Meet Kirbi. A vintage inspired illustrator living in the Detroit area. Kirbi Fagan is an award-winning book cover illustrator specializes in creating art for young readers. Her illustrations are known for their magic themes, vintage textures, bright colors, and powerful characters. She received her bachelor’s degree in Illustration from Kendall College of Art and Design. Kirbi lives by two words… “spread joy.”

Kirbi teaches workshops for both kids and adults, performs live art demonstrations and hosts a theatrical life drawing event for local artists. She is active in the illustration community both online and at large.  She has participated and curated art shows and artistic events with “Art Prize,” “Art.Downtown,” Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Square Peg Studios and more. When not painting, Kirbi enjoys writing stories, spending time with her family and rollerblading with her dog, Sophie. She is a hand lettering enthusiast and a self-taught cartographer.

Kirbi says, “I’m in it with my whole heart.”

To learn more about Kirbi or to see more of her amazing illustrations, follow any of the links below:


…. and now for our exclusive interview with Kirbi

How would you describe your art?
Always retro-inspired. Cheerful sometimes mysterious… usually involving some kind of magic. I use a variety of materials to create my work. Photoshop, gouache, acrylic, airbrush and colored pencil.

How long have you been an artist and how did you become an artist?
I’ve always wanted to be an artist. What kind of artist was always the question. I was crafty but wasn’t interested in drawing or painting until high school. At Kendall College of Art and Design I found illustration, a perfect fit. I’ve been hustling ever since.

What is your favorite medium and why?
Gouache. It’s unpredictable at times. I’m obsessed with its texture and it’s ability to lift off the page with water. Feels like frosting when it comes out of the tube.

kirbi-fagan (1)Pick one work of art from your portfolio and tell us the story behind it. Why does this piece have meaning to you? What steps did you take to create the piece?
“Tagged” is a recent sample I did. It’s not so much the image that has meaning to me but it was one of those pieces that came out exactly like I had imagined in the sketching stage. The style really feels like “me” and I’m proud of the emotion of the story coming through. Ironically, the story this was created for was about a young artist who finds his voice. And gosh, aren’t those green colors just FUN?

Tell us about one medium, technique or style that you would like to try working with (that you have not tried before) and why you would like to try this.
Lots of folks have been painting and drawing on mylar. It always looks so expressive. I have a few small sample sheets but it’s just in the drawer for now.

How do you make time for art?
Making art is my primary income, so the work must get done. I have found that I do my best work very early in the morning when everything is quiet. I try to arrange my tasks around this time of productivity. I’m wildly determined and highly focused, I believe short 2-3 hour burst are more productive for me than long, bored, distracted hours.

If you could imagine the “perfect art day” for yourself, what would it be like?
Snowed in. PJ’s on. A preliminary drawing ready to paint and a cup of tea that never gets cold.

If you could spend 24 hours with one artist, living or historical, who would you want to spend the day with and why? What would the two of you do?
There are hundreds of artists I admire but Norman Rockwell is an illustration legend. I’d love to see how he works with his models, I too use photography as reference for my paintings. I supposed I’d be too busy asking questions to do much of anything at all!

Do you have any tips or advice for aspiring artists?
Just make something already! And if you do so with passion and enthusiasm others will be enthusiastic about it too. Creating art takes courage, cast away all doubt… everyone wants you to succeed.

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