#SurelySimple Inspiration: Kiley in Kentucky

Hello folks. You’ll be meeting different lettering / calligraphy artists as a part of the ‘meet the teachers’ series on @surelysimplechallenge. You can find their ‘main’ interviews on surelysimple.com, however the ones posted here are more personal and you might enjoy reading both, so please enjoy a glimpse into the creative folks featured here!

Meet Kiley! (check her previous feature on Opinion9 here as well!)

Please tell me a bit about yourself.

I am a twenty-something lettering artist going through a major life change! I just recently moved back to Kentucky from New York City, got married, moving out of state again, and launching my own business. Aside from all the craziness, I would describe myself as a happy medium between introvert and extrovert, a coffee and cat lover, and a woman who loves her friends and family more than anything.

How would you describe your lettering/ calligraphy style?
The words that immediately pop into my head are: loose yet feminine. I often think my letters look more like doodles than letters. There’s always a very round, ornate, girly shape to them. That’s the style that just comes most naturally to me!

What makes you motivated enough to keep on keeping on with your work?
Right now, it’s the simple fact that I truly enjoy lettering. The process is fun, therapeutic, and rewarding at the same time. I know in the future, the “fun” factor might die down, but I also love creating my own hours and being my own boss too much to ever stop lettering and go back to the 9-5 world.

Would you rather go the freelance way or do you prefer a more regulated and secure way of work?
At this point, I have forgotten what secure looks like! For the past few months, I’ve been living off of commissions and freelance work. Even though I started my Etsy Store, there’s no real guarantee I’ll ever receive another order—so, I rely on freelance to keep me going. I wouldn’t say I love this kind of lifestyle. For now, it’s fine because I planned for this, financially…but before I can start a family or begin saving for retirement, I want to have a “steady” gig.

What makes you the happiest when it comes to looking at your progress?
My favorite moments happen when I complete some sort of project, or use a technique, and I think “hey, I just did that with ease. That used to be so hard for me.” That’s when I know I’m headed in the right direction: forward.

Half glass full or half glass empty? What’s your attitude in life in general?
I’m really working on becoming a glass-half-full kind of girl! In the past, negativity or stress often got the best of me, but I’m actively focusing on the positive every day now. Honestly, quitting my 9-5 job and moving out of New York City has done wonders for my outlook on life. I have more energy, I feel healthier, I feel happier, and I’m so much more excited about life now that I’m away from the hustle and bustle.

Who do you look up to in your field? Or in life as a whole?
In my field, I really admire Kelly Klapstein (she taught the letter “A”). She’s a fellow Tombow Brand Ambassador, and even though I’ve never met her—she seems like one of the happiest, sweetest people! I don’t know much about her career as a lettering artist, but I really admire her work, her dedication, and the way she presents herself in such a positive, fun light. She’s awesome!

How many hours do you put in for your work everyday?
A solid 6 hours, at least. Some days it may be more or less, but I am generally working off and on from the time I wake up to the time I go to bed, 7 days a week. That is the beauty and curse of being self-employed. Work is always with you in some way!

What book/ podcast are you currently reading/listening to?
I don’t have just one! I love all things NPR, and I love listening to ‘Fresh Air’ or ‘This American Life’ while exercising–it’s about the only way I can motivate myself to work out.


How do you think you have evolved in your art- has it changed you?
I’ve really let go of my perfectionist tendencies. A year ago, I would NEVER take on a commission because I could never come up with a final piece I thought was deserving of the client. Now, even though I am a entirely different (better) artist, I look at my art and I see the imperfections as the “fingerprint” of each piece. On the other hand, I’ve become SO organized with the start of my business (and wedding planning), that I feel like I’m on a roll every day!

What’s next in your artistic journey?
When my husband and I get settled in our next location, I want to start traveling to festivals and selling my work! I recently participated in a small festival in Central Kentucky and I loved every bit of the experience. I would also like to work with local boutiques, gift shops, and other small businesses to get my work out there, and make my prints more accessible!
My social media links are:
BLOG: www.kileyinkentucky.com
INSTA: www.instagram.com/kileyinkentucky
ETSY: www.etsy.com/shop/kileyinkentucky

Read Kiley’s interview at surely simple here.

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