AH: Kristine, did you always know you wanted to be an artist? What were some other professions you considered?
KL: I went through a slew of things. In high school I wanted to be a flight attendant until I realized you're basically a "waitress in the sky" & I never dreamed about waiting tables ;)
I considered nursing until I passed out cold during an explanation about trauma patients & the reason behind "Recessa Annie's" nose tubes.
My dream for many years was to be a News Anchor and I studied Communications my 1st year of college. I've always enjoyed making art and eventually realized that was what interested me most. I went to school for fine art and even then my work was often critiqued as being too commercial!
AH: How many years were you an Art Director and what gave you the courage to take a chance on freelance illustration?
KL: I started as an art buyer and did data base entry for a big Pepsi account at an ad agency. I got that after reading that finding an art buyer was like "finding a needle in a haystack." I made a small painting of a needle in a stack, crated it and FedExed it to Tracy-Locke located in Dallas, Texas. I was called immediately after they received it! After a couple of years I left and came back to art direct which I did for about 6 years. I knew I had to go out on my own after becoming much more interested in producing the art myself. Everything else became drudgery.
AH: Were your parents supportive of your choice to pursue such an unpredictable career path?
KL: They're still nervous about my career as a freelance illustrator, but never discouraged me about art in general.
AH: What was your 1st step to landing an illustration job?
KL: I started local on small projects, paid for a mailing list to expand the potential for editorial work, printed promotional cards and sent them out. I attended my 1st Illustration Conference ICON 3 in PA in 2003. There I met the editor for Harper Collins and ended up creating a book cover for them :) I slowly built up work and started to get more jobs once I began compiling my own, more targeted mailing list.
AH: What is your philosophy of life and do you think that is reflected in your work?
KL: I would have to say "Passion". Once I discover something I'm interested in I become completely immersed in that subject. Most of my friends know about my love for Paris. After my 1st visit, I began collecting as much as I could that related to it and read everything I could get my hands on. I was hooked on Hemingway for awhile. I become fascinated by certain people. Hunter S. Thompson was another one, think I've read all of his letters, which speak more about him than any of his books. I was obsessed with Andy Warhol for some time. I also have a thing for 1960s vintage children's books. Fortunately, this habit contributes to the way I work-- if I get a cool assignment I dive right in, research and become very involved in it!
AH: Which artists/illustrators have influenced you the most? Do you have any favorites?
KL: Oh Yeah! Raoul Dufy, Ludwig Bemelmans, Margaret Bloy Graham, Roger Duvoisin
AH: How did your personal style develop?
KL: To some degree, in an accidental way. My work started out very flat and on a particular assignment I began layering images to give pieces more "life". My rather simple style became more playful! My lettering style, which I now do a great deal of, also came about working on a project that required it.
AH: Whose career would you most like to emulate?
KL: Ludwig Bemelmans, probably because he experienced some struggle, worked at a hotel, but lead an artistic life. His lifestyle was about art. He's like a kindred spirit in that he wrote and illustrated, had a love of animals, and had a cafe :)
*Love her letterpress promotional card*
AH: What do you find most rewarding about about illustrating? What do you think would surprise people about the profession? What is most difficult about it?
KL: The variety of projects and different challenges are rewarding. Over time, I've gained more control and confidence. I enjoy the give & take with art directors instead of simply following direction. I have something to offer projects and can help with the concepts.
People would be surprised that 90%of the job is chasing work! There's also a lot of business, paperwork and contracts to deal with.
Most difficult? Same as above ;) Really, how to handle the down time. I'm very good at time management on a project, it's the time between them that is tricky.
AH: What do you enjoy or appreciate about where you live in Montclair, NJ?
KL: Montclair is a liberal town, intelligent people live here and we have a lot of writers and artists. I've become more involved in the community, teaching craft-oriented workshops at the Montclair Art Museum which I enjoy!
I can recommend Raymond's where we had lunch :D
AH: Do you think living so close to a major metropolitan city like NYC influences your style? Where would you live if money were no object?
KL: Hell Yes! I would live in Paris, but sometimes think New York City and/or on an island-- I love the ocean, scuba diving... I'd go exotic or not-- I love Martha's Vineyard and Nantucket :')
AH: What country would you most like to visit that you've never been to?
KL: Many places, I'd like to see Amsterdam, visit Barcelona with you... I recently became very interested in Copenhagen also.
AH: I know you've developed several book dummies for children's books. What do you think your stories offer that you haven't yet seen, if anything? or are they simply fabulous enough in and of themselves?!
KL: I don't quite fit the current trends, I'd be considered "old school" in style and storyline. Mine tend to be involved with "old world" themes, moral tales, friendship, probably because I collect so many from the '60s
AH: I loved looking at all of the older books you have. Can you share some of your favorites? vintage and current?
