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Life & Work with Kendra Minadeo

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kendra Minadeo.

Hi Kendra, so excited to have you with us today. What can you tell us about your story?
Growing up in the wintery tundra of Alberta, Canada, I read books ravenously, drew pictures, and watched all the cartoons the ’90s had to offer. I studied Arts and Cultural Management in Canada and 3D Animation in Ohio. I am a multi-disciplinary artist who has worked in experimental film, theme park design, and animation. My experience and interests have led me to pursue comics, children’s books, and surface design, and my best work thrives on playfulness, humor, kindness, and connection.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Some people have careers that find a groove, they can stick with it, and it fulfills them. My road led me to another country, then another state and my career needed to pivot with each move. After I graduated from my Arts & Cultural Management program in Canada, I thought I would work as an Arts Administrator and continue getting grants from the government to keep making movies. Then I moved to Akron, Ohio, and couldn’t find any work in arts admin or make films the way I used to and had to make adjustments. I took customer service jobs for regular money, and with some friends, started a non-profit film festival that evolved into a local art-house theater. I taught Super eight film workshops and animation, drawing directly on old 16mm film stock. After several years it was time to move on, and I found myself in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles was a breath of creative, fresh air. I worked in customer service for the first little while but moved over to a project coordinator job for a concept design firm for theme parks and museums. During my years in Ohio, my creativity languished. Feeling unsupported and isolated as a creative, moving to LA and working for a creative company that designs theme parks was wonderful. My creativity felt like a bottle of pop that had been shaken, and now the cap was coming off. I wrote three children’s books in the first few months (total rubbish), but I began writing and making things again. My picture work was mixed media postcards and greeting cards for friends, but it felt like I was nurturing the self who had been crushed in Ohio.

After a few years, my illustration work was featured in pop culture galleries, and I made prints and products for comic conventions. And I even got an art agent for kid’s literature! Everything was coming up, Kendra!

My husband, Josh, encouraged me to quit my coordinator job to create art full-time, and then we got pregnant, Trump was elected, and my agent turned out to be a fraud (Danielle Smith). It was too much for my mental and physical well-being. My creativity was slow, my confidence was destroyed, and it was challenging to create as a new mum. Then my hands stopped working (Mother’s Thumb). Despite how much I wanted to draw, I needed to slow down and take care of myself and my baby. Soon my baby was in daycare a few days a week, I was able to get physical therapy for my hands, and I could start creating again!

It’s taken a lot of souls searching, drawing, and research (not to mention anti-depressants and therapy) to get me through these rough patches. And honestly, I’m in one right now. The pandemic is one giant collective rough patch for the entire world, and the weight is heavy on the day-to-day and big picture levels. But I’m still doing work and submitting my work to companies and agencies. I get rejection letters and no responses, but that’s normal stuff. Super duper normal stuff. The hardest part is sending that email and showing them your work. Then you cry in a corner for a minute and try again tomorrow. I’ve had some small wins recently and am grateful for those. The more work I do, the better it gets, and the more emails I can send. Have art friends has been indispensable. I have several groups of art ladies that I connect with on the regular. They get it. Despite how annoying it is, things take time. So even when it’s hard, I try to remember I’m planting seeds, and eventually, some will take root. I just have to keep going.

Thanks for sharing that. So, maybe next you can tell us a bit more about your work?
I’m an illustrator and designer working in comics, kid’s books, and surface design. Much of my work is illustrated, but I’m incorporating more collage these days, and it seems to be clicking. I also like to make work quickly to take advantage of my excitement and get momentum going. The hardest part for me is starting and keeping the momentum going. Collage is helpful for that. It’s less intimidating to take some pictures, cut them out in photoshop, and start arranging. I’m proud of how far my work has come in the last several years. My goal was to break away from fan art and start creating original concepts. There was money in fan art for sure, but it wasn’t sustainable or creatively fulfilling. I’m also proud of all the work I’ve done to start culling my niche, learning where my work fits in the market, and my values as a creative.

Before we let you go, we’ve got to ask if you have any advice for those who are just starting out?
Things take time. Usually much longer than you’d like them to, but that’s ok. Don’t compare yourself to someone else’s journey. Create things that make you happy, and follow people with good advice: Andy J Pizza, Lisa Congdon, read the War of Art and How to Steal Like an Artist, and watch THE GAP by Ira Glass (2min).

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Image Credits:

Photographer Melissa McClure

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