Kimberly, welcome to Reprehensible Digest. Tell the audience a little about yourself – your background, where you're from, what you specialize in as an artist.
I'm 45 years old and from the state of Texas. No, we aren't all cowboys – or cowgirls – haha. I was born in a small town called Bay City located about 30 minutes from the Gulf Coast. My parents moved to Houston where I grew up until the fourth grade, then moved back to Bay City where I continued on until graduating from high school. While in high school, I took a two year cosmetology course where I took and passed the state board exam. I received my license to be a hairstylist and esthtician. After graduating I worked in one of the town's most elite and well known hair salons for about a year. I then decided it was time to do something with my art skills, so I moved to Colorado where I received my degree in Graphic Design and Visual Communications. As I do specialize in logos, brochures, and all other design campaigns for corporations and clients in need of my skills.
How long have you been working as an artist and when did you realize this was your calling? Also, are you a freelance artist or do you work full-time?
Oh since birth, haha. Just kidding. Although I do believe since I was about three years old. I was the kid who loved drawing on the walls at home. I have always loved drawing, painting, etc. I grew up in the age of having encyclopedias, so I love to delve deeper into books as I find great interest in learning new things. One day I came across this exotic bird while looking through the book. I became very fascinated with this bird. In fact, seems a bit silly of me, but I was so captivated that I literally painted that bird in several different colors. I then went on to post them on my wall in my bedroom. So yes, I have always felt a strong desire to create. Once I get started in these inspirational and creative endeavors, there's no turning back for me. As for question two, I am currently a freelance artist. I create my everyday illustrations for my business. However, I also take on graphic design jobs for clients as well.
Did you study art in school, namely college or university?
Yes, I studied art in grade school. I got more into the art program in middle school around sixth grade. That's where I had my first experience with paper mache. I fell in love with it and found it to be a very fun, yet messy, and most interesting experience. I was also a member of the art club during each year of high school – and loved it. Two years after graduating high school, I went on to attend the Colorado Institute of Art in downtown Denver. That's where I studied and received my degree in Graphic Design and Visual Communications.
Was your family supportive of your art dreams growing up?
Definitely. I am very close to both my parents. My father didn't work in the field as an artist, but he was an artist, as he did know how to draw very well. I remember when I was about four years old he taught me how to draw a flower. My Mother also played a huge role in my love for Art. She is a very intelligent woman. She was a teacher but became a stay-at-home mom when I was born. I was very fortunate and grateful to have always had my mother around. She has always been there and taught me wisely, guided me in everything during my upbringing.
However, I certainly didn't have everything handed to me in life. I've had to work hard for what I wished to accomplish. It wasn't always easy for me. I've had my share of struggles along the way. My mother is the one who used to take me and my sisters to art museums, musicals, international festivals, plays, storytime at the library. This helped inspire my love for the arts. So yes, my parents both played a huge role in my love and desire to become an artist.
By no means is your work Reprehensible, but it is certainly magical and unique. What is your means of inspiration and how do you determine which colors to apply?
Thank you for your lovely compliment. I am inspired by many things – things in my everyday atmosphere, whether it be people, objects, plants, animals... I'm inspired by things that I love, to things that are unusual or different. I must say I dislike the feeling of being bored, so if I find something that intrigues me or holds my interest for a longer period of time, then it surely must be inspiring to me.
For those who know me well, I am an emotional being. I am not afraid to express my emotions. I gladly pour them out. However, I've been told a few times that being emotional is weakness... I beg to differ. I see being emotional as a beautiful strength within, a longing to be poured out into the world as it's overflowing within us – or else we will erupt like a volcano, and that would not be good. So I do feel my emotions play a huge role in inspiring me to draw.
Describe Kwerki Studios and your whimsical series of animal characters.
I started my business Kwerki Studios back in 2005. I was inspired to start my own business in order to create my own line of unique prints and greeting cards. One day I went shopping for a greeting card and was disappointed at how they all looked alike – completely boring and left me very uninterested. Hence, this inspired me to create and sell my own line of prints and greeting cards. The concept behind my whimsical series of characters is to create something unique and unusual – animals that I see in my world – while at the same time making viewers happy. Like receiving flowers, to bring a smile to their faces, as if they have literally entered Candy Land. I always loved playing that game as a child. I just want to share my passion for art and bring happiness to those who view or purchase my work.
How do you motivate yourself as an artist? Do you feel compelled to create or are you simply a determined spirit getting right down to business?
I find myself not needing any sort of motivation. It just seems to flow naturally. I have always had a strong urge to create something. It's like needing air to breathe – one must have it. So I always feel a strong desire to create something. I'm always cultivating creativity, a deep passion that burns strongly within me, my desire is to unleash this creativity.
Many of your characters are dreamy and vibrant, quite fitting for a children's book. Are you working towards a publishing credit or have you already conquered that mountain?
Yes, I have recently accomplished producing two books on my characters. The first book is called Kimberly Pelkey's Whimsical World, which contains my most recent illustrations from the past year. My second book, currently in progress, is called Kwerki Ink Creatures. This book contains pictures of my acrylic ink creatures. I'm also looking at producing a children's book soon, as well as another book of recent illustrations with my stories included. So yes, more Kwerki illustration books to come!
Many artists focus exclusively on their niche craft, but they don't necessarily have the literature chops to enhance their ideas. You're different in the sense that you generate fascinating tales to accompany your characters. How does writing help you as an artist and do you feel the same passion for storytelling as painting?
