So You Want to Be … An Illustrator

I’m not the only auntie who wants to share some hard-earned career advice. Meet Kristin, an illustrator who is combining her passions for art and service into a satisfying career. At her day job and with her freelance projects through her company, Flair Koncepts, Kristin is finding her voice and making her mark – both as an artist and a young woman. As a mentor, she encourages other young women to overcome barriers while making a difference. I love her work but am most impressed with how she defines success and her cure for the fear we all feel sometimes. I dare you not to feel inspired.So You Want To Be An Illustrator 2

Tell us about your career path. What did you study in school, or what professional training do you have and what jobs led you to your current one.

Often drawing on the walls as a toddler, my flair for art and design developed at an early age. Voted most artistic at Ensley Magnet High School, I honed my passion and decided to pursue a career in graphic design. After graduating high school, I attended Samford University where I received my B. S. in Graphic Design. Upon completing my undergraduate studies, I became a graphic design intern at Leading Edge Institute, where I found my voice and developed a passion for service and leadership. Thereafter, I landed my first paying gig as a graphic designer at a local printing company. Then I moved on to join Girl Scouts of North-Central Alabama as creative manager. I currently work at UAB’s School of Medicine as an art manager.

How have your passions for service and leadership influenced your career path? Tell us about your volunteer work?

Screen Shot 2015-12-07 at 9.31.37 PMLife didn’t turn out as I expected after college. My yellow brick road did not lead to a 30k job with a corner office and a coffee mug that read, “I hate Mondays.” My road led to greater growth and development at Leading Edge Institute (LEI) where I encountered new and exciting challenges. Before I got involved with LEI, political issues, poverty and injustice simply frustrated and enraged me.  It wasn’t the reality of these injustices, but sense that I was powerless that left me feel helpless.

“The most common way people give up power is by thinking that they don’t have any.”

Under the direction of Suzanne Martin, I found my voice and learned how to use it. My yellow brick road did not take me to Oz, but taught me about my heart, my courage and my mind and how using each, I can change the face of leadership.

So You Want To Be An IllustratorAfter LEI, I went on to work and volunteer at a few nonprofits. Daily I live by the principle, “Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Do you have a full-time job or do you freelance?

I currently work full-time as an Art Manager at UAB’s School of Medicine and manage my company Flair Koncepts.

Tell us how you found your voice as an illustrator.

I stumbled back on to my love for drawing by accident. After losing my job, I was up all night filled with anxiety and anger. My thoughts were tormenting me. I needed to escape, to express my feelings in a healthy way. I was tired of hiding in the darkness of my soul so I decide to paint my feelings. I painted a self-portrait titled “Purple Tears.” I posted it on social media. A former classmate offered to purchase the painting. My first thought was why do you want this terrible rendering of me. A day later a dear friend asked why I didn’t sell my art and commissioned a self-portrait. And I thought why the hell not. Painting beats job-hunting any day.

IllustratorWhat’s your favorite medium?

Watercolor and Indian Ink

What do you do to spark creativity and hone your skills as an illustrator?

I listen to my fears, wants and desires. I am also inspired by the grace and elegance of old Hollywood and tranquility of nature.

Can you tell us what a typical day is like?

I start my day around 1am with reflection, journaling and practicing gratitude. After deciding my top priority for the day, I move on to freelance work or painting. I go back to bed. I head to work at 9am. After work I find time for self-care whether it’s Pure Barre or taking a nap. I love naps!

So You Want To Be An IllustratorWhere do you see this career taking you? Who were your role models when you were considering your career?

I hope to sale more prints, complete three collections and land a big client/contact in 2016. I would love to be in the ranks of Debra Cartwright, Katie Rodgers (Paper Fashion) and Sharee Miller (Coilyand Cute). These ladies are amazing watercolor artists who have turned their hobbies into their dream job via Instagram and blogging. I admire their tenacity, style and techniques.

How do you (and you alone) define success in this career? How will you know you’ve “made it?”

I’ve made it already because I had the courage to start. Anytime I dump my thoughts onto paper I have succeeded. The beauty of it all is I do not paint or draw to make money. I paint and draw out of sheer pleasure. I’ve learned to channel and express my feelings in a meaningful way. If someone wants to purchase my artwork afterwards even better.

What is the best thing about being an illustrator?

Making people smile by bringing to life their ideas and concepts.

What’s the suckiest part of your job?

Making changes to artwork.

What stresses you out about your job and how do you deal with it?Screen Shot 2015-12-09 at 8.56.28 AM

Having to wake up before 9am. I deal with it by taking naps throughout the day and working out. Pure Barre is my go to for fitness and to reset my mind.

Any advice for young women interested becoming an illustrator?

Life advice: Others opinion can’t pay your bills. Your parents, friends, peers and enemies views or convictions do not define. You are not the number on the scale. Nothing can contain your greatest. You are enough. You have done the best you can do with what you have. Do not be so hard on yourself. Celebrate every accomplishment even the little ones.

Career Advice: Find mentors and pay for a life/career coach. It’s worth it!

Action cures fear. Believe in yourself. Doubt your doubt. Just get your work out there. It will land in the right hands. And always be true to yourself and aesthetic. Create what makes you happy.

Want to connect with Kristin? Check her out on Instagram and Facebook.

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