Art For The Sake Of Art

Artist Spotlight – Emma Jane Kimmell

Emma Jane Kimmell is a Seattle based artist and children’s art instructor. She makes art for those who see old things as a part of something new, for those who see black and white as distinctly colorful, for those who see magic in reality, and she produces art for the sake of art.


Born and raised on a farm in Northern Idaho, Emma Jane began her artistic career in high school with a simple sketchbook and camera. As her interest in art grew, she received a sketch-a-day sketchbook from her father containing a page for each day of the year and hasn’t stopped sketching daily since then. She attended the University of Idaho for her undergraduate degree in Art with an emphasis in painting and moved to Seattle to pursue her artistic endeavors in 2012.  Early in 2015 she launched her business “Emma Jane Art” selling prints, cards and custom pieces.

 

Emma Jane had her first art show at Barilli Cellars winery in Spokane in 2010. In 2011 she won the People’s Choice Award for a community sculpture contest at the Moscow Recycling Center where she built a giant model of the state from all recycled materials. In November of 2013 she had a solo show at Café Artemis in Seattle where she was commissioned to do pieces for a few private buyers. She is currently teaching aspiring young artists at Thrive Art School in Seattle and continues to make freelance pieces and run her business. Once upon a time when asked why a farm kid would choose such a career path, Emma Jane replied, “for the sake of art.”

 

 

  • What drew you to a career in art?

I was always interested in art and all things creative. I considered studying interior design, architecture and even fashion design but I remember my first week in college as art major was when I realized it was exactly where I wanted to be.

  • What’s it like teaching the children in Seattle?

I love it. But just like all teaching goes it can be a struggle some days. But seeing my students let their uninhibited creativity run wild and free is one of the best feelings in the world. It’s my goal to create more confident children that can use their creativity and apply it to the rest of their lives. I feel as though children lose that as they grow older and it’s my job to not let that happen.

  • What inspired the Sketch a Day project and how long do you plan on keeping it up for?

I began the Sketch a Day project back in 2011 when my dad gave me my very first sketch a day sketchbook as a gift. I was so nervous to start it because I wasn’t sure that I could keep it up for a whole year. But I started and the creative juices started to flow! After a year had gone by I had seen so much growth in myself that I decided to start another year. Almost 7 years later and still going strong. It’s become such an integrated part of my life that I plan to continue it for as long as I possibly can.

  • What has been the biggest challenge there?

I’d say that the biggest challenge at first was learning the discipline to do it daily and getting over the fear of having an end product that I wasn’t always proud of. And even now, 7 years later I struggle some days with deciding what to draw or even finding the time to draw! But I find ways to make the time for it when I set my mind to it. Some days it’s during lunch break, late at night in bed, at 6am after the gym, or even while stuck in traffic. I always keep sharpies and paper with me with me so that I can always get it done.

  • What do you think sketching everyday has given you as an artist?

Sketching daily has given me so much! Mostly the discipline of practicing my craft and pushing myself to improve. It’s helped me learn to control my creativity rather than letting it control me. I’ve put myself into new situations and environments and have pushed myself to draw even when I’m not feeling creative or inspired. I also feel like it’s really strengthened my voice as an artist. It’s helped me find my strengths and my weaknesses and really define my style.

 

  • Naturally, all your work is precious to you, but which project are you the most proud of when you reflect back?

That’s a hard one! Some pieces I have a strong emotional attachment to while others I want to rip up and never set eyes on again. I’d say that I’m most proud of one of my biggest pen and ink floral pieces that says “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful, that will be my life.” It took about 30 some hours, hundreds of sharpies, some tears, some frustration, and more coffee than one should consume. But I think the message behind it is what makes it so special to me. My goal as an artist is to leave the world a more beautiful place with everything I touch.

  • On the flip side, hindsight is 20-20. What would you change about your past if you could?

Looking back I wish I would have learned the business and marketing side of art earlier on. That’s one of my biggest struggles as an artist is being both the artist and the entrepreneur. Being such a creative mind it’s hard to operate with the business mind at the same time.

 

  • What other mediums do you enjoy?

I love to paint! My emphasis in college was in painting and sadly I don’t do it as often as I’d like. Since I’m more often than not sketching on the run I don’t get to sit down and paint as often as I’d like to.

