“I draw inspiration from the beautiful things I observe in nature and the beautiful people I meet. I have a strong urge to tell stories with my drawings. A lot of my drawings have strong elements of myth or fantasy. I like to make the viewer feel calm, so I draw images with a lot of unity and balance, lots of places in nature, somewhere that looks enjoyable and peaceful.” Kelly Bastow shares when asked where she bases her illustrations from.
The Toronto based artist adds that she enjoys drawing women of all shapes… “because we are all so beautiful and unique. I also enjoy spreading motivation and positivity with my artwork, if I can inspire someone to make a good change or love themselves a tiny bit, I’ve done my job.”
In her spare time, Kelly shares that she loves to make “lush nature illustrations, patterns and autobiographical comics, and share them with the world.” “I try to upload a few illustrations or comics per week to my various social media sites. I also do inking and freelance work for novels, comics, and magazines. Branding her illustrations under the name, Moosekleenex, Kelly explains that the “silly name” was just something she and her friend came up with back in 2003. “It’s stuck with me over the years and has become synonymous with my work, but it doesn’t mean anything. It’s charming, right?” With a knack for exhibiting the beauty of nature and women, Kelly tells you what it’s like to draw her subjects in all shapes and sizes.
Where/how did you learn how to work on your illustrations?
I’ve been drawing since I was a child, like most artists. It took a long time and much trial and error to develop a consistent style. It also took a long time and some good advice to find good materials to use, like good quality paper, ink, etc. These days I am pretty set in my ways, and always use the same supplies. I still have a lot of improvements to make and am always learning from my mistakes. I spent my first 21 years living in Newfoundland, Canada, a small island with rocky and rugged landscapes. I drew many images inspired by Newfoundland nature, and because I often got bored there, illustrating was a welcome escape.
We noticed that the people that you draw have different body types. What made you decide to draw these varieties?
It’s more fun and interesting to draw different varieties of people, instead of cookie cutter shapes. People are different in so many ways, it wouldn’t be right to draw just one type of body.
What are some responses that you’ve received from drawing people this way?
I have received a very heartwarming response from some people. I occasionally get a thank you note from someone who feels more comfortable with their body because of my drawings, which is absolutely incredible. I have also received suggestions on how to make my naked patterns more diverse and inclusive. I will utilize those in the future.
What do you hope to achieve with your illustrations? Is there a message that you wish to convey?
I would be pretty happy if a few people liked my drawings and stuck around to see more. I would like to try to help people feel less alone with their issues, whether it be depression or insecurity. We all have hang-ups and problems with ourselves and our bodies, so don’t beat yourself up too much. There are people who relate to you and care about you. I also just want to be proud of the work I make.
What are some challenges that you face as an illustrator?
Feeling inadequate is a constant challenge. Many artists berate themselves for not being good enough, or skilled enough. It’s a struggle! Also, terrible posture and hand cramps come with the territory.
What do you like about illustration?
I like that it can bring beautiful worlds to life, and cause a change in the viewer. It can also send a powerful message or concept. I personally enjoy illustrating, because it lets me vent my frustrations on paper. It’s a therapeutic and enjoyable pastime, particularly when drawing my naked lady patterns! And putting the images online makes me feel validated and less alone.
What’s your favourite subject matter?
What advice/suggestion would you give to those who are aspiring to pursue a career in the arts?
Try to make some contacts that can help you out, be friendly and respectful, practice often. Don’t expect to make much money, but even if you are not financially rich, you will be rich in your soul!