Witnessing The Sweet Moments: An Interview With Seattle-Based Painter Kelly Bjork
We recently came across some of Kelly Bjork's work on It's Nice That, and were intrigued by her wonderful line work and her use of vibrant colors. Below is a short interview to give some context on Kelly, her work, and what's next for her.
Where are you from and what got you into making art?
I'm from Washington state, I was born and raised in Tacoma, moved to Bellingham for college and post-college life, and have been living in Seattle for the last 4 years. I'm not sure what got me into art, but I've been interested in drawing since I could pick up a pencil (that's what my Mom tells me at least, ha). All throughout my childhood I was interested in drawing and knew that when I went to college that art would be my focus. After college, I chose to live an artistic life; I work freelance illustration, do portrait commissions, personal paintings, stationary design and even the side-hustle art gigs to make ends meet (i.e. art modeling and assisting different artists). Living as an artist is definitely a juggling act, but so worth it because I love it.
What is your most recent body of work about? What have you been working with in terms of materials and subject matter?
This series is really about the closeness and intimacy I have with the people in my life. I often go into a lot of detail when painting personal objects in these environments, it's a way to get to know the subjects of my paintings. I want to show the sweetness that can be experienced in this world. With our current climate, I think it’s important to have these moments, to remember they exist. Knowing that there is good out there helps keep me sane.
I have been working strictly in gouache for over 6-years now. I've recently added colored pencil into the mix, but I have a feeling I'll be using gouache for a long time. I love how flat and opaque it lays! As for subject matter, I have endless material since I'm frequently referencing the humans around me. I'm inspired by my day-to-day interactions with fellow humans, and witnessing sweet moments between them.
Do you have any shows coming up? What's next for you?
In June, I have 4 pieces in the Bellingham National Juried Art Exhibitions and Awards at the Whatcom Museum in Bellingham. There I will be showing Butt Island, Deep-Water Ladies, Splayed Produce, and Tiger Overhead.
June is an exciting month for me as Mount Analogue will be releasing Spicy Metal, a comics journal that has two artists and one theme. The comic will be risographed printed by the amazing Cold Cube Press. This is Mount Analogue's first issue and features Phoebe Bulkeley Harris and myself under the theme of BURSTING. Also my paper goods studio, Pilgrim Paper Co. is releasing a new batch of greeting cards! I started this company along with my partner, Teresa Grasseschi.