Kirbi Fagan, a senior at Kendall College of Art & Design, Grand Rapids, Mich., understands how to promote herself. As a matter of fact, one of her weekend courses examined the Artists as Brand. This class looked at using social media, Facebook fan pages, personal pages and Twitter. To promote herself in the Creative Outlook Magazine cover contest, Kirbi took to that social media and all the avenues to share her art. “I have lots of friends who moved my art forward as well as my family. They are great advocates,” she says.
Her piece, Air Boss, received the most votes for the Creative Outlook Magazine cover contest. “When I was creating Air Boss, I wanted to create an image of a hero that had storytelling qualities. When paging through books on historical aviation I became very interested in the imagery. I wasn’t as interested in the planes as I was the people who flew them. I am very enthusiastic about nostalgia and Americana images. I used vintage photos to helps me come up with the planes. I always use people I know in my paintings, Air Boss himself, is a good friend of mine who I distorted to add character. The title Air Boss was inspired by a conversation with my grandpa, who has been building an airplane in his garage on Lake
Michigan since I could remember.”
Kirbi attended high school at the Plymouth Canton Educational Park in the Detroit area. She credits her art teacher Clevell Koon for inspiration and the drive to take “lots” of art classes in high school. “I took basic drawing, photography, painting, graphic design and an Advanced Placement course that became an independent study. I didn’t discover illustration until college.”
Kirbi says her paintings are meant to be something different to any viewer. “The great part of art is that it can spark a memory or another image. I want people to bring their own ideas to my work.” She praises a strong drawing background.
“Throughout high school, I ex-posed myself to other arts, like music and theater that still inspire me today. I looked at art in books, online and visited local galleries. I really struggled in math and science. Art class was the first place where I felt I fit in among other creative, like minded students. The greatest thing I gained from mak-ing art in high school was learning that I loved to make art. High school sparked my love for art and design and there, I was strongly encouraged to move forward in the arts.”
Kirbi serves as the president of the Kendall Painting Club where the group has participated in the Grand Rapids Art scene, Art.Downtown, and other art festivals. She was recently hired by Square Peg Events. During an earlier Kids ArtFest, she served as a live artist demonstrator. Now she is finding artists to work in conjunction with the Grand Rapids Children’s Museum for the event. Kirbi chose illustration for her major because she likes to tell stories through her work. “I like the idea of working for a client and having my work used as a commercial product. When I graduate I will be pursuing a job in creating art for book covers, greeting cards, magazine spot illustra-tions and illustrations for learning products. My absolute dream would be to illustrate book covers for a pub-lishing company.”