Employee Spotlight

Kyera Kirk

Designer // Bachelor's Degree in Interactive Design

How would you describe your personal style of design, and how has it evolved over time?

My personal style is seemingly ever-changing because I love to experiment. My earliest drawings were stick-figure depictions of my family and zoo animals. Then came the Sailor Moon inspired magic girl phase. In middle school, I was all about fashion illustration. In high school, my focus shifted to realistic portrait art, and by my second year of college, I pivoted the most when I delved into abstract, nature-inspired art. The intriguing diatom drawings of Ernst Haeckel inspired me for months, but my style inevitably changed again. After binge-watching a few anime series over the summer of 2018, I returned to the cartoon style. In the following year, I drafted a children’s book, and for the first time, I started drawing characters digitally using the pen tool in Adobe Illustrator. After graduating, my parents gave me an incredible gift—an iPad Pro. With nearly a year of practice, character sketches on my iPad have begun to feel natural.

Some artists will point to a specific cartoon or comic from their childhood that ignited their passion for art. What were some of your earliest inspirations?

I don’t think there was a show on Cartoon Network or Nickelodeon in the mid-2000s that I didn’t watch. I was introduced to a myriad of visually unique and exciting shows like Codename: Kids Next Door, Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends, and The Grim Adventures of Billy & Mandy.  I also played a fair share of video games with my siblings, and I can vividly remember tracing the cover of Sonic Adventure 2: Battle with sparkly gel pens in my spiral notebook. I didn’t read comics, but some of my favorite children’s books were Junie B. Jones by Barbara Park, No, David! and A Bad Case of Stripes by David Shannon.

These days, where do you draw inspiration from?

While I still take inspiration from some of the shows I watched as a child, I’ve started reading webcomics and watching more animated shows and movies. I just want my characters to look fluid and expressive. The novels I read in school are stories that have had the most impact on how I think about writing a message for an audience to analyze and explore. Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry and its sequel Let the Circle Be Unbroken by Mildred D. Taylor was probably the first mature novel I ever read. It’s a story that’s stuck with me not only because it was a great story with characters that felt real, but it impacted me emotionally. I want to write something that stirs the audience’s emotions and keeps them anticipating to the end. In well-known novels like Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep and Cervantes’ Don Quixote,  I admire how the author conveys complex themes through the effective use of literary devices and thorough contextual details. I think comics convey powerful messages, too, but more so through depictions of actions than descriptions of actions.

You’ve said before that you’d love to start a comic in the future. How do you envision your comic in terms of design, characters, and storytelling?

It definitely hasn’t been a linear process. I began by creating a storyline from several character sketches I drew in college. The story, which was originally a comedy set in the early 1900s, morphed into a late 50s/early 60s action/adventure with elements of science fiction. It features a crew of odd yet endearing characters that find commonality in their personal struggles in Civil Rights era America.

I’m interested to know more about how your comic evolved over time, as it seems to have taken quite a thematic shift.

History was my second favorite subject next to English Lit. That’s why I initially set the story in the Victorian era (which was actually pretty hard considering I knew next to nothing about this time period. It just looked really cool in Sherlock Holmes, one of my all-time favorite movies).

I never thought much about the Civil Rights Movement beyond school, but when I do think about it, it’s something that I reflect on in awe -  a mix of terror and reverence for the people who fought for justice. Only recently I realized that I could express this awe through my own passions. With the events that transpired in 2020, I began to rethink my story. A few weeks ago, while drawing out my characters,  I asked myself, why not focus on a topic I can relate to a bit more - something that’s more mature, meaningful, and socially relevant today?

I attempted a children’s book about two years ago, but I lost interest after several months. The upbeat, cheerfulness I was portraying felt very contrived. It just wasn’t for me. I find discussions about deeper subject matter with people my age more fulfilling, so that inspired a change in subject matter as well.

Besides graphic design, what other design fields spark your interest?

Animation—I used to say that I want to become an animator so that I can “bring my characters to life.” Still an interest I’d like to pursue someday. The good thing about that is comics and animation go hand in hand.

Since you started at Krumware, what has been the hardest obstacle to overcome?

I’d say the dev and design workflow has been one of the most important things I’ve had to learn in the first five months at Krumware. I never realized how much I’d be working directly with the development team. It was mentioned in my design program in college, but our ability to put it in practice was limited, of course. I feel that I’d understand the capabilities of my designs better if I had substantial knowledge of software development.

Do you have any personal and/or professional goals for the near future? Longterm?

I want to continue to grow into my profession as a designer. I would love to get to the point where I’m leading projects and helping others designers learn the mechanics of their role and be major contributors to our team effort. I also have plans to pursue a Master’s degree in Computer Science or a UX-related study. In my spare time, I’d like to develop my skills and familiarity with Adobe software programs and begin a digital comic.

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