Interview with Kelsey DeLange
Kelsey, you have turned your passion and artistry into a successful career. What would you say to any young artist looking to do this full time?
I really love what Julia Child's said, "Find something you're passionate about and keep tremendously interested in it" and I think that rings so true to any of us who pursuing a full-time career in any creative field. There will be times, especially in the beginning when you'll get a job that may not be the most "on brand" and that you may not be exactly excited about, but be humble, find the beauty in it and remember why you're doing this in the first place. Being self-employed and having a creative career is the hardest thing I have ever done, but it is also the best and I couldn't imagine doing anything else.
Your illustrations are so witty and brilliant. It’s apparent you found a way to express your voice through your art. What has the process been like for you to trust your own style? Have you every doubted yourself? How did you take steps to overcome?
Thank you so much! The journey to finding my style has just been a lot of creative exploration - and I'm still exploring and experimenting with new things and different techniques all the time. It's my goal to have each successive piece to be different from the ones before it, I always want my art to be changing and growing but to still look like something that I have made. As far as self-doubt goes, yes of course! I doubt myself daily, I don't think I have worked on a piece of art yet in my career that I haven't questioned - I think that's just part of the process of an artist. But when you truly love what you do and you can see that constant evolution in your work it's easy to overcome the feelings of doubt and push forward - it's a constant cycle, really.
We live in a world of assumptions, rather than curiosity for each other’s story. What would you want people to know about you that they might not have known?
I guess just that everyone has a "behind the scenes" - so much on social media and in the public view we are seeing people's highlight reels, myself included. We share the good things, the pretty things, the happy things - that's just what we choose to put out there into the world. But I'm no different than anyone else, I don't have it all together all of the time. I have my share of bad days, I have my share of creative droughts, I have days when I don't get any orders and sometimes that will go on for two or three days in a row. It's easy to look at someone's life or career on the internet and think that they really know what they're doing and they've really mastered it all, but the truth is we are all growing and learning, we're all somewhere along in the process.
Tell us about a time in your life that made you roar.
I didn't grow up with a lot - in fact, I grew up with very very little. This is probably going to sound so silly to most people but I very vividly remember a day after we had gone grocery shopping where I was putting things away and I took a step back and realized that my fridge was full. My fridge was full, and that was definitely not something that happened when I was a kid. It made me realize that my son will never wonder if he's going to be able to eat dinner or not, he'll never have to experience having the utilities being turned off month after month because we couldn't pay the bills. I'm able to do something that I love each and every day and in doing so I am also able to support my family. That realization in my kitchen that day, something that so many people take for granted every day and never even consider was the proudest and most emotional moment of my life (aside from the birth of my son). To this day every time that I am putting away groceries and see my fridge full of food I am so humbled and proud and definitely, definitely roaring.
What would you say to the woman that feels creatively stuck, is intimidated by competition, and wonders if her voice matters?
First and foremost, everyone has some magic inside of them to add into the world, everyone's voice matters. When it comes to creative drought, my best advice is to leave it be for a little bit. The more and more that you pressure yourself to be creative, the less creative you're going to feel and you may even eventually come to loathe the process. So instead, step away from your desk and do something that recharges you and makes you feel alive - do some yoga, take a bath, go on a hike, read a book - whatever it is that looks like for you… do it. You may be surprised to find that by nurturing yourself you're probably going to feel so inspired and recharged, and that unfinished project will be waiting for you on your desk when you're ready to return to it. Finally, I think it's really important not to think of "competition" or what others are doing and focus on yourself - focus on your own work, your own passion, your own art. In the end it doesn't matter what anyone else is doing, it matters what you do yourself.
If you could tell the next generation of women anything, what would it be?
Don't let anyone dull your shine. Be unapologetically badass and go for the things that you want. Don't let anyone or anything hold you back.
Kelsey DeLange is an illustrator and product designer from Grand Rapids, MI and the owner of Honey and the Hive - her shop where she aims to make the world a little brighter, more colorful, and a whole lot happier. To see more of Kelsey's work follow along on Instagram @honeyandthehive or visit her shop, www.byhoneyandthehive.com
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