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Meet The Artist: Q&A With Kiwi Calhoun

Meet Artsplosure 2020 Official Artist Kiwi Calhoun!

When did you start creating art?

“As soon as I could hold a crayon, I was drawing and making up stories! And I have no intention of stopping anytime soon.”

What inspires your art?

“I am inspired by: long hikes in nature, children’s book illustrations, well-designed chairs, good stories, cups that feel good to hold in my hands, small acts of kindness, bright colors, cartoons, and too many other random things to name.”

Who are some other artists who have influenced your work?

“I am currently the Kids Department manager over at Quail Ridge Books, so I am surrounded by beautiful illustrations and stories every day— this is where I find a lot of inspiration nowadays. Currently, some of my favorite illustrators include: Jillian Tamaki, Kat Leyh, Matthew Forsyth, and Beatrice Alemagna. They are all masters of telling meaningful stories through pictures, and each have such distinctive styles.”

What would you say is your specialty?

“My specialty is storytelling through ceramics! Specifically, storytelling through sgraffito— it’s a technique used in ceramics where pigment is scratched off the surface of raw clay to make an image. You only get one chance to make the mark you want, so there’s no room for hesitation. I’ve never been so obsessed with a technique before. Focusing on sgraffito has tremendously improved my drawing capabilities, both on clay and on paper.”

What advice would you give to budding artists?

“Budding artists: there is a place for you. Keep making, keep practicing, keep experimenting. Strive to be and do better (as a person and as an artist). Notice everything around you. Read as much as you can, and learn about everything you can. You never know what might inspire you. You do not need to be a doctor or lawyer when you grow up. Making art is a real job. Art changes lives, and it is worth making. Also: Art is hard work, so work hard.”

Describe the process behind creating this year’s Artsplosure artwork.

“The art I made for Artsplosure was inspired by the mural on Morgan St that I painted for the ARTivation project— and that mural piece actually started as a drawing I had made months before. It was the first time I felt that I had truly expressed my own unique illustration style. The Artsplosure art was created digitally which was a huge learning curve for me! Before this project, I had only used traditional mediums to draw (like pencils and pens). This process has humbled me and made me really admire digital artists.”

What do you hope that people take away from your artwork?

“When you look at this artwork, I hope you can see yourself— or a part of yourself— in it. I want you to look at this piece and know that you are wanted, that you have creative potential, and that there is a place for you here: in Raleigh and in the global art community. I strongly believe in Artsplosure’s motto of ‘Art for all,’ and hope this year’s art reflects that.”

Where can people go to follow your work?

Follow me on Instagram: @kiwicalhoun ! Website is coming soon!

Kiwi Calhoun carrying mugs
Kiwi Calhoun drawing
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