Welcome to my monthly interview feature! I’m so excited to be interviewing all the fabulous artists, illustrators and designers I’ve meet over the years (both personally and virtually!) and sharing their artwork and experiences here on Bird Meets Worm. Look for a new interview on the first Tuesday of every month.
This month I’m super excited to be chatting it up with the fabulous Illustrator & Designer, Kim Hawes. I’m a big fan of Kim’s delightful artwork! I first discovered her work while taking Lilla Roger’s Make Art That Sells class and then had the pleasure of meeting Kim at Surtex awhile back. Kim went to the Cleveland Institute of Art where she received her BFA in Illustration. After college she worked as an in-house designer for branding & package design firms. You've probably seen a lot of her work and characters on products that you use on a daily basis. After working in the corporate world, she decided to branch out into her own freelance business. She now works with her agent Cinnamon Joe Studio, selling prints for greeting cards, fabric, and scrapbooking. You can view more of her artwork here! And you can follow her on Facebook here!
|Up, up, and away to woodland wonderful!|
Q: You are a TRUE super star when it comes to creating artwork specifically for kids! Fantastic characters! Fun typography! Totally on-trend topics! Dish with us about your influences, inspiration and overall approach when creating artwork for kids.
A: Big influences to my art are my children and the people around me. When I sit down to start a project I often think about what my son would get a kick out of seeing, or what I, as a mother, woman, and consumer would like to see on a product. I sometimes will do small audits of what I see trending in the market place and then brainstorm ideas of how I can give it that little unexpected delight to make it my own. I love creating art that I know can make a person smile or bring some delight to their day.
|Love this friendly, little llama on pink, pink, pink!!|
Q: You spent nearly 10 years working as a designer—both in-house and freelance—on multi-billion dollar brands. Tell us a bit about what was fabulous and what was not-so-fabulous about the experience, and how it has shaped you as a freelance Illustrator—from both the artist and the businesswoman perspective.
A: As an in-house designer for a branding and design company, it was great working with other like-minded artists and being involved in a project from start to finish. I had opportunities to travel around the globe to learn about different cultures. It also taught me to work fast, and in a world where time is money that skill is very helpful. The drawbacks of working as an in-house designer were that you are ultimately confined to what the client envisions. You may feel that a character should look a certain way, but they want it a different way. You have to detach yourself somewhat from the art because it was never really yours to begin with. One reason that I love freelancing is now I can choose the variety in my work. If I feel like drawing unicorns one day and strawberries the next, I can because I’m in charge. I love having the freedom to draw what is inspiring me that day and the flexibility to try new things and push my abilities. Along with the flexibility of my work I also love the flexibility of my schedule! It’s so great to be able to work the hours that work best for my young family and me. The drawbacks, I have found, are making sure you stay disciplined. I am a horrible procrastinator and can easily be distracted by random things if I don’t have deadlines. I try and make weekly goals for myself so I stay on track and make sure that I’m getting done what needs to be done. Another draw back to not working in-house is you don’t quite have the control you otherwise would have getting your art onto a product or even simply the insight that your art has made it onto a product. When I was in-house I knew when things I worked on would show up so I could go find it on the shelf. Now that I freelance and have an agent, a lot of times I’ll have prints purchased, but I don’t know if/or when they’ll end up on a product. So I’m often roaming the aisles at different shops, just to see if I’ll see any of my work.
|Little ghosties say, "BOO!"|
Q: Give us the scoop on your MOST favorite illustration projects: one from your past and one from your present.
A: Hmmm…favorite project from my past? I would say I have a soft spot for my senior thesis my last year in college. I went to the Cleveland Institute of Art and majored in illustration, and for my capstone project I illustrated a children’s book. I’m a bit of a nerd for musicals so I adapted the musical “Once Upon a Mattress” into a children’s book. I had a lot of fun sketching the ideas for spreads and figuring out how the story would unfold. Looking at the work now I would totally redo the whole book, but I really enjoyed the process and how I took a large project from start to finish. As for a project from my present that I really like, I would say creating art for my agent. I know it’s not one particular project, but I do really enjoy getting to create a variety of art on a daily basis. It’s fun to learn new techniques through classes online and continuing to push my style and create my ‘look’ without constraints, which can be set by clients.
|Tea time! Now all we need are little cakes!|
Q: As a freelance Illustrator & Designer, juggling 2 kiddos and an art career, in what ways to do seek balance in your life? (As a fellow Illustrator Mama—this is one of my favorite questions!!)
A: Ooh, this one is a toughie! Right now things are really off kilter. We are currently in the process of moving, and will shortly be living with my parents for a month before our new home is ready, so there isn’t a lot of balance at the moment. When we aren’t in the middle of moving homes, I really try to make sure I have time for my family and myself. Having a ‘create your own schedule’ I try to make sure that my evenings and weekends are open for family time. Although there is the occasional project that takes my attention some evenings, I try to make sure they don’t happen too often. My house is often left a mess with unfolded laundry and a dirty kitchen, but that’s just this phase of life that we are in with having a 3 year old and an 8 month old running around the house. Creating time for myself is a bit of a challenge these days as well, but I squeeze it in when I can. When I can I’ll sneak in 20 minutes here and there and take a nice soak in the bathtub. I’ll close my eyes and pretend I’m on a beach for a few minutes before my son busts in the door and says he wants to take a bath while stripping down naked. I also have to give a huge shout out to my awesome husband. It really is a team effort to keep things going and when I have to get work done, he is there to give me the time to focus on my work.
|If you eat your vegetables, then you can go to Treatsville!|
Q: What advice would you give fellow freelance illustrators on the following topics: 1) self promotion 2) trade shows 3) following trends?
A: I still feel like I am a novice in this area. I recently joined an artist collective, the Sunshine Syndicate, to help with promoting my art. We often share tips, critique art, and inspire new ideas as well as share the task of promoting our work. It’s a full time job staying on top of social media, blogs, twitter feeds etc., and having others to assist in the process makes it less overwhelming.
For trade shows, I think they are great to go to. I’ve been to Printsource as a buyer, and Surtex as a viewing artist and I loved both! If you are able I would say definitely go. You can meet so many talented people and make lots of connections. I met my agent, Cinnamon Joe Studio, at Surtex as well as many other artists that I had met online. It was great meeting them in person and making those invaluable in-person connections. Most of the ladies in my collective I met online and then in person at Surtex.
|Ooo! Guess who is going to Blueprint this month?! Very exciting!|
Q: Describe your most perfect day.
A: Oh, the possibilities! …how to narrow it down to one thing…? I would say the most perfect day would begin with a full night of sleep and then waking up around 8:00ish. I’d have breakfast in bed and the kids would be dressed and ready for the day. We’d go somewhere fun, maybe the amusement park, or zoo, or the local park. Then around 4pm I’d get a nice power nap in. After the nap, my hubby and I would go get dinner while the kids are with a sitter, then we’d go see a movie of my choice. If I could squeeze in a massage that would be nice too, but that could be pushing it a bit. J
Thank you so much, Kim, for catching up with us here at Bird Meets Worm! We love your fabulous artwork and can’t wait to see what you create next!