Francesca Killian is a NYC-based illustrator, fine artist, and textile designer. She is inspired by classic and foreign films, antique photographs and small conversations at cafés. When she is not creating, she can be found petting her cats and drinking a glass of wine or cognac, a habit taught and nurtured by her artist grandmother.
How has the pandemic affected you professionally?
I have been looking for a full-time job since January, and in March, I had finally got a call back from a textile studio….and then quarantine happened.
It's hard to stay focused. I find myself drawing the SAME figure or the SAME face over and over again. I love drawing, painting and embroidering peaceful ladies doing peaceful things, but I swear to GOD I have drawn the SAME lady looking to the side and looking pensive with the SAME coffee cup and the SAME verbiage in French or Spanish 30 times this quarantine, and not realizing until I go to do the final, & then I feel totally deflated. I need to draw a cat or a portrait of someone to get me out of this funk—it’s driving me crazy! My sketchbooks aren’t filling up as usual, and sometimes I just don’t know what to do with myself. But when I’m in doubt, I just pet one of my kitties, and my blood that is boiling goes back down to peaceful ocean waves.
How have you been affected personally?
The pandemic has affected me emotionally and creatively. I work freelance, so when I'm feeling stir crazy, I'll take a trip to a café and work from there for a change of scenery. Or if I felt I needed some inspiration, I would head to a gallery or museum. I would maybe even take a long walk down a street I’d never been on and take pictures of flowers in windows. Being in quarantine, I really see how I took that ease for granted; I can't go work in another atmosphere, and I can’t easily get that change of scenery. So, stir craziness is definitely running wild.
That being said, it's such a small sacrifice compared to the people who are working really hard every day to keep everyone safe, and to keep some semblance of normalcy in a scary world. I'm so thankful that FaceTime exists, and that I'm able to keep in touch with family and friends, and laugh while having a glass of wine. My mother, sister, and I all FaceTime every night, and my dad (who’s in Papua New Guinea right now) sometimes joins in on the call, and we all laugh and feel the craziness. I’m just so thankful that we’re all safe and healthy. I have a lot of family that lives in Costa Rica, Italy, and Spain, and no matter where we are in the world, we’re all going through the same thing, so it’s nice to be able to keep in touch with them over WhatsApp.
I have two kittens, too, so they keep me sane in my little studio apartment. I’m so glad YouTube exists, because I can still watch true crime documentaries and art restoration videos, and some classic and foreign films on some apps I have on my tv. I’m obsessed with these South Korean drink-making videos on Instagram; I save them for color inspiration and calming music/atmosphere…I’m all over the place, honestly.
Now that I think of it, I have always been a big homebody, and something tells me that after quarantine that’s not going to change much.
“I hope the quarantine brings people together in a way that will empower artists to see the impact that their art has on their own person, and that they should be creating art, first and foremost, to make themselves happy."
How do you think it will impact the future of your industry?
I think it will impact the creative industries positively—all that time indoors and no room to stretch our brains…when we’re finally allowed out of our caves, everyone’s ideas will start exploding and mixing together! Maybe there will be a new wave of art forms, or a resurgence of artist cafés, like the Parisian ones at the turn of the century. I think it will create a form of togetherness and understanding - I think that’s what is needed in the art community. So many people are hung up on being the best, creating the best, and being at the top.
Social media has created a bit of a rift in the artist community that promotes unhealthy habits, like being so obsessed with a follower count or creating art based on what people want to see rather than creating art for art’s sake. I hope the quarantine brings people together in a way that will empower artists to see the impact that their art has on their own person, and that they should be creating art, first and foremost, to make themselves happy. If happy artists come together and admire each other, rather than admonish or compete against one another, and try to create an impact together, it could truly be a beautiful thing.
“I think it will create a form of togetherness and understanding. I think that’s what is needed in the art community."
How are you adapting to the changes?
I’ve been wanting to open up my own online shop for a while, so I’m working on making products to fill that. It will be a mix of paintings, embroideries, drawings, and embroidered garments. The only thing to do now is to go full-speed-ahead on my online studio. I’m working full-time on that endeavor for now.
If you had to identify a silver lining out of this, what would it be?
I think the silver lining is that people are beginning to find out who they are from being alone. I think it is very important to be happy and comfortable with your own company, and I think that’s what is needed in society right now. There’s so much sharing of personal information, and sadly, some people feel they need to be accepted by their peers, even when their peers are not the best people or the most positive company. Being in your own company, and being calm in your thoughts is essential to have peace (even when things aren’t so peaceful) and to have a clear head to solve problems in life. I can only hope that people will feel a little more comfortable with themselves when they leave isolation.
“There’s so much sharing of personal information, and sadly, some people feel they need to be accepted by their peers, even when their peers are not the best people or the most positive company."