We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelli Urabe and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelli, looking back, what do you think was the most difficult decision you’ve had to make?
One of the hardest decisions I had to make was whether or not to take the leap to move down to Southern California from Oregon. I didn’t have a job lined up. I didn’t really know anyone in the area. However, I knew that the only way for me to grow in my career was to leave the small college town that I had made myself comfortable in, and spread my wings and take a risk. I’m happy to say that, that risk ended up paying off. I think that my creative career took a turn for the better, and I’ve never felt so in tune with my creativity than I do now.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
My style tends to gravitate towards making things cute. I’ve never perceived myself as cool or sexy, so I think that reflects in my artwork. Cute and colors make me happy. I used to think that there was something wrong with that. Why am I not able to draw detailed things, with complex lighting or shadows? Then one day I realized that when I draw, I tend to favor things with bold, clean lines. I tend to favor art that can communicate something in a very simple form. So instead of being hard on myself when it came to style, I decided that it is time to embrace that about myself. However, I never want my art to become stale or repetitive. So every now and then I’ll change things up by trying out different color palettes or coloring techniques. This challenge helps me to discover more about my capabilities, and from there, my art continues to evolve. I never want to be like a band that once you hear one of their songs, you’ve heard them all. I want my art to continue to surprise, and to continue to improve, and of course for myself to have fun. I take pride in knowing that my art grows with my personality over time. Some parts of it are still the same, but I can proudly say that I’ve come a long way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
The city of San Diego is really great, but ever since the Pandemic hit this year, I have found a lot of comfort in wide open spaces, and the outdoors. I would probably take someone to go hiking in east county to see things like Eagle Rock on the Pacific Crest Trail. I would take someone to see the small down of Julian (on a non-touristy weekend. I would opt for an Airbnb in an area I’ve never been to before so that I could explore its surroundings. Basically just taking them to places I’ve always wanted to check out, but never had an excuse to in the first place.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
It seems pretty cliche, but I would have to say that my family and friends have been a huge support to me. They’ve always encouraged me to sell my art and put myself out there, and when I did, they have all been there to back me up. Whether it is buying my products, or just recommending me to their friends and loved ones. There is no way that I would be here without them. I’ve also met many other creatives who have been equally supportive and encouraging, and never look down or feel the need to compete.
All images credited to myself (Kelli Urabe)