 

  • Where do you see yourself 5 years from now?

5 years from now I see myself living as a full time artist. My goal is to publish a set of coloring books, a greeting card line, calendars, children’s book illustrations, fabric and then starting up my own art studio where I can teach.

 

  • What advice would you pass on to aspiring artists?

Don’t stop. It can be overwhelming unchartered territory and the path is very often unclear for artists but push through, set goals and don’t stop. My biggest piece of advice would be to learn the business side as early on as possible. Artists very often struggle because they don’t know how to market themselves and I’ve found that to be my biggest obstacle.

 

“Emma is an inspiration to any creative individual who struggles with daily inspiration and sheer motivation to continue to turn what you love into a career. I have personally seen quite a few creative individuals put aside pen and ink for a regular 9 to 5 when they lose their passion and drive.

Emma I want to personally thank you for sharing your struggles and success with us at Apprentice Studios! We can’t wait to visit your own studio in next few years!!”

-Anni

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Anni Lubiens

Interview By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Emma Jane Kimmell – follow her on Instagram

5 hurdles: Community

Young designers tend to close themselves off from others so that they can operate within their own temple. However, this prevents them from collaborating with and bouncing ideas off of their peers. In design, if you hope to improve you must be open to receiving criticism and, at times, compromising your work. These collaborations invite as many perspectives as possible within a given project, which is a grand foundation for crafting meritorious work. Riding solo can lead to stagnation which can result in you becoming stuck in your own ways.

Strictly sticking to the one lane of operation can lead to close-mindedness, where you believe that your methods are flawless and your work is perfect. Having such a mindset inhibits skill development by not allowing necessary criticism into your life. Being willing to trust the advice of others in a supportive community setting will advance your career by opening you up to ideas that you alone could not have possibly considered.

The flip side of the coin is also something you want to be considerate of while working with others. Working with peers not only opens your mind to other ideas, but it also provides a litmus test for the quality of your work. Working alone doesn’t allow any sort of comparison with others to gauge the caliber of work you produce. This can allow doubt to creep into the minds of independent designers, who are unsure of how their designs stack up to the competition. Being involved in a group allows projects to be shared and discussed, with confidence being built as a result.

However, consulting others can become a slippery slope. By leaning too heavily on the influence of a community you can rob yourself of any individuality. While it’s helpful to receive criticism and pick the brains of others, it’s important to not lose yourself in the process. Remain confident in who you are and use your strengths to continue blazing your own unique trail.

Despite what your mother says, you won’t be right all the time and many times the most beneficial thing for your career is for someone to tell you that you’re wrong, or not quite right. Practicing humility and learning to operate in a community is an integral part of growing your creative capabilities. Taking advantage of the various perspectives within a design community and embracing the opportunity for growth as a young creative will have you ahead of the curve by leaps and bounds.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Toa Heftiba

Another 5 pieces of advice…

Now that we’ve allowed you to fully marinate in the advice of our last list it’s time we hit you with some more! Here are five more pieces of advice we wish we were given when we first began our careers.

 

  • The client is not always right

Despite popular thinking the client isn’t, and probably shouldn’t, always be right. The entire reason for them approaching you is to utilize your design expertise. It’s the designer’s job to lead clients to the correct end result. Clients may have a concept in mind but the entire purpose of consulting a design expert is for them to bring those concepts to reality, which is your job, not theirs.

 

  • But sometimes they have to be

With all that being said, it’s important not to burn any bridges while you’re on them. A balance must be struck between using your expertise to guide the work process and ensuring that the client is comfortable and happy with the direction projects are headed in. If keeping the peace begins requiring you to stunt your own abilities, it may be time to rethink the situation. When relationships start to go this direction often times the work isn’t likely to be portfolio worthy. Compromising your creativity in order to keep the relationship from falling apart may keep the workflow alive, but your portfolio may falter because of it.

 

  • Knowing if work is worthy of being put into a portfolio

Knowing that you’ll have to compromise your own artistic vision at times means that not everything you do will be worthy of placing into your portfolio. Too often we see designers make this mistake which creates for them a collection of projects that the designer isn’t fully represented in. Work produced then becomes an amalgamation of visions from previous clients and the designer themselves, a.k.a. not a good way to put your best foot forward. Always remember that you can say no to putting a finished product into your portfolio. Spoiler alert for what’s next: that’s not all you can say no to people!

