Stephen Kissel - Illustrator
Stephen Kissel is an illustrator with a background in graphic design, currently residing in Lynchburg, VA. He’s most recently worked with clients such as Blik Surface Graphics, Thomas Jefferson's Poplar Forest, as well as the drawing community, Doodlers Anonymous.
He currently serves on the board for the James River Council for the Arts & Humanities, as well as working as the Events and Media Manager for Riverviews Artspace.
When did you know you wanted to be an artist?
As a kid, I was constantly drawing and creating stories, so I think I had always hoped I would continue doing it as an adult. I think ideally I wanted to work in animation or comics somehow. (Maybe those will still be an option down the road!)
How does your personal story/background influence your work?
I’ve been really lucky. I can’t think of a time where I haven’t been encouraged to keep pursuing art, whether it be from family, friends, or teachers. So that’s kept me going . . . helping me try to be more optimistic and have a bit of fun in my work.
Which of your works are you most proud of?
The piece I created for Art on Main is actually one of my favorites. I loved being involved in a public art project, while potentially helping out the local community at the same time. It was also a great opportunity to push myself, as I hadn’t worked in quite that large of a scale before.
What is the hardest part about being a professional artist?
For a lot of us (including myself), I think self doubt can be one of the toughest things to deal with. Whether you’re good enough, whether you’re following the right path, and so on . . . you just have to work through it and keep making and sharing things. It seems to be the best way to get past it.
Who are other artists that inspire you?
There’s way too many to name, but I’ll try to narrow it down! Andy J. Miller has been a big influence, not just for his work, but his enthusiasm and need to bring great advice to fellow artists. His podcast, Creative Pep Talk, is a must listen-to.
Lately, I’ve also been really into the work of Roger Duvoisin and pretty much anything by Ed Emberley. Both of whom have made some of the most beautiful picture books you’ll find. Just looking through them gives me a lot to aspire to!