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Meet Kim McMahon of California Institute of the Arts in Santa Clarita

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kim McMahon.

Kim, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
I was born in Munich, Germany, where me and my sister got into drawing since a very young age. An artist we both looked up to made us go drawing in the zoo and at figure drawing sessions when we were about 13, and the year before we got to apply to CalArts, we got to travel to places like Thailand and Rome to draw. And that is where I developed my love for drawing houses and environments, I think.

When the CalArts Character Animation program accepted me, I soon realized that drawing and designing environments and layouts is what I really loved doing and want to do for a job, but doing comics and drawing vampire ladies will always be my comfort zone in drawing and I hope to never give that up either. At the moment, I am taking a gap year at CalArts due to the virus, doing some freelance layout work for Netflix and working on some personal art and some more comics, one of them about social distancing even got featured in the Washington Post a few months back. I am not sure where exactly I am heading, all I know that this has been very fun so far!

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
I was very lucky to always have a family that supported my love in art. But getting into drawing together with my identical twin sister Maya in the beginning was difficult. As twins, we will always have some sort of competition going on since we are just always being compared. Even though we love each other and always had a close relationship, at times we both got so obsessive about beating the other one in every aspect of our life somehow that everything became an unhealthy competition.

Drawing as a simple hobby became trying to get up earlier than the other one and going to bed later and trying to always put more effort into drawing and taking secret lessons just to become the twin thats better in drawing, and what started as the simple wish of being the slightly skinnier twin soon turned into a pretty bad eating disorder that had both of us end up in hospitals. We both managed to get out of that toxic mindest luckily, and in a way that unhealthy competition is what got us into CalArts. But we are still working on trying to let each other live separate lives and helping each other as opposed to hoping the other one fails.

Please tell us more about your art.
Even though what I want to do professionally is designing environments and backgrounds and layouts for animated Feature Films, what I really love doing is going out and drawing animals or cool places in my sketchbook, or making comics about my thoughts and feelings. Drawing in my sketchbook is almost meditative for me and it helps me connect with my initial love for drawing, and doing comics is fun because it helps me connect with my followers on Instagram that find them relatable and comics is just a great way to get a message across.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
Success for me is finding a way to make a hobby a job without losing the love or joy in it. I always get worried seeing people in the industry that grew to hating drawing and only use it as a tool to make money now. I aspire to become one of these people that are over eighty years old and still go out drawing and learning and pushing themselves because they still love what they do.

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