maker: kelly hickenbottom of let’s die friends


let us introduce you to kelly hickenbottom of let’s die friends for our maker weekly! kelly is an illustrator/designer for paul frank who debuted her own line of laser-cut wooden brooches, hand-sewn plushies and totes at patchwork indie art & craft festival long beach.  a quick peek into the mind of a designer who draws hearts, rainbows and bleeding unicorns in equal measure…. 

please introduce yourself…

hellooo! my name is kelly hickenbottom. i live in aliso viejo which is in orange county. i also grew up around here. i am married to kyle. we have an adorable 17 month old daughter named zoey, and a cat named miso.

what do you make or do?

i am an illustrator/graphic designer. my 2 big loves in the art/design world are textile prints (both home and fashion) and accessories, so lately i’ve been trying to marry the two. websites like spoonflower help me make that dream a reality because i can draw and create a print, have that printed onto fabric, and then make things out of it! i make other odds and ends too. 

where can we find your creations?

you can find me on my blog let’s die friends and soon on etsy.

kelly hickenbottom let’s die friends

how long have you been creating and is it your full-time job?

i have been creating for as long as i can remember. every one says that, huh? but it’s true! when i was a little girl, i would draw my dream outfits and pretend i was a fashion designer. in 6th grade, i got chosen to draw the cover of our 6th grade yearbook. in junior high, i started taking pictures of my friends and decided i wanted to be a fashion photographer. in high school, i drew a lot and made zines. and, for a couple years, i was the video editor of our school’s weekly news show – it would play on friday mornings during homeroom. i even dressed pretty goofy and thought about going to fidm. after high school, i dabbled in graphics and web design. this was when websites were just made with basic html. i can’t do that stuff now. i knew that i wanted to do something creative but also make money, so i decided to major in graphic design.

kelly hickenbottom let’s die friends

i got my bfa in graphic design and got a job working for a clothing company, which is perfect for me since i have always loved clothes and accessories. for the past 6 years, my full-time job has been as an illustrator/graphic designer at paul frank. it is awesome. i was a fan of the brand before i started working there, so it was a dream to be hired. i get to draw all day and get that satisfying feeling when i see someone wearing something i made. i always want to say, “hey! i made that!” but that would be awkward for everyone, so i don’t. but i probably stare and look like a creep.

kelly hickenbottom let’s die friends

when you’re not making things, what do you do?

my number one priority is my family. i love being married, and i love being a mom. anything i do with them is fun!

is creativity a luxury or a necessity for you?

i guess it would be a necessity. even when i’m not at work, i still manage to find something to work on- whether it’s a drawing or a household decorating project. i can’t not have some sort of project going on.

kelly hickenbottom let’s die friends

what obstacles have you had to overcome to lead a creative life?

time! i wish there were more hours in the day. since i have a full time creative job working for someone else, i have to work on my own stuff in bits and pieces – a half hour before work, my lunch break, in the evening after the kiddo goes to bed. sometimes that’s hard. just when i’m getting “in the zone” and really focused, it’s time to stop.

did someone in your family, a friend or teacher introduce you to your creative side or have they helped you along the way?

i learned a lot about design from my friend ben soto. i learned more from working with him than i did from going to school! really, all of my friends are creative and being around them is very inspiring.

where do you find inspiration?

everywhere! books, magazines, blogs, pinterest, music, movies, my friends, my love of all things a little bit spooky and macabre, things from the past, things from my past, fashion, interior design, looking at things at flea markets and antique stores…

what’s on the horizon for you and what you do?

i am totally playing it by ear. i am new to craft fairs and trying to sell things i make, so i hope everything works out. i am very honored to be a part of patchwork. i was convinced my application would just get looked over and thrown in the “no” pile!

kelly hickenbottom let’s die friends

if money wasn’t an issue, how would your life change with regards to your art?

i would do an entire clothing and accessories line. i would do things for the home like bedding, graphic pillows, etc., and finally, i would open up a cute little boutique and sell a little bit of everything i love. and maybe there would be studio space in the back.

what would be your perfect day off?

all i know is that it would involve nachos and the maury show (mopo, if you will).

what inspiring advice would you give to other creatives?

if you feel lost, and you want to make things but you don’t know what or where to start, just make everything.  keep making lots of different things, even make the same things over and over if you have to. one day, your vision will become a little more clear and you will have something that is yours.

kelly hickenbottom let’s die friends

-varci h.

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