Being An Eco-friendly Artist- Artist Series: Kelly Bjork

Being An Eco-friendly Artist- Artist Series: Kelly Bjork

The creative process behind a masterpiece can leave behind a substantial amount of damage to the environment; Innovator and Seattle based illustrator, Kelly Bjork joined the Rainforest Alliance Certified paper goods company, Pilgrim Paper Co. to help combat environmental damage. Alongside the founder and close friend, Teresa Grasseschi, Kelly involved herself and her illustrations in a business that revolves around producing ethical illustrations, cards, and posters made from soy-based inks, whilst keeping production local.

Kelly explains, "Teresa and I have known each other for years and our business relationship grew very organically. The best businesses really reflect the core of those who own and operate them. Teresa and I believe that everyday paper products should be work you want to keep around, created sustainably and thoughtfully. 

Teresa and I love working together and creating products that everyone can afford and use. We wanted to do something and we decided to go for it. I mean, why not go after your dreams, right?!"

In today's society, materials are readily available and often that is at the cost of the environment. Taking into consideration globalisation and how easy it is to source materials, there is no reason why one cannot source art resources ethically and affordably- without compromising the environment's welfare;

"It is extremely important for me as an artist to be environmentally conscious, I try my best to do my small part; it is always something that can be improved upon and something I'll continue to work on.

I wouldn't say that only millennial artists take resources for granted, I would say that is a person-by-person basis. I think it's good for everyone to think about the resources they use and how they're made to realise their impact on the environment and how long they're realistically going to be around. It is definitely something that we all need to think about more."

In company with environmental activism, Kelly produces powerful illustrations that hold great significance to the people of her community. "My inspiration comes from the people around me and their personal environments. I'm constantly seeing small, beautiful moments that I want to make into paintings for my personal work; and this is because I'm surrounded by some of the greatest, most tender, loving humans. I've also made it a goal to prioritise making personal work no matter how busy the commercial side of illustrating gets. It's good for me to remember that making my own work really makes me feel sane, and also helps influence and better my commercial work.

I'd say that one of my favourite pieces is Deep-Water Ladies (seen below), which is a pool scene full of ladies. This piece is very personal to me as it is the women from the water aerobics class I take at my local YMCA. I love the support these women offer each other inside and outside of the Y. I love listening to their conversations in the locker room and how loving they are to one another. It helped me focus directly on my community; especially the diverse, strong females I'm surrounded by.

My work focuses on portraiture and intimacy between loved ones and objects. I want to show the tenderness that can be experienced in this world through selective simplicity and tiny details. With our current socio-political climate, I think it is important to recognise these often unnoticed moments in our daily lives and to remember that they exist. My paintings help me move forward openly, by presenting what is good in our world."

Want to find out more about the artist?

Kelly's solo show 'Gentle Cravings', featuring 14 new paintings, opens at ZINC Contemporary art gallery in Seattle's Pioneer Square on May 3, 2018, 5-8pm until June 2, 2018.

Or check out her websiteInstagram, and Facebook for more of her work.

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