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Get to know our artist!

Get to know our artist!

Get to know our artist!

 We're beyond excited to introduce you to Kenny Kiernan, the fabulously talented artist responsible for the illustrations in Story Time Chess: Level 2, Level 3, and more. Here's what Kenny had to say about life as a top-flight illustrator!
 
 
Did you always want to be an artist? What was your first job as an illustrator?
 
Yes I did, from a young age! I always drew, it always came naturally to me. My first real masterpiece was a giant Superman "S" logo on the wall above the couch in crayon at two years old. My first semi-real gig was in high school. I had an internship at a print shop and drew some small cartoon characters and items that were printed in some form somewhere. Nothing big, but it was a big deal to me!
 
 
When you were a kid, what was your favorite animated, comic book, or cartoon character/series? 
 
Oh man, so many. All cartoons, comics, and cartoon characters! I totally loved Marvel comics. Captain America was always my favorite superhero and The Avengers was my favorite comic, so I'm loving all the recent Marvel movies. Also all the Hanna-Barbera cartoons, and the relatively few anime and manga titles that had made it to the US. Speed Racer and Gigantor (both before my time), as well as G-Force: Battle of The Planets.
 
 
What does a typical day in the life of an illustrator look like? 
 
If you're lucky enough to be busy, it's "get to work!" I love my job and it's super cool, but it's very time-consuming. My stuff is detailed and very laborious to produce, so time management is always an issue. It requires discipline to produce work on a regular basis, so you've got to know when to get up and work, when to take your breaks, how much time to allow for this and that, because you're not at a "regular" job. When you're your own boss, you want to enjoy it but you have to take it seriously. But let me be clear, I'm not complaining! It's a good problem to have. This is my thing and I really enjoy what I do.
 
 
What kinds of art and other media inspire you the most?
 
The same kind of material - comics, cartoon art, and animation - and rock 'n' roll! I'm also a guitar and bass player. I've played in cover bands in the NYC area and goofed around jamming and creating original music with friends for many years. I have huge respect for all art forms and the creatives that develop these skills, because it takes love and energy and bravery to pursue and get good at them! So oil painting, classical music, foreign films; it's all good. But what I personally gravitate to most is more "lowbrow," if you will: comics, cartoons, and rock 'n' roll!
 
 
Other than Story Time Chess, what's a project you've done that you're really proud of?
 
I'm happy to say there have been a lot! I've done a lot of illustrations for toy and game packaging, so I'd say my Marvel and Transformers Battle Masters packaging illustrations, Rescue Heroes fire truck, and the Pencil Nose game box (all on display on my homepage) are a few that I'm really proud of.
 
 
Do you have any advice for kids who want to be illustrators or visual artists?
 
Yes! Don't get too caught up thinking about it or analyzing it - just DO IT! The more you do it, the better you get at it, just like anything else. So if you want to design cards for role-playing games, DON'T wait for someone to hire you to do it. Assign the project to yourself and do it. Then do another one. Then do another one! By that time, you'll know a thing or two and you'll have scratched that itch. Maybe then you'll want to design an environment for a mobile game, or a character for a cereal box. Assign the project to yourself and do it. Then do another one...
 
If you develop a body of good work with a consistent style, people will take you seriously and possibly hire you, or at least give you valuable feedback that helps you improve. Your portfolio can be all self-assigned projects. This is how I got into the biz, so I can tell you, it works! Be persistent, hone your skills, and develop a recognizable style (or two!). Show your work consistently on social media so a crowd starts to see your stuff regularly and notice you, and you'll start to make things happen!