ARTIST: KELSEY KILCREASE
WHY DO YOU CALL AUSTIN HOME
After I graduated college, my boyfriend Nathan and I both found jobs in Austin so we made the move from Denton, TX. Little did I know that I would meet some of my best friends here and decide to build my own business. Austin is a great place to create and collaborate with people- and to top it off, it really reminds me of El Paso (where my heart resides). The tacos don't hurt either...
FAVORITE SONG/ARTIST/ALBUM OR SPARK OF CREATIVITY
This is a good question... These are my go to's:
Song: "Let Her Dance" by Bobby Fuller Four
Artist: City and Colour
Album: "Strange Trails" by Lord Huron
BIGGEST DEBATE OF ALL: COFFEE or TEA, BE SPECIFIC ;)
Coffee in the AM, Tea after 12pm
And if I could get an IV drip of caffeine you'd better believe I would...
WHO DO YOU FOLLOW FOR INSTAGRAM INSPIRATION
UGH ANOTHER GOOD QUESTION. Instagram is so great for creatives because it's a feast for your eyeballs. I'd have to say I really love/never get tired of looking at @staceyrozich and @ashleylongshoreart 's instagram feed. They're just two boss ladies doin' the damn thing.
GO TO MID-DAY SNACK or ROUTINE FOR CREATIVE FUEL
I eat an ungodly amount of hard boiled eggs and should own stock in Topo Chico.
WHERE DO YOU DESIGN BEST? EX: HOME, STUDIO, NATURE, ETC.
I work best at home and typically at night- although morning Kelsey hates me for it.
WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO BE AN ARTIST
I had a professor in college who told us that not all of us would end up being artists and that the defining quality to determine who would pursue art would be that we would need to create or we would die. It sounded dramatic at the time, but she was so right. Art is the one thing that absolutely sets me on fire and I have an innate need for it. When I'm not creating, I'm thinking about creating. In the off chance that I'm not making art or thinking about making art, I'm miserable.
Being an artist is not easy- it comes with endless rejection, criticism, self doubt, and a ton of work. However, living my truth and pursuing my passion makes it worthwhile. Finding other artists who motivate and inspire you helps, too. I work with a lot of talented people, and there are three ladies in particular who inspire me daily. Together we founded an art collective and encourage one another to keep growing and making work that we love. Finding them has made the world feel a lot less lonely.
WHAT HAS BEEN THE MOST EXCITING MOMENT OF YOUR CRAFT
I would have to say planning and executing my first solo show. I've always had this dream in the back of my mind that I would have a solo show somewhere downtown in a big city. It always seemed like kind of a pipe dream, and once I graduated college I sort of went on a creative hiatus. It wasn't until about a year or two ago that I sort of slapped myself and said "Wait, why don't you make this real? Make it happen!"
Once I did that, I really got to work and started painting every spare second I had- whether it was at midnight or if I had to wake up at 5am, I did it. I started applying to shows and decided to participate in the East and West Austin Studio Tours. After West Austin Studio Tour, I met the owner of the gallery Art.Work through a friend, and they just so happened to be looking for artists interested in doing solo shows. That was about 7 months ago, so I've just been working like crazy preparing for it. I've been making new paintings, working on advertisements, coordinating with sponsors, etc. As someone who has had trouble committing to finishing projects, seeing this show come to fruition has been huge. Now that it's almost over, I'm a little sad but more so excited. Now I'm asking myself, "What's next?"
HOW DO YOU MAKE SURE YOUR BRAND STANDS OUT
I make work that makes me happy. When I was in school I had this notion that I needed to be a photorealistic painter. The problem with that is that I naturally have a very illustrative style, so I was constantly battling with that and trying to make work that I thought would be better but was just making me miserable. Once I embraced my own mark and stopped being so critical of myself, I started to enjoy making work again. Personally, I feel like brands stand out when you can see the artist's heart in the work- it just doesn't seem contrived.
I also try to be as transparent as possible and show my personality. I like to paint things that make me laugh or I paint my family when I'm missing them. Doing that allows me to bring some vulnerability to my work and reminds me why I'm making work. I'm just painting my heart.
