Karen Kurycki - Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Artist
Name: Karen Kurycki
Rad Gig: Graphic Designer, Illustrator, and Artist
JAX IS RAD because of local Artists like Karen Kurycki
Karen is an incredible designer who has worked with a variety of big name clients. She is such an inspiring person who has a passion to create and uses her whitty humor to create amazing illustrations. You can find her working in her RAD studio space at the Cork Art District.
Where are you from?
I grew up in a small town just west of Rochester, NY.
What's your background in the art field?
I've been a professional designer/illustrator for about 15 years.
How did you get into the art industry?
I've been drawing and making things since I was a little kid—I studied Visual Communication Design and illustration while minoring in advertising at Kent State University And now I do all of that. :)
People have been asking that since I moved here in 2004. I guess there are a lot of answers to that question—my mom was born in St. Augustine and my family used to travel to northeast Florida for vacations at least once a year while I was growing up. Then my pitching coach (fastpitch softball) moved back to Jacksonville when I was in high school; so we came down for lessons when we could. I did my college design internship in Jacksonville. When I graduated from Kent State I decided to head back to Jacksonville because I hate cold weather. I was familiar with the city and it was the size city I was interested in — not too big, not too small ... basically the mama bear of cities. (haha) I've stayed here for almost 14 years because I love the people here, and I have found it to be a city where if you want to do something cool, you can make it happen.
What is your biggest success?
I think my biggest success is being able to support myself as an independent designer/illustrator for almost 7 years. I've had a variety of successes so far in my career, but I actually don't like to think about past "wins" as much as looking forward to future ones. It's a perspective that forces me to keep growing and learning and finding cool new projects to be a part of. I think it's important to see your career and life as more of a journey than a destination – a journey in which you're continually working toward new things and enjoying the process rather than an uphill climb with a set end goal. If you work always toward one goal but don't enjoy the process any joy or sense of accomplishment along the way is fleeting.
What is your favorite thing to do in Jax?
I have a studio at CoRK Arts District, so you can find me there working A LOT — I know it sounds lame to say that my favorite thing to do it work, but my studio is my escape, and I actually love going to work there every day to create. I also enjoy attending friends' art/cultural events and openings, and spending time with friends and family over dinner/drinks. Oh, and I've had Jaguars season tickets for the past 11 years, so you can always find me tailgating and in the stands on home game Sundays. :) – I usually make signs (or tee-shirts) customized for that week's game that end up on the jumbotron. :)
How are you making a mark in the city?
I've been involved in various organizations, professional groups and initiatives since I moved to Jacksonville in 2004. The one I've been most active with is AIGA, the professional association for design, and we've done a ton of projects and events within the city to give back, as well as events that inspire and engage the graphic design community. I've also worked with a handful of nonprofit organizations to do event branding and collateral design, posters, etc. I helped start the Jax Young Voters Coalition that encouraged 18-40 year olds to get involved in politics for the 2015 mayoral/city council election. In 2016, I did a 100-day project called 100 Days for LGBcuTIes with my studio mate Summer Wood that highlighted 100 people in Jacksonville who were working toward passing a fully inclusive City Human Rights Ordinance—and it finally ended up passing in February 2017! In addition, I really enjoy mentoring younger designers who are still in school or just starting out in the industry — I think it's really important to give back to your industry and to remember where you were when you were starting out.
Well, I feel like 2017 was a rough year for everyone, I quit Facebook and became a hermit in my studio pretty much working on both client and personal projects; so I think in 2018 I may rejoin the living and be more proactive in giving back to my community in a bigger way. I think sometimes you just need a break from everything to focus on creating your own thing for a bit. I did a lot of personal projects last year. My 100 Days of Dips Project and daily Instagram watercolor patterns, but I think I feel more alive when I'm doing a combination of personal and community projects.
Where can people find you?
I'm at CoRK pretty much every day, but online they can find me at CMYKaren.com and on twitter and Instagram as @cmykaren.
Why is Jax Rad?
Jax is rad because the sky is pretty much the limit when it comes to pursuing your ideas or wanting to do something here. If you have an idea or something you're passionate about you can make it happen with support from the community. Jax is also such a vast city, with tons of parks, nature, beaches, waterways—something for everyone really.