 

  • Knowing that you can say no

In fact, after taking a step back and looking at design from a macro point of view, you can absolutely say no to working with a client. The dangers of getting involved in work you’re not comfortable with are real, which is why design ethics is such a relevant topic in today’s design world. As a designer, your morals will be challenged and it’s entirely your choice whether to accept the cards you’re dealt or respectfully walk away and pursue other options. Before you begin any work for any client, make sure you have established a set of standards that you’re unwilling to budge.

 

  • Knowing your limits

Understand this: Not a single person in the creative industry completely avoids the dreaded creative block. For most people there will be times when the block is so pertinent that you will feel stressed out and suffocated, ready to throw in the towel. In those instances, remember that running into a mental roadblock is a normal part of the process. Don’t allow yourself to think negatively in any way. Instead, take a break from whatever is troubling you. Switch it up, do something else that allows you to walk away and recharge. Then you can come back refreshed and ready to show that project who’s the boss.

 

There you have it, five more nuggets of knowledge to store in your brain. Stay tuned as we’ll be imparting even more wisdom throughout our blogs moving forward, all aimed at helping you succeed in following your passion.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Jon Tyson

5 hurdles: You won’t be satisfied with your work

Hindsight will always be 20-20 and especially so with design. When looking back at previous work you will notice aspects of your work that you could have improved on. Many designers tend to be perfectionists so it’s important to keep in mind that you may not be able to meet the lofty expectations you place on yourself.

It’s often difficult to be entirely pleased with your work because design is usually not self-expression. Granted, there are a few designers who are known for designs which express themselves, but they are not the norm and operate in niche industries. Most designers operate in a market of providing a service to others by helping clients express themselves. Therefore it’s important to match your expectations with the client’s so that when you meet or exceed their expectations, you will surpass your own as well. While you may still look back and see changes you could have made, knowing that the client was pleased with your work should remove any stress of personal dissatisfaction.

Designers can be their own biggest critic, but they owe it to themselves to ease up on the reigns. If standards are set too high to the point that they are unattainable, discouragement sets in and lifelong dreams can melt away into impossibility. The lesson here is that when shooting for the moon, realize that the journey there is a cultivating one. Each project you complete grows your talent, allowing you to move closer and closer to your goals. Understand the value in the mistakes of your formative years and cut yourself some slack as you learn.

Now for a twist: To a degree, you shouldn’t ever be satisfied with your work. This may seem contradictory to the rest of the writing, but understand that the day you are entirely content with your work is the day you stop growing as a designer. To be the best, you should always strive to become more proficient at your craft, sharpening your strengths and strengthening your weaknesses.

Poor communication, differing visions, and crystal clear hindsight all contribute to a designer’s dissatisfaction. The hope here is that you are learning through each project, and allowing that dissatisfaction to fuel your fire for improving. As time passes you will find yourself becoming better equipped to provide increasingly impressive work.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Jonathan Simcoe

5 Hurdles: You won’t make a ton of money right away

Too often we see this being made into a bigger deal than it needs to be. Many early designers have school loans to pay off or other expenses and as a result are hoping to land a lucrative design job right away that would make even Rich Uncle Pennybags, the Monopoly mascot, turn green with envy. Au contraire my friend! Let’s face it, you won’t be raking in the dough right off the bat, but that’s not really why you’ve entered this industry, is it?

As much fun as it would be to equate your services to owning Park Place and Boardwalk, prompting clients to shell out bags of money for your work, that’s not how it will be right away. You should be entering any job because you love it, not for the money. Granted, nobody wants to work for free, but the order of priorities is important to be mindful of in any case. While there are those who do seek fortune over passion, perhaps even a few find it, this is a niche approach and not one we encourage pursuing.

Prioritizing funds in your creative endeavor is a slippery slope to tread. Compromising your work to fit into whatever job provides the most income is internally wrong and unsatisfying. You consequentially lose touch with your original desires and begin moving further and further away from your dreams and aspirations. It’s important to recognize that money is a tool to help you continue doing what you love; not the other way around.

