Today we’d like to introduce you to Kirby Israelson.
Kirby, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
There’s one question I’ve been asked throughout my life that I have always known the answer to, no matter what stage of my life I happened to be in, and that’s, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” My response has always simply been, “An artist.”
My parents swear they knew I was going to be an artist when I started drawing fingers and toes on my stick figure sketches as a kid, and I swear that I have always had that goal in my heart for as long as I can remember—but since my memory of my childhood is shoddy at best, that might not be as impressive. The specifics of my artistic career have often fluctuated—moving fluidly between fine artist, art teacher, concept designer, book illustrator, and beyond—but the overarching theme has remained the same. Making art.
Art has always been my compass, guiding me throughout multiple interests and genres with borderline obsessive zeal because, to me, that’s what art is. Art is beautiful and passionate, but unforgiving in its hunger to learn more, to do more, to be more. I must continually create, no matter how large or small the project may seem, and because of that, each day I discover a new way to make art. And I love it.
This obsession has definitely taken me on some weird turns and wild rides (such as swearing that I would never work for myself because it’s too much stress to then starting my own business the day I graduated college and realizing that I’ve technically been working for myself since high school) but that’s definitely part of the journey.
Art is alive. It is never still. And I plan on spending the rest of my life finding out where it’s going.
Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Is anything ever a smooth road? I feel like even the simplest things can be a struggle these days, but I also think that is the reason accomplishments feel so satisfying—because you worked hard for it.
I’ve faced a variety of struggles over the years, both in art and in life. From blatant sexism to my sometimes-abrasive personality, there have been external and internal obstacles keeping me from success. I remember one of my teachers explaining that in order to succeed as an artist, arrogance is almost as important as talent because you need to utterly and truly believe in your art to convince others to feel the same.
That when faced with a barrier in your path you need to stubbornly push through it. You need to convince yourself that it isn’t even there, to never acknowledge that something is blocking your progress. And that you need to push back harder than they think you can until eventually, there’s no longer any resistance.
Luckily, it just so happens that I am an incredibly stubborn person, with just the right amount of arrogance, who believes that with a strong sense of will even I won’t be able to get in the way of my success. To remind myself of that fact each and every day, I have a tattoo that states, “But you forget that in your fairy tale, I’m the wolf.”
Life is all about what you make it. I will never be a damsel in distress, but I will always be a force to be reckoned with.
Alright – so let’s talk business. Tell us about Just Kirby – what should we know?
Just Kirby is simply that: me. An overly-hard worker who takes pride in everything she does and is looking to make the world a prettier place. Someone who gets bored easily so she is constantly learning new ways of entertaining herself and creating art.
A woman who refuses to give up and refuses to turn in a piece of art, work, or project that she isn’t entirely proud of. An intelligent, complex, bizarre, possibly-dangerous-yet-entirely charismatic being who likes to pretend she isn’t nice but is truly a softy for those she loves and those that need love. She is weird, but you’ll love it.
In the business side of things, Just Kirby is adding Kirby to your team. It is taking all of the above and making it work for you, and for your success. She will fall in love with your brand and mold it to perfection. She will be fiercely loyal to your product and take pride in what you create. She will be your cheerleader and share your message to the world.
She will take work off of your plate and stress out of your life. And—of course—she will make you pretty. Well, I mean I will.
Any shoutouts? Who else deserves credit in this story – who has played a meaningful role?
In a world where being an artist is not typically viewed as a stable career choice, I have to say that my parents have always been my biggest fan and have always supported my decision. They’ve bought me art supply sets, helped me take extra art classes, gone with me to museums and art galleries, and have always, always been proud of me, and that has made a world of difference.
My entire family (which is large, I am Mexican, after all) has been a constant source of support, and I know that everything I’ve done has been a joint effort between the lot of us.
And of course, the Davis Family, the LAX Coastal Chamber of Commerce, my art teachers from Herbert Hoover High School and Pasadena City College, and my alma mater Otis College of Art and Design, who have all given me the knowledge and resources to turn my obsessive passion into a career.
Lastly, my heart, the man who is not only the love of my life but who keeps me from working myself to death. (Because without him I probably would).
- Website: www.justkirby.me
- Phone: 818.471.8134
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: http://instagram.com/kirbyrockssocks
Kirby Israelson & Angela Clouse