WHO HAS HAD THE MOST CREATIVE INFLUENCE ON YOUR LIFE
I'm a lucky gal because I have had a lot of creative influence in my life. My parents have always encouraged me to be creative and provided me with a life that allowed me to pursue art. From giving me my very first paint set as a kid to my college education in painting, they've always been nourishing that creativity.
Nathan has been a huge creative influence as well. He's a designer and having his input and knowledge has really helped to shape my aesthetic. For the longest time I had it in my head that I could either be an artist or an illustrator, there's no in between. It wasn't until I met him that I realized I could do all of it. He's introduced me to a new world of design, typography, commercial illustration, you name it. He's constantly reminding me of my worth and encouraging me when I'm filled with self doubt (we all have our days).
And of course, there are my dear friends Laura, Mary, and Erin (the ladies in my art collective, Geophyte). They're so inspiring- they have unbelievable skill sets and interesting ideas. Being around them always makes me want to just get to work.
Lastly, my cousin Nikki is someone who has always influenced my creativity. We are close in age and our family is very tight knit. We've both been drawing and painting and making tiny little shoebox doll houses for as long as I can remember. She's an artist also and her work is based on our family. I've always felt a strong connection to her that I can't quite explain, and I love sharing new work and ideas with her.
Whew, that's a lot of people. Like I said, I'm a lucky gal.
HOW HAS SOCIAL HELPED YOUR BRAND
Facebook has been great because I've gotten portrait commissions just based on customers posting about their portrait and then their friends reach out to me- so it's essentially been free advertising.
Instagram has been huge for my brand because it's the best platform for visual artists. I'll confess, I'm a serial hashtagger... But once I started using them, I noticed that I'd get a few more followers, and every now and then I'd get a sale from a new follower. My instagram is still in it's baby stage, but I'm learning what works and what doesn't work. I try to be observant of other accounts and apply things that I like.
WHAT OTHER ARTISTS HAVE YOU LOVED COLLABORATING WITH, IF ANY
Laura Romaine, Mary Wendel, and Erin Wendel. Can I brag on these ladies any more? We've curated about three shows together now and I've looked forward to it every single time. We all have very driven work ethics and similar aesthetics, so we work really well together. Our motto is, "we always win the potluck"- meaning, we always give it our best, every. damn. time. Even if it means we have a few meltdowns along the way...
HOW IMPORTANT IS SHOPPING LOCAL TO YOU
Super important! I didn't really think about it until I started painting for a living, but every time you purchase something local or support a small business, you are encouraging that person and funding a dream. You're taking a chance on that person, and to them, every chance is HUGE.
HOW HAS THE AUSTIN COMMUNITY SUPPORTED YOU
One of the things that makes Austin so great is it's inclusivity and willingness to support small businesses and locally made items. I have my prints in a few local stores and any time someone tags me on instagram after buying something, I'm reminded that I'm a part of that community.
WOULD YOU BE OPEN TO A DESIGN COLLAB WITH A LOCAL AUSTIN ARTIST
WHAT IS ONE THING YOU WISH PEOPLE KNEW ABOUT YOUR ILLUSTRATIONS
How happy they make me.
AUSTIN LOCAL INSIDER RECOMMENDATIONS
MUST-SEE RECOMMENDATION(S) FOR THOSE TRAVELING TO AUSTIN
Oh man, I'm terrible at this because I'm a pretty big hermit. For neat gifts, check out A-Town. Eat as many tacos as possible- I recommend Veracruz, but it's really hard to find a bad taco here. The bats at Congress are pretty gnarly if you haven't experienced that before...
One of my favorite things to do is drive down Congress st at night towards the capitol when the trees on the sidewalk are all lit up. I'm not sure if this is a seasonal thing or an all year thing... I told you I'm a hermit.
FAVORITE LOCAL FOOD TRUCK
Veracruz for the migas tacos. Hands down!
FAVORITE LOCAL CURATED BOUTIQUE
I love A-Town. They have SO much weirdly wonderful stuff! Any time someone asks me where to buy a gift or a souvenir, I tell them that A-Town is where it's at. PLUS they carry my prints, so maybe I love them even more.
FAVORITE LOCAL COFFEE SHOP(S)
Epoch and Summer Moon- not only is their coffee/tea delicious, they're great places to people watch.