We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Halpin and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, why did you pursue a creative career?
I have been drawing since I was able to hold a crayon. My mother was an artist, both illustrating children’s books and painting. My father was a big supporter of all the arts, photography and film included. I feel like I had a solid foundation and very supportive parents to be able to explore all aspects of art and my sister and I were encouraged to create everyday. We didn’t watch much television growing up and spent most of our days outside playing. I feel like this aspect of childhood is incredibly unrated. Creativity comes from a lack of structure. Filling the void, so to speak. When I was around 11 years old I began pursuing photography and filmmaking. I made films and spent my summers taking film courses all through high school. I loved telling stories and eventually found myself getting a degree in film at Art Center College of Design in California in 2007. During my time in college, my passion for illustration was relit and I found myself spending more time drawing than working on my films. I worked as a storyboard artist while I built up my portfolio as a pen and ink illustrator. I felt like I was better able to tell stories through illustrations than film and didn’t have to deal with the complexities of permits, equipment, or a film crew. I have been working as a professional illustrator ever since. I love being an illustrator because it’s a way to merge my life long art passion with the stories I want to tell and show others aspects of the world and how I see it. I also feel telling children’s stories and illustrating children’s books about the outdoors is one of the best ways I can show up as an environmentalist and give back.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I believe the style and subject matter is what sets my art apart from others. Being a long time advocate for the outdoors, I like to merge natural elements and science with storytelling. My style tends to be kind of dark and I typically stick to black and white pen work, which can give my illustrations a “dark” feel. I have loved using pens to draw since high school and rarely use color or paint. One of the biggest challenges I have faced as an artist is staying true to what I want to draw with what people regard as a “darker” style. I have had many people try to encourage me to paint landscapes and “happy” wildlife scenes that would sell better in the mountain town I live in. But as much as I love mountains and wildlife, and I do integrate those subjects into my drawings, the style that might sell better in this town isn’t authentic to my vision. And your unique vision is what makes an artist an artist. I would say that has become of my biggest lessons as well. It’s important to continue to explore your art, to be playful and try new things, but in the end you have to be true to yourself and your message.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
If I had a friend visiting, I would probably take them out to a few favorite restaurants and then spend the weekend climbing, running, and camping in the mountains.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would like to dedicate my shoutout to my longtime friend Rob Kingwill, another professional athlete and artist. He has been a world class snowboarder for over twenty years, works tirelessly as an artist, and owns his own accessory line in Jackson Wyoming. His passion is to encourage others to pursue their dreams, get outside, and chase positive progression. Rob has always encouraged me to create, take risks, and explore all aspects of art and storytelling. One top of all this, he is one of the most compassionate humans I know and always does his best to give back to others.
first black/white portrait is by Mike Thurk second by Mark Twight