KL: My favorites include the Benjy books by Margaret Bloy Graham, Our Veronica by Roger Duvoisin (below), Lemonade Serenade by Don Madden (below), Lovable Lyle by Bernard Waber.
Currently, style-wise my faves include Oliver Jeffers' The Incredible Book Eating Boy, Scritch Scratch by Miriam Moss, illustrated by Delphine Durand, I love Polka Bats and Octopus Slacks by Calef Brown. I particularly enjoy random poems he writes and posts on facebook-- they're hilarious!!
AH: What is your process like for personal artwork vs. a paying illustration job?
KL: My personal paintings are easier for me to jump into while more forethought and sketching is involved for commercial jobs.
KL: *The greatest lesson I ever learned has been that the Sketch is Paramount!
For years I fought doing them, tried to "sell" my loose, ready-to-go style on the phone. I can't remember which client it was who just wouldn't go for it. The sketching really forced me to think about composition. I put myself in their shoes, too. Art directors want to know exactly what they're getting. It's a great "safety" and the client deserves to see how it will turn out. I learned just how beneficial it is to the artist in the process!!*
AH: Do you have any favorite projects? Does the best work come out of the most pleasant experiences or the more difficult ones?
KL: My favorite project recently has been this tote bag for Central Market, a high end grocery store chain in Texas. It was fun to do, but required sooooo many sketches because the foods they wanted on it kept changing. The end product is rewarding because it's an actual bag to be used. The same thing applies to book covers like the one above for Creative Girl by Katharine Sise. It's nice to see my work on an object to be held and in that case, read :)
Above is a logo Kristine designed for Claire Douglas The Green Stork is a website about maintaining a non toxic environment for little ones :)
*KL: My favorite day ever as an illustrator was when Vanity Fair called (had worked with them couple times) and they asked me to meet them in NYC about a promotion they were doing on Madison Ave. that would involve large banners with stylized figures. They sent me out to take reference photos of fashionable people on the street, in buildings, in traffic and at Barneys. It was a nice, but cold day in late fall and I didn't even have my camera with me. I had to buy a disposable one, as well as a jacket and gloves! It was exciting taking the pictures and talking to various people on the street about the project. I went home and sketched out the banner designs for VF all night. Pure Fun!
AH: What advice would you give someone just starting out in the field?
KL: Self motivation is essential. You're not just painting cute pictures all day. If you need structure and a boss to tell you what to do, then it's not for you. You're basically trading security for great freedom & lifestyle that's also filled with uncertainty. There is an excitement to it, knowing the situation can change any minute :D
AH: What made you consider licensing your images to manufacturers in addition to doing editorial work?
KL: I've always had people say my work should be on cards and other products. With licensing you get to show your personal voice, do what you most want to do and hopefully see it on a tangible 3 dimensional item. Plus, I love paper products!!
AH: Royalties can't be bad either ;)
Below is K's beloved 17 and a half year old Miss Freckles basking in the sunlight :)
When asked what she admires in a person, this statement stood out most--
"I admire people who create the world they want to be part of, instead of waiting for things to come to them!"
That's a tough one ;)
Finally, here is a miscellaneous list of Kristine's Top Picks;
*Blogs she checks everyday-- The Sartorialist and The Superficial (because you're ugly)
Of course she reads Blipadee religiously ;)
*Movies she can watch again & again-- Amelie, With 6 You Get Eggroll, Rear Window
*Most influential book-- The Long-Winded Lady by Maeve Brennan
*Clothing Store-- J. Crew
* Products-- Olay Regenerist, Revlon lipsticks
* Handbag-- Longchamps
*Longest celeb crush-- Tom Brokaw (about 15 years)
*Briefest-- Wolf Blitzer
*One I knew about-- William Hurt
*Musician-- Eddie Vedder
* Tennis Player-- Carlos Moya
*Hottest-- Jeff Bridges
There are more, but I'll save it for another post!
Strong coffee Hearty red wine olives animals of every kind! vintage children's books water towers (slight obsession) watching people on the subway underbites on little dogs cats with an attitude, like my tortie! walking in the rain searching for sea glass at the beach Cape Cod Paris Handbags Shoes Watching people's handwriting in movies Catching an anchor person yawn or sneeze (rare) playing Old LPs on my record player---especially bossa nova and jazz Men's hands Wingtips and Fedoras Candlelit rooms Lilacs Books with a clay coat varnish...they feel great in the hands Old ledgers Seeing squirrels having fun---and avoiding cars Old gates Patina on just about anything silver and gold Craftsmanship capers a new tube of toothpaste wood floors new assignments
Kristine lived in Dallas from 89-92, then 94-2003, Austin in between, then Massachusetts and then back to NJ. Explains it all ;D Click here to view her portfolio
Hope you've enjoyed this, my first Featured Artist profile!
Have a great week :)
**Please click on archive posts (upper right column) to view other recently published posts or check out some of the oldies but goodies :) Thanks!**