Design exists in a variety of industries and exploring them is an often overlooked method of finding additional sources of income to help fuel your drive. Interior design, material design, and game design are all examples that are a stone’s throw away that you may benefit from expanding your horizons. Ultimately, if the word “design” exists in the title, it’s an occupation worth considering. Who knows, as you branch out into new jobs you may even find your next passion.

Design is born from blending a labor of love and a desire to help others. For us, anything otherwise is criminal. With enough time and experience, you will notice the quality and quantity of your clients will improve, in turn growing your income, boosting your career even further. In the end, design positions are actually very lucrative fields to pursue. Your design expertise is incredibly valuable and clients are willing to hand over big bucks to acquire your services.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

 

Another 5 must-haves

Just when you thought you’d checked everything off your design shopping list, we’re back with more necessities. To exponentially boost your productivity, consider the following list of another five must-haves for up-and-coming designers. If you missed our first list you can find it here.

 

  • Resource sites

Creative blocks are real. A fun way to counter stagnation is to browse resource sites and view material created by others. Seeing fresh content can help reinvigorate your own creativity and kickstart your next breakthrough. Of course, be careful to not let your inspiration turn into plagiarism.  

-AS prefered for Inspiration, Portfolio, & Collecting

 

  • Management apps

Design has become much simpler in the 21st century thanks to the advent of management apps. Through these apps, nearly every aspect has become streamlined into easily manageable processes, including accounting, project management, and time tracking. At long last, the days of relying on sticky notes and carrier pigeons to make progress are long gone!

-AS prefered Accounting/Invoicing, Project Management, & Time Tracking

 

  • Music

The always anonymous “they” say that one of the best ways to reduce stress and get out of creativity blocks is to find outlets to help motivate you. We agree, and what better boost is there than music? The right tunes help us run away to our happy place, kickstart our creativity, and perhaps most importantly, keep our sanity in check.

-AS prefered Music

 

  • A good phone

As cool as flip phones are (were?), that sort of technology simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Instead, the industry standard digital sidekick is a cutting edge smartphone with at least 6 gb of monthly data. Phones that operate on the newest iOS and Android operating systems provide designers the convenience of working on the go.

-AS prefered iOS & Android

 

  • Join a community

Once every other item on this list has been checked off, the final piece to the puzzle is to join a supportive community. Not only can you bounce ideas off your peers, but communities of these sorts are excellent sources of inspiration, unveiling new methods and strategies. The more diverse your input, the greater the potential for your output.

-AS prefered online communities for Art & Design

 

After checking off every item on this list you are ready to rock-and-roll with reckless abandon. (Just kidding. You should definitely proceed with calculated abandon. Trust us on this.)

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Writing: Alex Reich

Content: Torrey Lubiens

Photo Credit: Thomas Litangen

5 Hurdles: Creative Block

Working in an industry that relies on constant creativity and fresh thinking naturally entails encountering creative blocks from time to time. Deadlines, disagreements, and empty coffee pots will have you banging your head on the table searching for ideas. As sad as it may seem, getting stuck doesn’t discredit you as a creative, it happens to us all. Even in these sad times know that there are steps you can take to help rebound from these mental stumbles, and best of all they don’t involve any form of head trauma.

 

First and foremost, accept that your brain falling into quicksand is a normal part of the process. There will be times when the flow of creativity slows to a trickle, which is where you can either remove yourself from the situation or break down the project into manageable, bite-sized chunks. Getting out of the workspace is certainly an underutilized method of becoming inspired and it opens doors to new perspectives within your work. Adding this variety into your life jumpstarts your brain into being creative again. Conversely, you could stay involved in your work but instead focus on smaller portions of the project that are easily processed. No matter which method you choose, it’s important to change your approach in some way whenever you get stuck.

 

Once it’s time to get back on track, remind yourself of your motivations and your personal expectations. Getting lost on tangents unrelated to the project can leave you wasting work on something other than the original plan. Equally exhausting, setting the bar too high for yourself can create a self-inflicted sense of doubt. Don’t allow your mindset to falter, and once you’re ready to return, buckle in and confidently chip away at the problem until the finished product is revealed.

