We had the good fortune of connecting with Leslie Kell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leslie, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
Persistence and faith. Building an artistic practice can be compared to chiseling through a wall. You have no idea how dense or thick the wall is, or how long it might take to break through, yet you keep chipping away. Some days that blind faith is harder to muster than others. But perseverance coupled with intention can break down those walls. One of my favorite quotes that has become a mantra of mine is attributed to artist Chuck Close: “Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work.” Often, it’s in the work that you find the inspiration.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
I began my journey as a painter and illustrator until transitioning to a career as a graphic artist. I’ve been fortunate to operate my own design business for over 25 years in Austin. For me, the return to purely artistic pursuits was inevitable. While my aesthetic tendencies had not shifted significantly over the years, my medium of choice had changed quite a bit. I was able to tap into my unique skillset as a longtime graphics professional to create an original technique that synthesizes the artistry of both design and photography. In late 2008, I created my very first digital composition using my own photos and Adobe Creative Suite. I quickly realized that the possibilities were endless and a dozen years later I am still chasing that elusive vision of the perfect image. My imagery is contemporary, optimistic and very, very distinctive. I design surreal environments in which my original photos are assembled into the spaces and patterns of the forms. As the lights and darks of the photos interact with the shapes of the design, they create a whole new imaginary world. My artwork can be found at various galleries, fine art festivals and events. I offer custom prints of all of my images that can be printed on a wide range of substrates and options to fit any space. My website contains all the details.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Some of my favorite places are wrapped up in art and nature. If you were to visit Central Texas, I would grab my camera (of course) and head out to the hill country for a hike at Enchanted Rock and then a cool off at Hamilton Pool. We would certainly want to visit small towns like Wimberley and Fredericksburg along the way. Back in Austin, we could gallery hop and take in the rich and wonderful local art scene. Then wrap the day downtown watching the bats fly out for the evening. Oh, and don’t forget the Mexican food!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Fortunately, I found support in many places in the early days that helped carve my path forward. I am happy to say that my artistic life is creative and fulfilling. I owe much of my gratitude to my husband for his unyielding faith in me and my artwork for the last three decades. Also, to the artists and the small business owners I’ve met along the way, that through their love of art, have financed and nurtured galleries, venues and art centers to support the arts. Earlier this spring, when galleries were forced to close their doors, I curated special collections of popular designs to help boost sales, even if just a little bit. I offer these in partnership with Artisans Connect (Georgetown TX), Art for the People (Austin TX), and Art Connections (La Grange, TX). Find out more at lesliekell.com/gratitude. I would also like to take this moment to shout out to the Creative Arts Society for 20 years supporting local artists in Austin. Also, to Link and Pin Art Space, Georgetown Art Center, Round Rock Arts and Inspired Minds Art Center for promoting and providing opportunities for artists in Central Texas.
Artist Portrait by Greta Olivas.
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