jim Heins at his downtown Billings graphic design business.

And when asked where he starts? He says it’s pretty simple; he puts pencil to paper.

“Think on paper,” he said.

That’s a saying his dad used to tell him.

“Think on paper, which means, start drawing,” he said.

Born and raised in Billings, Heins’ father was an art teacher and director of the art department at Billings Senior High for many years.

So thinking on paper comes naturally. It’s also something his longtime and successful graphic design career has taught him.

The Montana Women’s Run has been around for several decades, celebrating and promoting women and wellness. What was once an event for serious athletes is now a way for women to empower others through support and comradery.

But perhaps one of the more impactful parts of the run is of course the shirts.

Mary Beth Beaulieu is one of many who still has quite a few t-shirts from the handful of races she’s done over the years.

Some like to collect them, she collects and wears them.

“They’re comfortable, they’re fun to wear,” she said.

She even has trademark memories that go along with the shirts, like the year her daughter announced she was pregnant.

“It’s important for me to go out and do it,” she said. “I am not an athlete, but this an event I can fully participate in and enjoy and it's inspiring.”

Mary Beth Beaulieu is one of many who still has quite a few t-shirts from the handful of races she’s done over the years.

She says this year she’s been inspired to get her family together again and get registered.

Heins says this year’s shirt was crafted with the hummingbird in mind, something he describes as a quick and agile creature, perfect for a race.

Then of course he combined the iconic Montana state flower, the Bitterroot, on the shirt.

All ideas, he says, really harness what the event is about.

“It’s about women, it’s about wellness and vitality,” he said. “It’s a race, so there’s movement.”

And you won’t miss those brightly colored maroon shirts on race day, perhaps even seeing them for years beyond the event.

The Montana Women’s Run is always set for Mother’s Day weekend. This year the race is Sunday, May 11.