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Kelsey Liggett is a freelance illustrator based out of North Texas. In her spare time she makes comics. In her spare spare time, she plans new ways to become the very best, like no one ever was. Find more of her work online or email her at kelseypliggett at yahoo dot com.

Kelsey provided art for last month's "Like Smoke, Like Light" by Yukimi Ogawa.

This interview was conducted by email in June 2018.


Tory Hoke: As an illustrator, how did you get where you are today?

Kelsey Liggett: Accidentally! I went to school for architecture, but a few years of working for a firm proved it wasn’t the field for me. Luckily, I’d joined an online art community on a whim during a particularly slow college semester. The friendships and rivalries I made in that group encouraged me to take my art hobby more seriously and ultimately led to me pursuing a career in illustration.
I’ve tried to be more careful about following whims since. You never know what they’ll lead.
© 2017 Kelsey Liggett, "Catalyst"

© 2017 Kelsey Liggett, "Catalyst"

Tory Hoke: Tell me about your adventure comic, "The Continuing Adventures of Kindling East." What inspired this undertaking? How does writing affect your growth as an artist? And how does illustration affect your growth as a writer?
Kelsey Liggett: Speaking of whims—I had wanted to make a comic so that I could get better at making comics, but all my brilliant, encyclopedic-length stories were far too precious to practice on. Enter “The Continuing Adventures of Kindling East.” It was perfect: short, episodic stories for learning to write concise narratives, the opportunity to draw all sorts of environments, and flexibility in experimenting with different working styles. The writing challenges have helped me become more focused and intentional about what I’m trying to communicate, and the sheer possibility of drawing pushes my writing to keep up. It’s one thing to draw something cool—it’s another to make someone care about it.
I’m taking it slightly more seriously these days, but at its heart "Kindling East" is about letting yourself take a chance and seeing what works.
© 2017 Kelsey Liggett, "The Continuing Adventures of Kindling East"

© 2017 Kelsey Liggett, "The Continuing Adventures of Kindling East"

Tory Hoke: Your piece "Absence" uses an unusual visual approach to convey emotion. How did you plan this piece? What is the narrative moment behind this work?
Kelsey Liggett: I’m fascinated by the reflective nature of environments—how a space shapes and, in turn, is shaped the person who lives in it. This piece, done as part of the Month of Love challenge (where participants create a new prompt-based piece each week for the month of February—check it out, it’s great), was a chance to explore that person/space relationship. Specifically, what a space says once the person who shaped it is gone.
My granny passed away a few years ago, and I can remember clearly how empty her house felt afterwards. There’s a certain violence in seeing the echoes of a person all around you, in the way you’re confronted with that new, permanent vacancy. “Absence” grew out of that state of mind.
Fun fact: the cat-blob spirits were not part of the original sketch. I’d nearly completed the pencil drawing before deciding the piece was a bit too bleak. To me, the little spirits are like memories or reminders. A person might be gone, but what you felt, the time you spent with them? That’s yours. And it stays with you.
© 2018 Kelsey Liggett, "Absence"

© 2018 Kelsey Liggett, "Absence"

Tory Hoke: What effect do you hope to have on your viewer?
Kelsey Liggett: What I love about art—especially narrative-based art—is its ability to draw you into a moment. To create this sense of tangibility, of place, of time that the viewer can connect with. It’s something I greatly admire in the works of others, and I’d love to be able to convey even a fraction of that feeling with my own work.
Tory Hoke: What is the art community like where you are?
Kelsey Liggett: I’m not super involved with my local art community—although that is one of my resolutions for this year! My main community is online. We’re always competing and challenging one another, sharing our successes and failures, and basically enabling whatever dumb ideas the other comes up with. It’s a lot of fun!
Tory Hoke: What other artists inspire or interest you?
Kelsey Liggett: Growing up I was enamored with the Dinotopia books by James Gurney, and I would spend ages looking at Ted Nasmith’s landscapes in the illustrated Silmarillion. As for more recent influences, I’ve been on a bit of a comic kick lately. Kaoru Mori has some of the most beautiful, detailed linework I’ve ever seen, and the composition, pacing, and character acting in Yuko Ota’s most recent comic, Barbarous, continues to blow my mind with each update.
Tory Hoke: What would you like to see more of in contemporary F/SF art?
Kelsey Liggett: I’d love to see the definition of what F/SF can be continue to expand. They’re genres of limitless possibility, and setting up narrow definitions of what does and doesn’t count only creates stagnation. More art! From more voices!
Tory Hoke: What's your dream project?
Kelsey Liggett: It changes with the day of the week. Right now it’s a road trip comic following a magician, a delinquent, and a runaway as they travel down the last safe highway in a land radically altered by divine radiation. Lots of strange coincidences, holy beasts, and abandoned roadside attractions. But ask me tomorrow and it’ll be something new!
Tory Hoke: What's next for you?
Kelsey Liggett: In the short term, I’m going to finish reading The Odyssey (no spoilers please). Long term, I want to keep learning and improving. I want to push myself, a little bit more each day, and find out what I’m capable of!


tory_hoke_50kbTory writes, draws, and codes in Los Angeles. Her fiction has appeared in Strange Horizons, Drabblecast, and PseudoPod, and her art has appeared in Strange Horizons, Apex, and Spellbound. She is art director for Strange Horizons and editor-in-chief of sub-Q, a magazine for interactive fiction. Follow her work at toryhoke.com.
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