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Kinsey Hotchkiss

After traveling around Southeast Asia and Australia, Kinsey developed an eye for art and design and came back to the States to change her career path. Kinsey continues to uproot her life seaking out places that inspire her. Follow along to see where she's off to next.

Can you tell us about your journey to becoming an illustrator and designer?

After I graduated college, I was not in the design world at all. I studied Mandarin and that took me to China for two years where I taught English. And, while I love teaching, there was something that was missing. So I went and traveled for a year in Australia and Southeast Asia which is where a lot of my design inspiration comes from.

Once I got back to the States, I did some big road trips and spent a lot of time living out of a van on the road. And then I ended up in Southern California where I continued to teach, but I still wasn't in love with it. So I actually talked to my friend who was a designer and I said, I love drawing, I love illustrating, I’m ready to completely switch everything up and I'm going to leave teaching and go back to school. I went back from UC San Diego and got a certificate in an accelerated graphic design program and started doing freelance from there. I started off with tons of free projects for friends and local businesses. After that, I kept going and expanding like my client base. Then I ended up moving back to New England and I got a job full time at a web design agency in Boston. So I worked there doing website management website design. A lot of my time went to illustrations, logos design and other freelance work.

What are some of your favorite takeaways in design and art from each place you’ve lived in?

I think a lot of my style comes from living in a van and travelling abroad. When I first started doing design, I used to have some Chinese influence and would use Mandarin characters because they’re very artistic. But I think the biggest influence I have now is the desert. I love the desert, I'm obsessed with cactuses and I think they're so beautiful and crazy looking. I like to draw and illustrate things that I like to look at and feel some sort of happiness or emotion because I've been there, I've seen it, and hopefully people get the same kind of reaction.


Do you have anywhere that you're really wanting to travel next?

I'm planning on driving out to Utah this summer and working remotely. The desert in Utah is insane and it's right next to Colorado where there's lots of hiking — I'm a huge hiker so just being out in that kind of environment is a big inspiration.

I'm not necessarily going back to van life, but my boyfriend has one of those big 4Runners, and we're hoping to do some trips in that. I am a big minimalist, I only own maybe five shirts, so living in a van wasn't super hard for me. I think the biggest thing is showering. When I lived in a van traveling the South Coast of Australia, my showers were basically just swimming in the ocean, which is awesome, but after a while I just really wanted a shower. But it's so much fun, I mean the freedom and the places you can go, it's an awesome way to travel.


What is your creative process when you're starting a project?

The first step is talking to the client. I have a design brief so we go over what they're looking for and what they want and get all the details. From there I go straight to my iPad and Procreate to start mapping out ideas. Then I bring those ideas into Illustrator and pick and pull them apart with different fonts and colors, it's basically just trial and error. And then of course in that design process if I ever have a creative block, I go straight to Pinterest because it is a lifesaver and it is so much fun. For my own illustrations, I either work at night or I wake up at like 5am, so I literally sit in bed with my coffee as the sun rises and draw in bed.

And usually the first thing I want to draw is a cactus. And sometimes I'll just switch it up and I love drawing vans and try to do that pretty often just because I think they're so cool and they invoke this kind of feeling of travel and freedom for a lot of people.

How do you feel working now in an agency setting versus being a freelancer?

I definitely love freelancing more. I think I'm a super independent person and I love making my own schedule. I am pretty good at staying on top with all of my work and knowing how to lay everything out on my own. It gives me so much freedom to travel. But I do really like working at the agency right now, it's also more website based which I love, I think coding is super cool. I've learned a lot.

Do you have a favorite project that you've worked on lately?

I made a logo for a coffee shop based in San Diego, called Drip Coffee. I really just love the name Drip Coffee, and I used a font from James Coffman that I really like and I really liked how it turned out. He was also a super easy and nice client to work with.


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Kinsey is available for freelance projects all over. Check out more of her work on her site or follow along on Instagram.