 

To safeguard against future fumbles, remove any unnecessary stressors from your work environment, such as trivial distractions and inefficient multitasking, and allow yourself a workspace that is conducive to creativity. At the same time, it’s important that you are aware of necessary stressors that are unavoidable and commonplace in the work process, such as time, design quality, and client expectations. Once you recognize that they will always be present they begin to no longer loom over you, and instead their role in the process is understood and can be accommodated.

 

Over time creative blocks will seem less like mountains and more like speed bumps, hardly even affecting your workflow.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Jonathan Simcoe

5 hurdles: Client Relationships

People are comparable to snowflakes, in that no two are alike. Therefore, since the clients you come into contact with are all unique, learning the nuances of each one will be a boon to your success. Doing so allows you to better fine-tune projects to best fit the client’s needs. At the same time, having a strong relationship with those who you work with will offer you invaluable clarity and peace of mind, allowing you to enjoy your work to the fullest.

 

Only after you’ve taken the time to analyze your clients are you able to accurately decide which relationships you want to continue and which are better off ending. What we often come in contact with are two types of clients: Those who understand your expertise and are enjoyable to work with and those who see a designer’s skillset as strictly a means to an end.

 

Many times when you come into contact with clients it will be immediately apparent their intentions in regards to working with you. If the discussion sticks strictly to the results of the project and you can’t seem to get a word in, you are likely dealing with one of the clients we believe you should probably avoid. The idea of a client who seems passionate about results and getting work done may get you excited to work, but over time these clients become a looming presence that only brings stress and frustration to your work process. When clients pay little attention to your opinions, needs, and work process, the relationship tips to one side and is bound to fall.

 

At this point you may be thinking that clients who divert control entirely to the designer are flawless clients to pursue, to which we cautiously affirm. We use caution even with these easy-to-work-with clients because many times the design freedom causes designers to overlook other flaws. From our experience, these types of clients are typically non-profits or churches that won’t have the same budgeting options as other businesses. For this reason, it becomes a slippery slope for designers to exchange their services for less than fair pay or delayed payments.

 

Every designer deals with clients, so when the door opens for you to begin taking offers, be sure to take the time to pick ones who are willing to collaborate, appreciate your expertise, and ultimately are people who you enjoy working with.

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Seemi Samuel

Last Minute Cards for the Designer in Your Life

Not a fan of gifting cliché flowers and chocolates like everybody else? Looking to do something different and stand out from the crowd? We’ve got just what you need: Printable Valentine’s cards perfect for the designer in your life.

5 hurdles all designers inevitably experience…

…and what to learn from them!

“That which does not kill us makes us stronger.” Wise words attributed to German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche and popularized in Kanye West’s song Stronger that are extremely applicable to the design industry. Hiccups in the work process are commonplace for designers, and as life-threatening as they may seem, it’s important to approach these instances as opportunities to learn, grow, and become stronger. Here are five hurdles all designers inevitably go through and what to learn from them.

 

  • Client relationships

Without clients there would be no work for designers, which is why learning the importance of client relationships has such a direct impact on the careers of young creatives.

 

  • Creative block

The bane of creatives everywhere. Perhaps the most grey-hair inducing issue a designer faces, they need not be as much of a roadblock as they often become.

 

  • You won’t make a ton of money right away

Everybody wants a little taste of glory, just to see what it tastes like. Every journey to get there, though, starts with humble beginnings. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will the next great design campaign.

 

  • You won’t be satisfied with your work

Unfortunately, it’s true. No matter how much effort is poured into a project, the designer is likely to look back on the finished product and be displeased. However, tweaking your focus on the needs and expectations of your client can resolve nearly every source of turmoil.

 

 

  • Community

In this industry, competition and natural tendencies push designers away from one another. However, this is what makes communities with members that support one another such a beautiful and necessary thing.

 

Friedrich and Kanye, inspired virtuosos the both of them, were smart to promote the opening quote. Keep their phrase in mind the next time you run into an issue and heed our advice on how to conquer the problem and come out the other end a stronger designer!

 

Have questions, comments, or ideas? Let us know in the comment section below or contact us. We’d love to hear from you!

 

Apprentice Studios is a graphic design studio focused on the training and education of the next generation of creatives.

 

Content By: Torrey Lubiens

Written By: Alex Reich

Photo Credit: Scott Webb