To be honest, I never really had any intention of having stories attached to my work. I suppose this is would be considered one of those happy accidents. One day, just before posting my work on social media, I got this story idea in my head, so I just decided to share it along with the illustration. I later discovered that many viewers actually read and enjoyed the stories attached to my work. I found it to be so wonderful that they actually read the stories. Now I just kinda write these stories up out of the blue. I make the story according to what I see in my illustrations, but I have never thought of myself as being a storyteller or writer. Seeing that viewers enjoy the stories, I've since been inspired to continue writing these stories. Moreover, I recently had one viewer suggest that I should create a book with just my stories, which I must say is a brilliant idea.
Artists are often sensitive and emotional beings, but I sense a bubbly personality shining through your work... Would this be an understatement or do you have a dark and sinister side like so many other artists?
Yes that's true. I am a sensitive, emotional being. And yes, I have often been called bubbly Kimberly. So you want to know if Kimberly has a dark side to her? Does Kimberly ever go over to the dark side or get grumpy? Haha... Well sadly, I would like to share that I have gone through my share of toxic people in life; criticism, bullying, etc. I definitely know what hurt feels like, and my kindness has sometimes been mistaken for weakness. But yes, I am for the most part a very kind, caring, and fun person to be around. It just seems to comes naturally for me.
However, I am still human, not perfect by any means. I choose not to waste my time or energy with dark and toxic people. I have made a strong boundary to steer clear from toxic trolls and hatred. I dislike their negative aura. It's like poison to the soul and their only goal is to deplete you – and it will if you let it – so I make sure to instantly clear it out of my life until all is peachy keen. I suppose these dark experiences are the reason behind my choice to create art that is filled with bright colors and cheerful characters. I want people to feel happy and inspired when they view my work, not sad and depressed.
Even if they are having a bad day, the world has enough hate and negativity already. I feel this world could use more empathy, kindness, respect, happiness, and most of all LOVE. Might I suggest that ice cream always makes it all better too… But seriously, we're all human. We all just want to be loved and respected. It's such an easy task, to choose to be kind and extend that positive aura to others. And so I hope my artwork brings that happiness and love to others, especially to those who are hurting and in need of it.
In your opinion, what is the most difficult thing about being an artist and how do you overcome negativity and criticism?
The most difficult thing is not having a personal chef around to make an amazing meal after painting all day... Haha, just kidding. Although that would be awesome! I think the most difficult thing is dealing with clients who really don't have a clue what they want. They explain their ideas to me and the entire project is discussed. I then render roughs over to them, only to find they've either changed their mind or really don't have a clue what they truly want. No doubt, this can be very frustrating. I've since developed a contract that explains my whole process from beginning to end. That way we can both be on the same page and all runs smoothly.
As for overcoming negativity, I think it all depends on how the negativity or criticism is stated. It's okay to disagree or dislike someone's work, as everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I understand that not everyone will like my style or colors or themes. I can respect that, as I to have come across artwork that I have disliked or did not agree with. As long as it's done with constructive criticism, which is merely the process of offering valid and well reasoned opinions of the art. This involves both positive and negative comments in a friendly manner rather than some rude or disrespectful comment. There is clearly a difference, a more respectful way to go about stating criticism. I find it's always wise to be tactful, to think before proceeding with our comments, else we may find ourselves having some regrets. As the old saying goes, "If you have nothing nice to say, keep it to yourself." If anything, I think we need to lift up and encourage others, not discourage them. There is no need to be negative or make others feel lesser than you. It's not necessary at all.
This subject tends to be sticky for some, but as a female artist, do you ever experience discrimination or inequality, any sort of unfair practice or disadvantage?
No, I have never experienced discrimination or inequality for being a female artist. I simply view the artwork – their gender doesn't cross my mind. For me, I always see artists as artists. I don't feel their gender has anything to do with them being able to create great art. I believe both men and women are perfectly capable of producing great art.
What are some fascinating things the audience might enjoy knowing about Kimberly Pelkey? Hobbies, interests, day-to-day activities...
Well, I love animals. I enjoy cooking – all sorts of dishes. I enjoy learning about other people and their cultures. I love vintage things, old things. I find the history behind them interesting. I love to get my hands dirty and plant stuff in my garden. I love watching comedies and romantic period dramas. Yes, I'm gooey like a warm fudge-filled brownie – in love with love – that's me... I love books, love to laugh and be goofy. I enjoy traveling and visiting new places, talking to people. When I'm not painting I enjoy playing with clay. And as you know I was a licensed beautician, so if you are in need of a haircut, haha...
I also did an internship for a company called Design Studios West in downtown Denver. I worked alongside some very well known architects of Denver. As well as the lead Graphics Designer for a major logo campaign that still stands to this day. I worked on helping with signage and logos for the mall in Castle Rock Colorado. It was a fun project!
What advice would you give to younger artists struggling to find their creative identity?
My advice would be not to view it as a struggle. Identify what it is you love and what inspires you the most. Don't ever compare your art to others. Create your own unique style. Dare to be different and march to the beat of your own drum. Being an artist is pushing boundaries, everywhere and in any direction. Don't be afraid of taking risks. Set aside your fears and don't be afraid of failure. Understand that failure can sometimes produce beautiful and unknown results. Always cultivate the creativity and passion burning strongly within you. It longs to be released. Go with the flow and have fun with it!
Open forum here Kimberly… Anything else you'd like to share?
Yes, I would like to thank you for extending this wonderful opportunity. I would also like to thank everyone who is always so kind and encouraging to me. It always brightens my day to read such warm and loving messages from viewers on this platform. It really encourages me to go further in my creative endeavors. I am very grateful and appreciate all the support and love given to me. It means a lot, so Thank You! Big hug from me and lots of love to you all...