Kimothy Joy, Illustrator + Political Philanthropist

It is one of those, "I know you from somewhere, but where exactly" thoughts. I've recognized Kimothy's work somewhere on social media, but couldn't easily identify from where. Then on my feed the @womensmarch #repost an illustration, and boom! I did more stalking, per usual. 

I then discovered that she was more than this woman who drew colorful, and powerful illustrations - she's an activist and has been involved with respectable organizations and social movements for a long time. Read Kimothy Joy's #GIRLBOSS Spotlight below: 

1. What did you wanted to be when you grow up? 

I was very much a performer and wanted to be a singer or actress when I was little. I think I wanted to be Bette Midler. I would sing the same song at the top of my lungs on repeat (Bette Midler's song "The Glory of Love" from the movie Beaches) and drove my three brothers crazy.  I was also always drawing and painting but never declared that I wanted to be an artist. When I was about 5-6, I would look at the VHS cover of the Little Mermaid and draw it out again and again. I loved her hair and the curves of feminine shape. 

2. You've been involved in social issues / justice with different organizations such as TED - how did you get involved initially and what made you continue to work towards these changes?

I was eager to unearth local ideas from all the incredible people I have met and continue to meet in Denver, especially people working in the RiNo district. I chose to start a TEDx program in that neighborhood because of the rapid transformation it had experienced in turning from an industrial landscape into an arts district. To me, it felt like it was this pocket of Denver bursting with creativity, free thinkers and ingenuity, and TEDx was a way to share those stories to a broader audience. TED is so cool because what starts as a small speaking event can turn into a launch pad for big opportunities in someone's life - just look at Brene Brown.  Also, in general, I like the thought of more community events where people get away from their screens and interact, deeply listen, and think. TED creates that academic, reflective space for the public, beyond the classroom. And one more thing. Speakers usually share ideas and perspectives that are unexpected or against the current grain of current thought. I think we need to promote, as a society, more listening and include more diverse, unheard voices. 

3. Can you tell us how your illustrations and #MakeAmericaKindAgain caught on? And which is one of your favorites and proudest work? 

Sure. I painted Make America Kind Again when I finally was able to get out of bed and snap out of the complete shock and disbelief that a man who promoted hate, misogyny, bigotry, all of it - could actually become president. I think I was in the same pajama pants for two full days. But when I finally sat down, those were the words that came to mind. It was the message that was missing from all political conversations I heard. From society. So I wanted a way to get it out there. I shared it online as my new motto to get me through the year and then started getting requests for shirts, stickers, etc. so I set up an online shop (actually, all credit goes to my partner Gregory for doing that in like a day) and decided 20% of profit would go to Southern Poverty Law Center. They combat discrimination and hate groups nationally through legal support.
For me, kindness does not denote weakness. It takes courage, its resilient and its action-oriented. So being able to raise funds for SPLC while also spreading this message felt congruent.

4. Do you ever feel as a full-time creative, you are running out of that "creative juice"?

Yes! All the time! It freaks me out actually because now that I'm starting to really make illustration a big part of my career (before it was mainly graphic design & photography), I worry I’ll just up and run out one day. But then I check myself (before I wreck myself?) and recognize that I'm an inherently creative person and all of this artwork stems from how I uniquely see the world. My style has sort of just happened because it's the way I doodle when I'm not overthinking it. The trick is to have patience and grace with yourself. Not everything will be great. Not even good. And on the days when you feel like giving up, you sit down and create regardless. Creativity is both inherent and a muscle that must be exercised and expanded no matter how you’re feeling each day.

5. Being a creative is at its peak right now. What is your best advice you can give to women who aspire to break into illustrations and graphics like you have? 

Do personal projects! Don’t wait for anyone else to give you permission to start or give you direction. Hold yourself accountable to creating or working on it daily - even for 15 min. And share your work! Get feedback. Let it evolve. And don't take it too personally. Surround yourself with things that help spark ideas and creativity - whether it be certain people, smells, books, podcasts. I have to create the right mood before I can begin. Also, don't be too hard on yourself. And truly develop your own look and approach. It’s easy to be influenced by all the other prominent creatives out there but try to let it not interfere with developing your own unique voice and style.

What is next for you, Kimothy?

I’m not sure! And I guess that’s the fun part. I would like to do more with my That's What She Said portraits, maybe eventually a book. I want these women's stories and faces to become ubiquitous in our society. Common knowledge. I'd also like to illustrate children's books as well as partner with different organizations and support women running for office by helping them with campaign art. Basically, I'm going to keep making art to support the ideas and causes I believe in. 



Interview and Introduction by Chary