KAYLEEN’S TOP CREATIVE TIP: Be authentic. If you pursue what you are most passionate about, you’ll do it well. Then you’ll be internally fulfilled, making your occupation feel more like a hobby and less like work. This will keep you motivated regardless of setbacks.
Kayleen West is an award-winning children’s author, illustrator, designer and creative educator. Her works hang in private and corporate collections around the world including the Australian Embassy in Ireland. Since late 2009 she has authored picture books, Adoptive Father and Without Me? and illustrated, Better Than A Superhero, Celia and Nonna and We Worship God. She is also the author and illustrator of Positively Quote Colouring Book.
What’s the best aspect of your artistic life? Exploring possibilities and discovering I can create things I never imagined…or perhaps I did.
—the worst? Balancing all the roles you take on in publishing. Fitting it all in!
How do you approach a creative project? I go with what feelS right. This is usually the project that will touch others the most – make a difference. I don’t have a formulated process. I am organic in how I operate but I do sketch out ideas in fragments before I compile and explore thoroughly. Mindmapping would be the best description.
What are you working on at the moment? I have just finished a colouring book for adults called Positively Quote Colouring Book and working on another. I want to develop a particular children’s picture book too and plan to write and illustrate it. I can’t say too much more just yet except that it looks at what appears to be a weakness but in fact is strength.
You can read more about my colouring book here: http://kayleenwest.com.au/portfolio/shop/crafts-and-activities/positively-quote-colouring-book/
Do you think of yourself more as an artist or writer? I see myself as a storyteller. I find writing more difficult but both images and words are necessary to deliver my stories or messages to the world. I am possibly more skilled as an illustrator and prefer to be illustrating in my studio.
Is there any area of art or writing that you still find challenging? Definitely! I am always seeing the higher possibility in everything creative and so looking upward to that. I also have a dyslexic challenge. I am always typing my letters round the wrong way and forever correcting that. It slows me down and is terribly frustrating but it hasn’t stopped me.
What was your toughest obstacle to becoming published? Initially, fear of not being good enough. I struggled with the written word and spelling as a kid and still do but am too compelled not to stop.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an author/illustrator? Working in outreach. I want to use my time on Earth to help others in some significant way.
What would you do differently if you were starting out now as an author/illustrator? I wouldn’t waste time working pro bono or with unfair payment agreements disguised as promotional opportunities. I’d rather work on humanitarian projects and not be paid. I would watermark all my work (too much has been stolen) and I would have spent more time on large-scale personal projects.
What do you wish you’d been told before you set out to become an author/illustrator? That the book industry was gradually altering agreements to pay creators less and the internet was going to make intellectual property rights a nightmare for writers and artists. That compete to work ‘completions’ was going to become too normal because emerging creatives are so desperate to be published; they too often accept any agreement. This is reducing the industry standard to a point that very few would earn a living from their craft.
What’s the best advice you were ever given? Love others and have integrity in all you do.
View more of Kayleen’s work and order books from: www.kayleenwest.com.au