Kenny KIERNAN: Prolific Illustrator

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  • Tell us something about yourself, your background:

I’m a New York City native, currently residing in Scranton PA. I’ve been a self-employed professional illustrator working with top clients for twenty seven years, and I love it. I don’t have an art degree, I’m self-taught. My work is cartoony and primarily youth-oriented – please check out my website HERE for lots of samples of my work.

  • List your ventures with a brief explanation of each:

 Over the years I’ve done a lot of children’s publishing and kids’ promotions, advertising, editorial illustration, character design and product development. I have a large catalog of cartoon character vector illustrations that I license through all the major microstock agencies; I’ve also licensed my work for stickers and paper crafts products. My main thing these days is my work in the toy industry – toy and game illustration, character development and packaging design.

  • How/Why did you start as an entrepreneur? What set you off?

Probably for the same reason as most of your readers; because I’m a REBEL, lol! I could always draw but it never seemed realistic to me to pursue it as a career (OK I was a rebel, but I was always pragmatic, even as a kid). As noted above, since I didn’t go to art school, all of my friends and peers were getting “regular jobs” – you know; sensible, career-oriented staff jobs with a predictable career path. And I even tried doing that for a bit, but quickly found out that I didn’t like it – I had to do my own thing, something that was meaningful to me that I could identify with. It had to be doing artwork, something creative; but that also something that paid decently! In retrospect I can say that once I started freelancing, I liked the liberating feeling that I was free to make my own path. Ironically, that allowed me to totally love working corporate gigs! I had a few great regular freelance gigs as a studio artist at various NYC pharma ad agencies while doing my artwork on the side. I eventually got an agent, then was illustrating full time!

  • Tell us a bit more about each of your ventures:

I was fortunate to make some great connections early on with some really good people that helped me, but I also always worked very hard, as entrepreneurs always have to do. When you work for yourself, you have to work ten times harder than your friend with the cushy staff job; you have to pay for your own insurance; no one is looking out for you. This stuff is not for the faint of heart! But when it’s a success it’s all you, and that’s a great feeling. I should clarify that it wasn’t always as easy as it may sound from the previous description. Things were great until they weren’t, when suddenly my gigs started drying up and it got rough there for a while. But eventually I got it together and learned to promote my work much more actively, and things took off again from there. That’s where I’m at now and I’m not looking back!

–End of Interview–

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