We had the good fortune of connecting with Kelly Johnson and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kelly, what is the most important factor behind your success?
So far, the most important thing has been staying on a consistent posting schedule on social media, and making sure that everything I post aligns with the goals, values, and aesthetic of my brand. That, combined with being real, honest, personable, and responsive to people who comment and message me has helped me stand out a bit. I’ve made some friends out of fellow artists who were once customers, and I’m so glad that they’re in my life now! Those friendships have lead to collaborations and mutual promotion that ends up growing each of our businesses, which I love to see!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
My work has taken a lot of different directions throughout my life, and I think that’s something that I’m most proud of about it. I’ve been able to change and adapt my style to fit whatever an employer or client needs done – from designing apparel for Blizzard Entertainment with a digital, comic book aesthetic, to creating simple, silly ink drawings of wolves for my own brand. I’ve held just a few in-studio art jobs so far, but something that I’ve learned with each new position is that it’s okay to apply for and go after a job description that might not fully match my experience. I hadn’t done any apparel design before being hired at a video game apparel company here in San Diego. Once I left, I had a wealth of experience in that field, all because I took a chance on myself to prove I could learn something new. My current job just started the same way – I applied for a position that I had indirect experience with, and I was able to fill a role for a local video game studio. I know I’ll have a lot of learning and growing to do, and that truly excites me! I guess what I’m trying to say is to take some chances on yourself – go for the jobs or projects that challenge you. You really never know what trajectory your career might take!
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh gosh, I grew up in San Diego, so picking a few favorites is hard! I know they’d have to see the San Diego Zoo and Balboa Park, but I’d also want to take them to the Meditation Gardens in Encinitas. We’d have to take a roadtrip trough the mountains – maybe from Palomar, through Warner Springs and Cuyamaca, and finally over to Mt. Laguna. I’d probably have them walk through Torrey Pines State Park, and take them on a picnic by Liberty Public Market. I don’t know, most of my good friends and I like to be outside a lot, so we’d be doing a lot of outdoor sightseeing! Plus, with the pandemic, my mind has been on outdoor spaces a lot.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people to give credit to! My parents, close friends, and a select few instructors from the art school I attended are at the top of the list for pushing and encouraging me to pursue illustration as a career. The wise mentorship and support received from these individuals is so precious to me, and is something I’ve carried through my career so far. They’re the kind of attitudes that I want to pass to other artists in my life.