Motivational art can quickly grow tiresome; there are only so many ‘you can do it!’s and ‘keep your head up’s that can be believed before it wears out. To curb this apathy, London-based artist and print designer Kelly Anna is changing the game of inspo by creating empowering art with a colorful identity.
From London Fashion Week to illustrated bikini waxes
Kelly started her journey as an artist very young, growing up with a father who was an artist himself, but she got her major break when she was commissioned by London Fashion Week as an illustrator, which jump-started her interest in print design.
Since, she’s worked with a range of brands and celebrities, focusing on her own brand and unique journey to develop designs she loves while completing meaningful collaborations.
Among the collaborations, Kelly has worked with Refinery29 on a humorous and empowering series of illustrations of bikini waxes, revealing her clear feminist flair. She has also designed prints for Stella McCartney, Topshop and Nike.
When finding out the news that Beyoncé was wearing one of her tops, Kelly admits it was a pretty great feeling. “I love seeing any of my prints go from sketchbook onto product,” she says. “Then if someone reps it, that’s just a bonus!”
It was during her time at Illustrated People as Head of Print that she saw her brand expand, and the likes of Queen B as well as Cara Delevingne, Foals and London Grammar were all wearing KA.
Kelly Anna’s work transpires in the marriage between bold and free cubism, and tongue and cheek feminism. Enamored with Mexican culture across its colors as well as being influenced by music and London carnivals, she recognizes influences from painters such as Picasso, Hockney, and Matisse in her work.
Kelly explained her inspiration to It’s Nice That, stating, “Matisse, I can relate to because he too loved to explore different mediums, from his paper collage to self-portrait paintings.”
Borne from her father’s flirtations with cubism, Kelly appreciates the freedom of the movement to lead her work to something completely new each time, explaining:
“I will usually do a piece of work, spend hours on it, screw it up and just do something that’s free and flowing, then I feel relaxed.
I need this process sometimes though to remember not to be too rigid and just have fun.”
Her work as a print designer also allows a fluidity across the medium, which she enjoys. Working on interior design, fashion, footwear as well as print illustration allows her creativity to reach greater heights and connect with even more people.
Playing on a lighthearted approach to the dark side
Kelly Anna’s work stands out thanks to its empowering message — implicit in style, and explicit in the recognizably pro-fem scrawlings. Slogans like ‘Never Tame Your Game’ for Nike and ‘Survival of the Slickest’ give Kelly’s work the outspoken nature which is so naturally appealing.
“We live in a world now where everyone is so connected and there are so many mixed messages being flown about online,” Kelly tells Konbini.
“I always worry about young girls/boys reading these views and being scared to have their own genuine opinions out of fear of social backfire.”
Fear of others being too frightened by brash opinions is why Kelly opts for humor in her tone; she can be blunt, direct and hold strength while also keeping lightheartedness in the mix.
By doing this, she creates prints that inspire ambition and power, often featuring incredible females working out.
In terms of her relationship with social media and its influence, Kelly opts to “to either look at the positive messages, or play on a more lighthearted approach to the darker side.”
Her work begins with an image, the colors and shapes obeying a free-flowing design, and then the message follows. “I’ll literally write words as I sketch, Cut them out, collage them. This tends to often make something quite genuine,” she says.
“I decided it was my duty to help others chill the fuck out.”
From inspirational workout images, to cheeky illustrations, Kelly Anna’s fire isn’t burning out any time soon. Her most recent and favorite project is a unique coloring book she created following a workshop for International Women’s Day with Women Who.
“I absolutely love coloring in, it really relaxes me. So I decided it was my duty to help others chill the fuck out,” Kelly says.
Her relationship with Women Who truly hones in on her ideology and support for strong, creative women. The platform welcomes a community of women “rewriting traditional career paths and bringing original ideas to life.”
Passionate about design, freedom and women’s power and unique identity, Kelly leaves Konbini with a spurring message:
“I actually don’t know why most people refer to God as a man, that’s all I’ll say on that.”
Engaging, empowering and inspiring, watch this space as Kelly Anna leads a colorful, creative revolution for modern women in design.
Originally published on Konbini