Prove your humanity

Grok Magazine sits down with Kel Loveday, a second-year student who’s currently studying a major in Creative Writing and a minor in Illustration, as we begin to learn about their various achievements as an artist, accompanied by their contributions to Curtin Illustration Club and Curtin Writers Club’s Coze publication.

To start things off, we ask Kel about how and when their love for the creative arts first developed. “I’ve been drawing for as long as I can remember. As a kid, half of my time was spent out in the back patio with a bunch of paints, but I didn’t start taking art seriously until half-way through high school.” Kel then goes on to explain how they always knew that they wanted a career in creative writing, but as their drawing abilities improved alongside it, they ultimately decided to take on both forms of art.

Our conversation shifts onto the preliminary response Kel received after telling their family that they wanted to pursue art as a profession. “So, my parents are both scientists. My dad’s a chemical process engineer, while my mum has a PhD in sustainability. My brother’s also an engineer, so their initial reaction was like “that’s nice dear… how about you do that as a hobby and then get a job in the sciences?”” Giggling while reminiscing about their family’s early response, Kel admits that since they were vaguely interested in occupational therapy, their parents had tried to push them into that line of work. However, after spending some time under a creative arts tent during an open-day which their mother had brought them to, they only felt more adamant about pursuing a creative path.

It wasn’t until they had their very first stall in a convention, that Kel’s parents started to change their perspective on their visionary ambitions. “My parents saw that I was actually making money from my art – and it was a decent amount of money too.”

In addition to their parents’ approval, they received their first commission through networking during their last year of high school. It was a large six-person family portrait, which managed to earn them an incredible amount of money, despite them being so young in age.

“I earned $2000 from painting that big portrait.”

Image Credit: Kate Loveday

Besides receiving opportunities to paint at their casual job as an art-teacher, while also finding the time to dabble in clay-sculpting, Kel expresses how they always loved to make things out of cardboard boxes. “My parents have this running joke about waking up to the sound of sticky-tape, because I’d always be constructing some sort of crafty thing in my bedroom late at night.” Laughing about this habit of theirs, they then tell us about how they once constructed a whole cardboard village for their Polly Pocket dolls. “I got really bored and wasn’t particularly social. Even now, I’m still an introvert who loves my alone-time. But as a kid, I would just create things in my bedroom because it sounded like a lot of fun.”

Moving on, we begin to inquire Kel about their various contributions to Curtin Illustration Club and Curtin Writers Club, followed by how their experience with the two clubs have benefitted their artwork. “I found that the really useful thing with CIC, as well as doing illustrations for CWC’s Coze, was that they both give you industry experience with working on a design brief, collaborating with people who you don’t know, while also meeting deadlines.”

Wanting to expand further on the industry subject, we ask Kel if they have any concerns with the competitive nature of the art industry. “I’ll occasionally have mild existential crises about what I’m doing with my life, as I am committing myself to an industry where almost nothing is stable.” Despite having a fear of the unknown, specifically with where they might end up career-wise, Kel often has to reassure themselves that everything will eventually work out.

“I’ve found that you need to set your intention with “I’m going to make this my career”… and then you’ll find a way to make it your career.”

Our conversation with Kel progresses onto their experience with managing platforms on social media – particularly, their Instagram, YouTube and Etsy pages. “It’s actually a lot harder to build a platform than people think. It’s not like you’ll post artwork and suddenly get heaps of followers. A lot of the time, you’ll post something, and then be like “oh cool, no one saw that.”” Being capable of perceiving the advantages and disadvantages that social media tends to provide, they communicate the importance of not allowing your emotions to be influenced by the numbers of likes and followers. “Although it was a process, I’ve gotten to the point now where I’ll just post something because I like it and I’m proud of it. If no one sees it, then that’s fine.”

Regarding their artistic achievements outside of Curtin University, we question Kel about the number of conventions they’ve managed to participate in, as well as their personal experience with managing their own stalls. “I’ve been to three conventions so far. The first one was Kai-Con, the second was Genghis-Con, and the most recent one was Hoshi-Con – which turned out to be really good.” Smiling, they continue to describe how positive their attendance was at Hoshi-Con, especially since they presented a wider variation of products for purchase.

“It really blew my mind in terms of how much profit I made from Hoshi-Con. I think I made around $1900 of sales, but since I spent about $700 on buying the stall and ordering products, I ended up making $1200 of profit.”

Image Credit: Kate Loveday

Nearing the end of our discussion, we ask Kel about what they plan on doing after they finish their course. “The areas that I’m currently looking at are either concept art or book illustration, as well as doing commissions for people. I’m kind of leaning more towards book illustration because I’m also doing creative writing, and I believe those two would work nicely together.”

Subsequent to telling us about their future aspirations, Grok Magazine inquires Kel about whether they have any advice for aspiring artists who are either current students or who are planning on studying creative arts at Curtin University. “If you’re coming to Curtin, join the illustration club! It’s really good to have a community around you, especially when you attend meetups that provide you with regular drawing practice.”

At the end of this month, Kel Loveday will have their own stall for the upcoming Tokyo Alley convention that is scheduled to occur on the 28th of May 2022, from 10:00am to 5:00pm at Curtin Stadium. If you would like to check out some of their work, feel free to attend! Otherwise, you can support Kel by following them on Instagram (@kel_sticks), subscribing to their YouTube channel (Kel Sticks) or even browsing their Etsy (KelSticks) for products you might be interested in purchasing.