We asked Kimberly Kitchens about her style, her journey as an artist, and about her mental health advocacy.
Tell us about your Copic Colors piece for October.
I really loved the design I made last year's Witchtober for the prompt 'Frankenstein Witch'. I wanted to redraw her again with October's #CopicColors because I feel Frankenstein doesn't get enough love and most certain his bride gets even less attention.
Tell us a little about yourself.
Howdy! My name is Kimberly. My mom named me this from a character off the Soap Opera show called “Days of Our Lives”. Total 90’s move on her part. Haha. I was born in central California and spent most of my younger years in Germany, and then in my tween years, I moved. A lot. I consider myself to be from Washington State. Just feels like home to me the very first time I ever got to see it and I have a lot of pride for WA. Puyallup, WA will always and forever be my home and be where I am from. No one can change my mind on that.
How did your journey as an artist begin?
Well, my mom's first memory of me drawing was at age three. She said she came into the dining room and saw I had taken those scented markers of the 1990’s and drew alllllllll over the walls. She was furious, but as she told me it was short-lived because it was impressive for a three year-old. From there on, she always encouraged me to keep drawing and push myself to grow. I have a lot to thank her for.
How would you describe your style and how did you develop it?
For about the past 7-8 years, my style has changed a lot from doing really simple and cute to doing semi-realism, purely because I was struggling trying to find a style to call my own. I’ve since gone way back to the way my style was in my late teen years. I draw along the lines of shoujo mixed with CLAMP as inspiration. I’ve always adored Makona’s work from the group CLAMP. She puts so much detail in her pieces and I feel the more detail there is, the more you have to look at and admire. I do the same thing because I just love adding details everywhere and giving the viewer something to just sit and stare at all while. It's so rewarding to see people notice all the hard work I put into each of my own pieces of work.
You mentioned you're a big mental health advocate. If you're comfortable sharing, how has this affected your life and influenced you as an artist?
After battling some mental health issues for many years, I opted to be hospitalized in early 2015. Best. Six. Days. Of my life. Ever. I came out with a whole new understanding about myself and started medication along with individual therapy where I was diagnosed with severe depression, generalized anxiety disorder, and borderline personality disorder. I had done many art pieces to help break stigma around mental health while encouraging people seek treatment because at the end of the day, your mental health, I feel, is more important than physical health. Mental health can do not only emotional damage to yourself and those around you but can do physical damage, too.
This brings me to answering how this has affected me as an artist. Because I have a really bad case of GAD, my hands shake all the time. It’s honestly one of the main reasons why I’ve gone back to putting a lot detail into my work. Because my hands shake all the time, my lines are really never perfect if you look closely at it. So I use my eye for detail to hide all the shaky lines so you’re distracted from all my mess ups (why it amazes me sometimes when people say “your lines look so clean” haha). Even in my Witchtober pieces of this year, if you look really close at the card borders you can see it is not perfectly even nor truly straight. Because… I’m in a constant state of fight or flight.
I will say though, my mental health is encouraging me to keep drawing detailed work because it also therapeutic for me. I can distract myself from reality just by focusing all of my attention to making sure every detail is perfect to my standards.
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us. We have to ask - how did you discover Copic Markers?
I can keep this one short because I know I’ve typed up a freaking novel answering these questions. I was introduced to Copics by to people I knew from the high school I went to (that I dropped out from). I was working with Roseart pencils for the longest time and when my friends came over to draw, one of them pretty much handed me her case of markers and was like “You HAVE to use these. Your work would look so much better!”. Haven’t gone back since and this was in 2007 so, been using Copics for well over 10 years.
For more of Kimberly's work, follow her on Instgram and on Etsy. Her YouTube channel and Patreon will be launching soon!