Five questions to Kim Knoll

Five questions to Kim Knoll

Kim Knoll (b. 1979) is an American contemporary artist with a BFA in Visual Communications based in Chicago. She developed her painting style from her experience as a graphic designer. Within one year of pursuing painting as a personal endeavor, Kim's work quickly gained recognition from collectors, art consultants, and interior designers, allowing her to focus on painting full-time. Today, Kim produces original paintings and prints for collectors, designers and the luxury hospitality market worldwide.How did you get into art?

All I wanted to do as a kid was draw and color. I entered every coloring contest I could, I drew my own coloring books, and I joined an extracurricular art school where I was trained on perspective and drawing, alongside art classes at public school. My high school art teacher said if I wanted to make a living doing art, I should be a graphic designer. I trusted his advice and forged a path in graphic design, graduating from a university with that degree. I spent the next 19 years as a professional graphic designer with 11 of those years leading my own branding and design studio. In 2016 I was working on a new branding project and wanted to use watercolor washes as a texture in their visual identity so I bought the supplies and dove in. I was hooked. I loved everything about it so I bought more supplies and pursued painting as a personal project. At this same time, I was growing tired of sitting in a chair and staring at a screen all day. Within just a couple months, people were buying my paintings through social media. Knowing people wanted to buy them, my husband and I built a website for my paintings over a weekend. After splitting my time between painting and design for years, I was in the fortunate position to be able to choose painting as my full time focus, so my husband and I closed the doors to our branding and design studio. I have no regrets!

How would you describe your style? What makes your work special?

My style is definitely influenced by my background and aesthetic with graphic design. With design, I'm very into minimalism and stripping complex ideas down to basic forms. I use that same principle with my paintings in an abstract manner. I do this using shapes, gestures, textures and color. I also love juxtaposing opposites—crisp lines and freehand lines, light and dark, perfectionism and humanism, whimsy and structure, and even technology and tradition. I work from rolls of watercolor paper and tear the edges by hand to make each unique. How do you go about developing your work?

It all depends on my mood. Sometimes I sketch out an entire painting and then paint it. Sometimes I just start painting the first layer without thinking about it, take a photo of it, and sketch ideas for more layers using my iPad. Sometimes I don't do any sketching and just follow my intuition with each layer. Most of my paintings have been planned during one of the stages of creating them. A lot of my creativity comes out on the iPad. It's a great way for me to explore a lot of ideas without committing to any of them. It's also not a precious piece of paper that I've taken the time to cut and stretch, allowing me to have more freedom of expression without any fears of ruining it. My paintings use some combination of watercolor, acrylic, ink, spray paint, graphite or charcoal and I use a lot of tape to mask off certain areas. I love watching paint dry and touching up little areas that I don't like before it's too late. I work on 1-3 paintings at a time and give them my full attention until they are done. If I'm in the right mindset, I can finish a painting in less than a week, but it usually takes 2-4 weeks from start to finish.Who or what influences you?

My main influences are living in an urban environment, being in nature, thinking like a graphic designer, letting my bottled emotions out, seeing art and design in museums and media, learning from others, and acting on my curiosity. In each of our unique life experiences, I think we absorb more than we know that becomes a part of us unconsciously and it's let out of our subconscious through the creative process. I'm sure there are a lot more factors that influence me that I'm unaware of. Consciously, I reflect on nature a lot while making my work and want that to be what comes through the most. I love the idea of my paintings providing a moment of rest or intrigue, and giving the viewer a mental escape.

Make us curious. What are you planning to do next?

Recently, I realized I've been painting on a large scale for a while and because of it, I'm a bit lost when it comes to a really small scale. I also tend to paint obsessively for a few months straight and then take too long of a break from painting that I end up feeling rusty. To combat both, I will make a 6x8" painting every day I'm in the studio until the end of the year without worrying if it’s terrible or worthy of selling. I'm interested to see how my ideas evolve, how they influence my future work, and what I'm going to do with them when they're done. I'm going to start this project as soon as I'm done preparing for Artexpo New York. Anyone who's going to the show can find me in booth 605 from April 4-7 at Pier 36 :)Learn more about the artist: