Blog » Meet the Artist: Kelsey Garrity-Riley
Today we’re thrilled to introduce you to the artist behind the Heirloom Silk Scarf, a product of the most recent collaboration for our Entre Nous collection. I have been a big fan of her illustrations for some time now, so I’m especially eager to get the wonderful and talented Kelsey Garrity-Riley on your radars!
Read on to learn a little bit about what inspires her, what we can look forward to next, and get a peek at her work space.
How long have you been working as an artist? Where did you get your start?
I have always loved creating. I spent a lot of time drawing and painting when I was young. Not just two dimensional media, I always enjoyed creating with found objects, and some very failed sewing attempts.
How would you describe your illustrative style?
Sentimental; faded; anachronistic.
You’ve worked across so many mediums – books, paper goods, large format window displays, adorable hand-sewn dolls. As your first foray into wearable goods, has this process been challenging in any unexpected ways?
I LOVE venturing into other forms of creativity. I don't think I would enjoy illustration nearly as much if I wasn't finding different formats to apply it to. I think the key is to make sure that your personal aesthetic comes through no matter what. I don't think style is about the medium you use, it’s your own approach to visuals. In that way I hope every separate thing I work on can be seen as part of the same portfolio. This is my first foray into wearable goods. Although I took a lot of fashion classes in college, I found I only enjoyed the illustration and sketching and was awful at sewing. I think more than it being challenging I'm intrigued to see how what was created as a two dimensional image will translate to being moved and worn.
So much of your work lingers beautifully in bygone eras, particularly in the sphere of children and families. What is it about those times/places that inspires you in your work?
A lot of the colors I use are derived from old worn pieces of paper I've collected over the years, I just much prefer that pallet. I also much prefer classic children's clothing silhouettes. I think these things more than anything put my work into being labeled as vintage or nostalgic—which is fine so long as I work on keeping it decidedly contemporary (something I'm trying to work on more and more). I feel very blessed to have grown up in a wonderful family and I think a lot of the familial imagery I use is simple nostalgia for home and the idea of home.
Who are some of your favorite contemporaries?
I absolutely love, so much, everything Carson Ellis does. I also enjoy: Marcel Dzama, Camilla Engemen, Olaf Hayek, Jockum Nordstrom and others (although I try not to spend too much time looking up other work, it seems sometimes more discouraging than anything else. There are so many amazing artists out there!). My incredibly talented husband Erik Riley inspires me every day.
What is it like living between Europe and the US? That sounds like a dream!
I wish I could spend more time living between the two! These days I'm more grounded in the States, and then I spend a month at Christmas time with my family in Europe. I very much love Savannah where we live now, but the dream would be to eventually move more freely between the two.
It’s really fun to see your style adapted to modern pop culture icons like Michael Ian Black, which
you recently posted to your blog. Do you see yourself doing more of this type
Yes! I would really love to build up more of that kind of work in my portfolio. Having what is labeled an "old" style of illustration can feel very limiting, and I think drawing on very contemporary subject matter is a way to keep it fresh. I also love portraiture and I think it’s a good way to explore that part of creativity. I've only just realized this though! So check back in a few months and hopefully I'll have caught up with some similar new work.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not creating art?
I love my other job as a visual merchandiser/display artist at The Paris Market in downtown Savannah. I get to work with people I really enjoy, drink lattes all day and display interesting old finds in a beautiful space. I love spending time in the hearth or in the kitchen when I can. I love watching crime dramas. I love (somewhat separate from the illustration work I normally do) getting to paint on canvas. I love spending time with my husband doing just about anything.
What can we look forward to from you next? Any exciting projects in the works?
Oh, lots of odds and ends. I have a biweekly illustration blog called Meatloaf Mondays that I contribute to along with some amazing friends of mine – that’s been wonderful. I’ve also been creating wedding invitations through this lovely company called Ello There as well as many custom designed invitations. I would LOVE to do a children's book, no idea when or if that will happen though!