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Thalo Team: Can you give an "elevator pitch" of your work?

Kennady Marshall: I’m a children’s book and natural science illustrator from Connecticut with a passion for making scientific art both beautiful, and approachable, to people of all ages. I create work that is both “traditionally” scientific, as well as work that is whimsical and fun with a slice of factual basis. I’m currently working on illustrating my own book titled “The Adventures of Shelldon the Snail” which details the triumphs and pitfalls of an intrepid garden snail.


TT: What is your artwork about and what do you want people to take from it?

KM: Although most of of my work right now is science based, a lot of what I illustrate varies from project to project based on a client’s needs. Over the years I’ve painted everything from flying pigs to Dead Leaf mantises. In my more recent work, especially in the “Shelldon” project, my goal is for the viewer to see science and the world in a whole new, fun light. Our world is chocked full of amazingly beautiful, and interesting, creatures and I want my work to take subjects that people see as unapproachable and make them look new and interesting so they will want to learn more.

praying mantis

Dead Leaf Mantis

  Watercolor and Colored Pencil


TT: Which artists do you feel have influenced your art the most?

KM: Theres far too many artists that have influenced me over the years to fully list haha! I would definitely say that Tony Diterlizzi has been a big influence on my work. I have a copy of his “Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide to the Fantastical World Around You” that has been in my possession since I was eight years old. Some other influences include Jan Brett, Norman Rockwell, Brian Selznick, and John James Audubon. One of my biggest influences in recent years was my mentor Dennis Nolan. I hope to someday illustrate books as beautiful as he does.


TT: Do you have a preferred method of presentation for your artwork and why? (Examples: workshops, gallery shows, Instagram, etc.)

KM: I like to present my work in every space, and media, that I have at my disposal. I really believe in the power of the internet and how is has allowed the entire world to access art on demand. I’m very big into positing process and finished images of my work on instagram, and I also post high-res images of my work along with in-depth descriptions on my website as well. I do love when I am given the opportunity to show my work in a gallery or studio setting though. Theres something about people being up close and personal with the original pieces that facilitates a deeper connection.

when pigs fly

When Pigs Fly

Watercolor and Colored Pencil


TT: Out of all of your creations (or bodies of work) which one did/do you find the most cathartic in creating?

KM: I think out of all the work I’ve created over the years the most cathartic piece for me was my “When Pigs Fly” illustration. It was one of my most challenging paintings because I was working in acrylic ink for the first time and the perspective was really difficult to get just right. I poured my heart and soul into that piece and when it was finished that definitely showed. I would say that in the years since it has stayed my most popular piece among viewers which is very satisfying.


TT: When was your “Aha!” moment that led your work to where it is now?

KM: For me that moment came when I visited the La Specola Museum of Natural History in Florence, Italy while I was studying abroad. Something clicked inside me as I wandered the halls and looked at all the incredible specimens. I truly felt like a kid in a candy store. It was from that day on I wanted to create artwork that makes scientific subjects beautiful, fun, and approachable, to everyone. 



skull moth

Dead Head

Watercolor and Colored Pencil


TT: How has your work (or technique) changed over time?

KM: I’ve gone through a lot of phases with my art over the years. Many of the changes I’ve gone through are because I’ve gotten more confident and bold about trying new media, subject matter, and techniques. When I was younger I used to be a strictly black and white/ graphite artist. But over the years I’ve tried a multitude of new subjects and media including egg tempera, acrylic ink, colored pencil, and watercolor. As an artist I think its important to constantly try new things and push yourself. When I get complacent or too comfortable with where I’m at, then I know its time to change things up


TT: How do you promote yourself and your art?


KM: I promote my work on many platforms including facebook, instagram, and on my website. But I also make sure to send out custom direct mailers to prospective clients I’d like to work for. I cannot stress enough the power of getting a beautiful postcard or package in the mail.


horned woman with butterflies


Watercolor and Colored Pencil


TT: Do you have any tips or advice for fellow artists based off of your experiences thus far?

KM: Don’t give up, even when things are hard. The most amazing and satisfying pieces I’ve ever made have come from pushing through adversity. Also, don’t let yourself get complacent. Try new things, go new places, talk to other artists. Theres an entire world of new influences and ideas out there just waiting for you to absorb them.


TT: What are you working on right now and why?

KM: I’ve currently got two big projects on my plate. The first is finishing up the illustrations for my children’s book, which is a labor of love I’m excited to show to the world. The second is a new series of insect illustrations I plan on utilizing for some pattern designs and to boost my scientific portfolio.


pepsi wasp

Pepsis Wasp

Watercolor and Colored Pencil


TT:  What would you consider to be your "biggest achievement" with your work thus far?

KM: Earning my BFA in illustration is probably the biggest achievement that I see in my work thus far. I know that probably sounds silly, since tons of people have BFAs, but at one point in my life when I was starting to decide I wanted to be an artist, I had a teacher tell me I couldn’t cut it. I spent every day since then working to better myself in every way and prove that teacher wrong. It was hard for me not to cry when I got that diploma because, for me, that piece of paper was validation that I made it and I could be an artist no matter what anyone else said.


TT: What was your first work of art that you were proud of? Where is it now?

KM: The first piece of art that I really remember being proud of was a drawing I did of my dog Pudge back in high school. It’s currently hanging in my Dad’s home office so its pretty easy for me to go see it and reminisce!


TT: Do you take commissions? Why or why not?

KM: Of course I do! Commissions are a great way to expand your portfolio, try out new subject matter, and meet really amazing people. 


snail and butterfly

Sheldon and the Butterfly

Watercolor and Colored Pencil


TT: What do you do when you aren't working on artwork (hobbies, job, etc.)?

KM: When I’m not making art I find it really important to keep my hands busy so most of my “off time” activities are art or craft related in some way haha. I’ll make bracelets, craft crazy food combinations, or just research new art techniques.


TT: What is an area in your work that you feel weak in that you want to improve upon and how are you going to get there?

KM: I sometimes feel my use of perspective is a little weak. Mostly because perspective for me is like math for lots of other people, it just hasn’t clicked yet. I’ve been working really hard in recent months to boost my perspective skills so it will fee more natural to me. I've bought books and I do short review sessions everyday in my sketchbook. Its like anything else, practice makes perfect.


TT: How do you overcome art blocks?

KM: For me the best art block cure is a long, hot shower. My brain tends to venture to crazy places while I’m in there and I almost always come out with a new idea. When that doesn’t work, I browse the internet or just randomly doodle for a few hours. 

purple winged hopper

Purple Winged Hopper

Watercolor and Colored Pencil


TT: Where do you see your work taking you in the next 5-10 years?

KM: In my mind I like to imagine that in 5-10 years I’ll have a few children’s books under my belt, a graduate degree in illustration, possibly a teaching position at a college, or even working for one of the “dream” companies I’ve been hoping to work for since I was little. I tend to think of my future as a bunch of small actionable steps towards the goal of being a full-time artist.


TT: Is there something that you would like to share with us that we have not covered, that pertains to you and your work?

KM: A lot of people tend to ask me what my technique is. I use a combination of watercolor and colored pencil when creating my work. The watercolor is what I use for most of the piece, then I go in with colored pencil to tighten things up and add more details.


snail in forest

Sheldon in the Tomato Patch

Watercolor and Colored Pencil


TT: If you have links for your website, Facebook page, Instagram, Twitter, etc. that you would like to share, please include these addresses below.


Instagram @kennedyamarshall

Facebook page @kennedyamarshallart

My Website