About Kelly Nichols
Hey there :) My name is Kelly Nichols and I'm a graphic designer and illustrator that lives in Philadelphia. Most people know me by my studio name: Kidnichols, which is where I post all of my illustrations and merch!Although drawing was a huge passion of mine growing up, I actually started out writing short stories. It wasn't until high school, when my guidance counselor put me in an Intro to Digital class, that I realized digital design really clicked for me. I started to play with Photoshop in my free time and the rest is history!
Eventually I ended up going to Winona State University for Design where I did a deep dive into the main Adobe programs (Illustrator, Photoshop, and Indesign). Photoshop was the program I gravitated to the most, while I cultivated an extreme hatred for Adobe Illustrator. It’s funny to look back now, because Adobe Illustrator is my favorite program and is something I use every single day.After graduating from college, I spent about 5 years at different design agencies where I would focus on logo development and print/brand design. Although this was something I was good at, I was starting to spend a lot of my free time posting experimental illustrations on Instagram. Over time, I started to realize that I wanted to focus solely on Illustration, which meant that I would have to update my portfolio in order to change my career trajectory. This lead to me rethinking my entire brand, updating my services, and leveraging a lot of my personal illustrations. I also opened up my Etsy shop around this time as well.
In 2021, I was finally getting enough business through my social media accounts to go full-time freelancing. Once this happened, I was able to break through my COVID burnout, hit the ground running, and spend some much needed time focusing on my personal illustrations. I feel so lucky every day that I was able to make the leap into freelancing, because up to this point I was working 16 hour days (8 hours agency work + 8 hours personal work).
I’m almost at the 2-year mark of being a full-time freelancer and I already feel like a completely new person. I’m still developing my personal style, Etsy store, and list of clients, but I am so happy to be able to have the creative freedom I was always looking for.
Tips to fellow Artists:
I think it’s really important to make time for personal projects that make you excited when you’re starting out. The main reason I have as many illustrations, experiences, and clients as I do is because I started posting to Instagram for fun. The social media aspect doesn’t matter as much as creating a pattern for yourself to always be planning, learning, and drawing. I have no idea where I would be if I hadn’t started drawing two times a week, every week, back in 2016. This ties into my belief that tenacity can out-do skill almost every single time. I wasn’t especially gifted when it came to illustration, but I’m able to grow and meet so many people just because I show up every day. Showing up is the most important part!