Each month we invite a creative from Behance to curate our social feed for a week. Our Guest Curator for August is Brooklyn-based illustrator Kim Salt.
“If I can’t be the thing I want to see in the world, I can at least draw it!” says illustrator Kimberly Salt. As a child, Kim recalls being drawn to the characters of Hayao Miyazaki’s universe: “I admired those characters growing up, and increasingly imagined my own worlds for them as I learned to draw.”
Today, as an illustrator, Kim describes her style as “fluid and dynamic, with an attention to the natural and unnatural movement inherent in living things.” “My goal in depicting these characters is often to harness my own inner power, reflect it in my art, and hopefully allow viewers to see that and connect to their own inner power.” Oftentimes, the inspiration for Kim’s work comes from the mundane — her trick is to find the magic behind these everyday moments.
Kim studied graphic design in college, focusing on web design, but transitioned into illustration after graduation, taking a leap into the world of freelance. “After about a year and a half of this, I was recruited by Facebook as an in-house illustrator and moved my butt and all my belongings from my home state to the Bay Area in California,” she explains.
Kim continued to pursue freelance projects throughout her time in California. After a year and a half, she returned home to New York and back to her life as a full time freelance illustrator.
The road to becoming a successful freelance artist is not an easy one. “Probably the most challenging thing for me has been the social isolation that comes with working from home and having zero coworkers,” says Kim. But she also has to confront late payments, fiscal responsibility, and work/life balance.
“The most rewarding thing about being a freelance illustrator is making work that you get to see out in the world. Your brain makes something up, converts it into pixels, and then you get to watch as others interact with it,” says Kim.
Kim’s advice for budding freelance illustrators is to be bold. “Don’t be afraid to cold-email Art Directors with a few lines of introduction and a link to your portfolio. Make the things you love making most and build your portfolio off of that, because if all goes well, it’s what art directors will ultimately hire you for.”
She has also found invaluable support from her network of fellow illustrators: “I’ve also found that making friends with other creatives, specifically people who were starting out around the same time as me, has made a huge difference. Not only do we connect on both an inspiring and silly level, but we support each other, lend and receive advice, and pass along job info.”
One of Kim’s most memorable projects is an in-store campaign she created for Footlocker. “I wasn’t given many constraints within the brief beyond the color palette and they let me do my own thing for the most part,” she explains.
“I’m happy with the simplicity of the pieces, as well as the composition and flow of your eye throughout each. It was also made during the height of the pandemic, during a time that was quite lonely for me, so creating these illustrated moments of characters being together brought me a lot of comfort.”
“I use Behance to keep track of trends within the illustration industry as well as to discover new artists from time to time. And it’s also helped clients find me.” For her moodboard, she found illustration projects that she gravitated towards and found herself wanting to return to.
One of the artists that stood out to her was Japanese illustrator Hiroki Nishiyama. “I’m forever crushing on Hiroki Nishiyama’s work. I love how graphic and lush the shapes and proportions are, as well as how the artist plays with tangents and the balance of positive and negative space,” she says. Even though Hiroki’s style features flat illustrations, Kim found that the minimalism of his compositions left her with “a sense of fullness.”
“This project really highlights the beauty and range of what a limited color palette can do,” remarks Kim about Tom Haugomat’s pink-hued illustrations for Here Magazine. “I Appreciate the little framing devices around the characters and attention to detail. And I love how much personality comes across even though each of these characters are rendered at quite a small scale.”
Another project that caught Kim’s eye is a vibrant poster series by Vietnamese illustrator Lucia Pham. “The bright colors and graphic quality of the monoline are sending me with this one! Not to mention the gorgeous traditional Vietnamese visual motifs given a more modern look.”