Welcome to the Women in Fantasy Illustration interview series. I am interviewing a selection of women whose work have made an impact in the Fantasy Illustration Industry.
Today we’re going speaking to an artist whose work I greatly admire: Kimberly Kincaid. I first became familiar with her work when I saw some of the student work from SmARTSchool and I fell in love with it. The faces she paints are so captivating and always make me wonder what is on the mind of the subjects. Kimberly also has quite a remarkable story so let us jump right into it. Enjoy!
1. Please give a brief introduction of yourself, your career and your work.
Hello. My name is Kim and I am a Legoholic. Oh, wait…wrong intro. I’m Kim Kincaid, a freelance artist and lifelong student. My career spans 40 years with a tiny 30 year hiatus in the middle. To be honest, I’m still trying to figure out my career path.
I’m currently working on a children’s book but have had the most success with licensing my work via commercial packaging (Prismacolor), logos, and scholastic presentations. Strangely enough, it’s been my book fan art that has offered the most opportunities for me. I’ve been in Spectrum, Imagine FX, and three of my pieces were accepted in the SoI West last year. I was selected as one of Muddy Colors Rising Stars in 2013. I work primarily in traditional mediums but just last year I’ve learned to combine digital with a strong graphite sketch.
2. When did you start drawing? And when did realize you wanted to make a career of it?
I can’t remember my life without associating some type of art/creating with it. I was always drawing as a kid. Throughout my schooling, art and music were my passions. There are so many parallels between the two. I did have a defining experience a decade ago when I needed to choose where to focus my energy. Art won out and I’ve never looked back.
(…) I needed to choose where to focus my energy. Art won out and I’ve never looked back.
3. What difficulties have you faced in transitioning into becoming a professional illustrator?
I have to relate some personal facts in order to answer this. During that 30 year hiatus referred to above, I married at 20, dropped out of college to support my husband until he graduated and then went on to have 6 children, who are wonderful adults and creative in their own individual ways. So, when I was finally ready to pick up the pencil again, I faced many difficulties, the biggest one being… me. I was the age of most of the seasoned artists and yet at the experience level of a young student. I couldn’t see the wisdom of enrolling in college and waste precious time and limited funds on non-essential courses that would be required in order to get a degree.
I was the age of most of the seasoned artists and yet at the experience level of a young student.
I still had some sketching skills but everything else had atrophied from non-use and my technical and digital knowledge was nil. So, I began taking every class I could afford from studying at an atelier for 4 months to weekend workshops. I would email artists in the fantasy genre and without exception, they would all respond. Attending IMC definitely changed my life. Not only did I learn every year I attended, the contacts and friends I made there have given me the confidence and encouragement to give this career all I have.
4. What do you like the most about illustrating?
First and foremost, I love the story telling and creative and expressive energy required to tell that story. I love the people in the illustrative field. They are some of the most generous individuals I’ve come across. I like working from home and working at odd hours if I need to… and that my kitties can purr away curled up on my lap while I work.
I like working from home and working at odd hours if I need to… and that my kitties can purr away curled up on my lap while I work.
5. What do you like the least about it?
The isolation (see #10). Also, deadlines and holding your breath for client approval.
6. Who are some of your main inspirations in your artwork?
Both Lis and Wylie have listed many of my favorites. I would have to add Trina Schart Hyman and John Waterhouse. My list of contemporary artists whose work inspires is extensive. It probably includes every woman you’ve asked to participate in this blog series. If I had to list a handful they would be Karla Ortiz, Allen Williams, Audrey Benjaminsen, John Jude Pelencar and Jean-Baptiste Monge. And Rebecca Guay…and Kinuko Craft. Yeah, there’s so much to admire out there it’s hard to narrow down.
7. Please tell us about your process and your choice of medium.
To be honest, I’m still experimenting with different mediums but I seem to return to oil every time. If I have time constraints, I will do a fully rendered sketch and scan it in and then paint it digitally. If I have the luxury of time, I do the same, only print it out and paint on top.
Here is an example of a traditional piece. I usually try to do a minimum of 5 thumbnails. After one is selected, I do a fully developed sketch and scan it in. With this piece, I put a ghosted digital layer over it and then printed it out on a sheet of watercolor paper. Next, I wet it and tape it down on a board. Once dry, I started putting down colors with colored pencils…sort of a light color under painting. After that, I put down two layers of acrylic matte medium and then start with oil glazes, using walnut oil and OMS along with Daniel Smith’s oil medium to help with drying. It’s thin, allowing the pencil to give texture under the oil.
8. Like Elisabeth Alba from previous interview, you are also a SmART School student. Can you tell us about the experience and have you attended other art schools?
During my senior year of high school, I was awarded the weekend scholarship at the Art Center College of Design which involved driving to Pasadena every weekend for instruction. Other than the atelier that I attended and 2 years of college, IMC and SmART School have been my primary art instruction since returning to art.
My experience with SmART School has been immensely rewarding. (Sign up here. )
My experience with SmART School has been immensely rewarding. Rebecca has been my primary instructor and then I monitor other classes. She challenges and pushes you to do your best work. I love the interaction and feedback from other students as well. It’s been the best investment in my art career. I would recommend it to anyone who has wanted to take their work to the next level but needs the expertise to guide them there.
9. What is the best advice you have ever received regarding your artwork and career?
1. Every teacher at IMC: You never know unless you take the risk.
2. Rebecca Guay: You must find what is holy or sacred to you and then “pick your moment and make everything in service to that moment”.
3. The answers to indecision are always in the action of drawing.
The answers to indecision are always in the action of drawing.
10. How important is it you for to get away from your desk and seek inspiration outside? Many artists complain they end up living like hermits.
I remember Scott Fischer saying at IMC that he once sequestered himself in his studio 21 straight days, only going outside to get the mail. I laughed and thought how ridiculous. Yeah, well, NOW I understand.
When you are entrenched in a project, life outside your little studio bubble goes by without you and can actually be detrimental to one’s work.
When you are entrenched in a project, life outside your little studio bubble goes by without you and can actually be detrimental to one’s work. I listen to a lot of books while working and every time a disc is finished, I get up and move, take the stairs two at a time and get outside. Often, I return and have a fresh perspective on my painting or drawing, catching tangents or problems I was missing. We have a pond about 2 blocks away and sometimes I walk down and just watch the birds and breathe the air.
All my children live within 30 minutes of me and often a grandchild or two (we have 17) will pop in for a visit and that youthful energy is a tonic for my soul anytime.
Thank you for reading, I hope you enjoyed this interview with Kimberly. If there are any professional female fantasy artists you greatly admire and would like to see interview with, please leave a comment with their name and a link to their website. I have future interviews planned with Cynthia Sheppard, Zelda Devon and Marianne Plumridge.