Because feeeeeeeeeeeelings and we have so many feelings for Kelly Knaga. We chatted with Kelly Knaga, illustrator, painter + designer, about her art (we are obsessed), how she finds balance and what CBD lends to her practice.
How did you start making art?
Oooof. That’s a hard one. I honestly don’t remember a time I wasn’t making things. But I imagine it all started with some crayons and paper as a kid. And I just never stopped drawing.
What's your greatest source of inspiration?
The natural world and the stories we weave alongside it. Also, joy, hope, and laughter. They play a big part.
How do you get out of a creative rut?
A lot of long runs and walks. Dancing like an ass to my favorite songs. And really, I just keep drawing every day. Eventually, all the crappy work I make leads to work I feel really connected to and proud of.
How do natural landscapes inform your work?
I draw upon the land for much of my inspiration - land, natural objects, forms, colors, textures, patterns, and stories. I often refer to my work as landshapes because of all the shapes and land formations that inform my work. My history and relationship with the land, farm, fields, gardens and surrounding woods I grew up on is a particular source of inspiration for me. Later on, my time working in Los Angeles further influenced my work because I lived near the Angeles National Forest and San Gabriel Mountains and spent any free time I had hiking and exploring the California mountains, deserts, and coastline.
What does CBD lend to your practice?
For instance, does it help you focus or create (if applicable)? In addition to regular meditation and exercise, CBD helps me slow down and sit in the moment with my thoughts. I think it helps me find clarity and even some relief from all the noise that bombards us every day.
When do you feel your most creative?
Early morning or late at night. Moments when the world is a little bit quieter. As well as my kiddos. Ha.
How do you find your wellness, state of mind and/or mental health shapes your work?
They are interconnected. I’m a miserable person if I go too many days without drawing.
What motivates you to create work?
For a number of reasons. In no particular order: to pay the bills, to tell stories, to honor and celebrate the land, to laugh. My daily practice is tied to my mental health and to my joy. My work excites me, fulfills me, and motivates me to keep exploring, learning, and connecting.
What is the role of art in your life?
One of the best parts.
How do you find balance?
I practice yoga, dance with my kiddos, and I try to laugh a whole lot.
I don’t have one but on my mind these days is the lyric Love is Everywhere from Wilco’s Love is Everywhere (Beware).
What role has social media played in your art and sharing your art?
I definitely use social media to share my work and it’s been a great tool to connect with clients and collaborators. I’m especially excited about the fellow artists, mentors, and community I’ve been able to connect to. And for that, I’m so thankful.
How has quarantine impacted your creativity or how you make your art?
Gosh, yeah, this quarantine has definitely done a number on some projects and collaborations I was really excited about. Some were just flat out canceled and others are on hold indefinitely. It’s been disappointing but I totally understand it. However, the quarantine has also given me some additional time to make, create, and explore new ideas, processes, and work.
Mantra of the moment?
Tacos and whiskey.
Most played song right now?
Lianne La Havas’s newest album is on repeat right now.
Best piece of advice you ever received?
Laugh as much as you can.
Guilty pleasure you should never feel guilty about?
Tacos and whiskey.
What's your favorite Sweet Reason flavor?
Lemon Rhubarb, of course.
Kelly Knaga is an artist, illustrator & designer from Chicago. Her work is informed by her relationship and exploration of land. Her lines, landshapes, and abstract landscapes are inspired by textures, patterns, and forms found in the natural world.