Meet Kristen Barnhart, a Dallas based illustrator creating deceptively simple illustrations that express complex emotions in a goofy and often-times sardonic manner.
What does a typical day in the life look like for you?
I’ve always been a homebody, but COVID has increased that to a whole new level. I work full time for a snack corporation as an art director and we’ve been working from home since March, so most of the day is filled with that. After work I start on freelance projects or draw for fun while watching TV and cuddling my cats. My husband also works from home now. We’re both graphic designers, so it’s nice to have someone here to bounce ideas off. Even though we’re home all the time, we’re inside in front of our computers all day so smoking CBD is a way we come together and enjoy a quiet moment outside.
How did you get into illustration and design?
I’ve always been a doodler and journaler growing up. After high school I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. In community college I actually dropped a graphic design class because it was incredibly boring. Ha! I eventually found myself at a liberal arts college and got a degree in graphic design in 2018. During my time there I started drawing and doodling a lot. It was a fun way to pass time during 2 hour lecture classes. I was drawing in sketchbooks and trying to incorporate illustration into my design projects. I just kept drawing and drawing and found my style and never stopped!
What does your creative process look like?
My creative process for illustration is pretty non-existent haha. But I do typically keep up with a sketchbook and will often times go back to that to look for ideas. Sometimes an idea will come into my brain and I’ll let it marinate for a few days then try drawing it. I don’t usually do a ton of sketching! A lot of the process happens while I’m drawing and trying out different things.
Your illustrations and designs are transportive. How do you get inspired?
I’m very inspired by feelings, the mundane moments like forgetting to turn off an oven on when you leave, colors and moods, funny things you tell your sister, always forgetting to shave that patch on your knee, things like that. Lately when I’m looking for inspiration, I’ve been going back to the things that inspired me when I was growing up: Amelia’s Notebook, chapter books that I loved, movies like Wallace and Gromit. All of those things inspired me for some reason and shaped me into the person I am today.
Do you ever find yourself in a creative rut? If so, how do you get out of it?
If I’m in a creative rut it usually means I’m stressed. So if that’s the case I let myself rest, watch some TV, or get back into a creative hobby that gets my brain working in a different way. I love making little polymer clay people. It’s so soothing to mold and paint the clay. I always feel better after working on them. I don’t sell them either, so it’s something that is fun and just for me.
What does CBD lend to your practice?
Smoking CBD helps me take a break, get refocused, and get some fresh air. It’s a nice way for me and my husband to take a moment with each other after working all day. Sweet Reason drinks are tasty and great for sipping on and staying calm during a hectic work day.
How do you find your wellness, state of mind and/or mental health shapes your work?
I think it shapes everything around me! I’m very reactive to my emotions, so whatever I’m feeling seeps its way into my work. I feel like my instagram is a good example of that. It’s kind of like a journal or sketchbook. You can look through it and find a range of emotions.
What is something new or interesting that you’re doing for your health or wellness these days?
I’ve actually never tried CBD products until last summer. It was something I was always skeptical of, but there are so many different high quality products out there, it’s worth giving it a shot. CBD has helped me with my sleep, it helps me calm down, and it’s something I’m grateful to have access to.
How do you stay focused?
Lots of lists and calendar color coded schedules.
What is the role of art in your life?
Art is a form of daily expression for me. It’s something that helps me work through feelings, find out something new about myself, and connect with others.
Who is your favorite artist?
Yori Yuki Ikegami is my all time favorite artist. I love the magical worlds they create and the sense of adventure and curiosity that comes from them.
What does unwinding mean to you?
To me, unwinding is doing something that puts you fully at ease. For me that means cuddling on the couch with a blanket, husband, and my cats.
What does success mean to you?
Success to me means putting your full effort and self into something and feeling so proud of what you created.
What's your current obsession?
Watching miniature builds on youtube.
Has social media impacted the way you create?
For sure. Social media has become a second sketchbook. It’s like my digital sketchbook/portfolio. It’s a place where I can show little snippets of work or quick sketchbook-ish explorations. It’s also a place where I’ve gotten jobs, so keeping things professional, but also staying true to myself is important.
Brand you love?
Currently inspired by?
Victorian Farm (show on Amazon Prime)
Life hack of all life hacks?
Compost! Your! Food! Scraps!
Most played song right now?
Strangers by Psychic Twin
Favorite current read?
I Capture the Castle by Dodie Smith
If you could grab lunch with one person, who would it be?
Favorite Sweet Reason flavor?