Tired of the corporate rat race, Kim Sly decided to take her passion for illustration and transform it into a career. Her products now include graphic tops for children, illustration prints for all ages, and a custom line of paper goods. We recently sat down (well, virutally) with Kim to learn more about her inspirations, her studio, and how we can be like her and quit working for the man!
When I look at all of your prints on our Albie Design retail page, the fact that each city has its own very specific color palette jumps out at me. Can you please give us an example of a city or two and what inspired the color choices you made?
I don’t normally start out with a color palette in mind, but typically it evolves as I build each city in a sketch. In the case of NY– I knew I wanted a yellow cab driving up to the city, and I love the image of NY in the Fall, so I decided to use yellow & brown as my two main colors.. Also, as I strive to stay true to my mission to make “fun & personal” art I want to keep the colors bright and vibrant to reflect each city. For example to me San Francisco is one of the most colorful/happy cities in so many ways, and nothing says “happy” more than red & yellow together! My hope is people don’t take my art too seriously. I’ve had people say to me “oh the mountain in the back of your Portland print really shouldn’t be so big”….typically my response is I am not trying to create a map here ….:-)That being said, I do try to make each city recognizable at a glance, therefore they usually end up mostly true in building/landmark placement.
Similarly, you feature a few iconic buildings/landforms/landmarks that really just nail the character and personality of each city. Do you start with a bunch and narrow it down? What is your process for showcasing each city?
Great question, it takes me several months to complete each city for that very reason. I typically start with many hours/weeks of research which includes, combing the web for images & maps to reference and find inspiration. Also, if I am not really familiar with a city, I reach out to people who have requested that city in the past and ask them for help. After the research, I play around with perspective. For example with Chicago I went back and forth on the perspective because there are so many amazing landmarks/buildings in that city, and there is no way to capture them all in one perspective without it becoming more of a map print. I landed on the river perspective, as I just LOVE how the river winds through so much brilliant architecture and I knew I wanted to include a few of my favorite Chicago buildings (Wrigley & Corn Cob). I truly do strive for a unique & fresh perspective -I think it’s pretty easy for people to find good silhouette cityscape art, but I wanted to create something with a bit more of each city’s unique personality.
What is your studio like?
My workspace is far from ideal. It currently is a guest room/play room/laundry room/office/studio. The only benefit is that allows me to do my work while still making sure that my kids aren’t coloring all over my couch!
How do you break out of a creative block?
I spend a lot of time on various design blogs, and I am constantly amazed and inspired by how many talented artists and designers there are out there. We are lucky to live in a day and age where there are so many resources and avenues in which to share our work & learn about other artists on a global level. Just 20 years ago we were somewhat restricted to libraries and local artists , but now we can learn & be inspired by “real time” artists that are changing the face of design/art today. At times it’s overwhelming, but I think this emerging design online community has really helped many artists find their platform in which to thrive (including myself).
What things can you NOT live without in a workspace ?
For me, I can’t live without an inspiration board. I have a large cork board that is covered with images that inspire me.
Please tell us about your latest series of prints!
Inspired by my own love for all things food & drink, I wanted to make some fun and modern prints for the kitchen or casual dining area. Committed to staying true to my mission I am hoping to create art that is fun & personal for every age, simply put I hope it makes you smile.
Here’s a peek at the beautiful dining space that helped inspire the new prints:
Do you have any advice for those who want to take the plunge into starting their own design business?
In the words of my former employer Nike, “JUST DO IT”! I can’t tell you how many people close to me said, just wait to do this until you kids get older and are in school, it will be so much easier than juggling being a mom to a baby and a toddler and starting your own design business. There is not doubt in my mind that it would be easier if my kids were in school and I could do this more as a full-time job. In fact, after the birth of my second son I almost went returned to my “real job” as a corporate recruiter where I would have had full-time daycare, and put this on hold for a few more years. However, because of a series of major events that happened in my life I decided life is too short to not just go for it! I know that sounds nice and fluffy, and in actuality there is a lot of planning and logistics that need to happen before anyone “quits” their day job, but for us we saw an opportunity for me to pursue my passion, and stay home with our children while they are young. In short, it was a calculated life decision based off of one of my favorite poster saying’s “LIVE WHAT YOU LOVE”!!
Thanks so much to Kim for sharing her work, her workspace, and her advice with us! Click here to shop Albie Design.