GUEST ARTIST: “The Power of Creating Art” by Shelly Kim

Geometric Design - Shelly Kim Watercolor Lettering - Letters by Shell - Doodlewash

Hi friends, my name is Shelly Kim and I specialize in watercolors, illustrations & hand lettering. I’m currently based in Los Angeles, CA and truly enjoying the process of creating daily. Often times, you can find me at my local coffee shop in DTLA or Pasadena typing away on my laptop, doodling on my iPad or painting (yes, painting in public)!

Everywhere I go, you can find a watercolor palette, pens, paper, Princeton Round Aqua Elite (size 6 & 8), Princeton Round Heritage Series (size 4, 6 & 8), and Princeton Velvetouch Brushes in my crafting tote bag! As you can tell, I love Princeton brushes, but the reason I love them is the way they are made. I love the feel and grip of every brush, the amount of water each brush can hold and how flexible the brush tips are!

One of the many and obvious reasons why I love watercolors is how vibrant, colorful, and unpredictable each artwork piece is. With watercolors, it’s nearly impossible (for me) to replicate the exact same piece because the colors might dry differently and create a different effect–it’s totally unpredictable, which I think is the best part!

Carrots Pattern - Shelly Kim Watercolor Lettering - Letters by Shell - Doodlewash

I first stumbled upon lettering and watercolors when I was super stressed out working full-time at my insurance job back in 2015. I kept searching for a fresh, creative, new outlet and something I can fully immerse myself in. I am so thankful I found art as my escape because I learned so much about myself in such a short period of time.

I developed patience with myself because creating takes time and I started to enjoy the little things in life again. During this time, art was not just my escape, but it was like a wake-up call.

Dream Love - Shelly Kim Watercolor Lettering - Letters by Shell - Doodlewash

Prior to discovering art, my purpose in life was only to work, even if I was extremely unhappy going to work. I just felt lost and was in a dark place in my life, but exploring and creating art gave me a new purpose in life. Almost like I had a different mission in life, finally understanding what makes me the happiest.

Shelly Kim Watercolor Lettering - Letters by Shell - Doodlewash

Fast forward to today, I am doing what I love full-time. I am not only creating art full-time, but I have taught lettering and watercolor workshops worldwide such as Australia, Japan, Singapore, and New York to name a few. I have also spoken about my journey at Today at Apple in New York and at the Alt Summit conference in Palm Springs.

I also love that I have the opportunity to work with Princeton Artist Brush Co. as one of their ambassadors — thank you Princeton for building such an amazing, supportive community for artists to come together, collaborate and share our knowledge on a daily basis.

Because of my past, and the reason I stumbled upon watercolors and lettering, my mission within my business is to make sure that with everything I create, I am always spreading positivity, love, and happiness. I only hope my story and work can continue to inspire others and remind others that anything is possible with the right perspective and vision.

Something I would love to share is that when working on projects, I give myself some grace and some time to reflect and understand the vision for the artwork piece. During my reflection, I tend to visit my local coffee shops and cute cafes for more inspiration and time to think about the upcoming project. Once I feel like I’m ready–I will start brainstorming in my mind about the overall piece (layout, details, and color palette).

Shelly Kim Watercolor Lettering - Letters by Shell - Doodlewash

After my brainstorming, I will finally start my sketching process and let my mind explore when using watercolors and adding final touches. I’ll be honest, there are numerous times I will feel really good about the brainstorming process, but then paint maybe 5-10 pieces of the exact same thing.

During these times, this is when I give myself some grace, take a deep breath, and allow myself to redirect my energy and create something fun before revisiting the project again. This is also when I will change my scenery and take time to leave my studio and paint outside or at a local coffee shop.

Heart Pattern - Shelly Kim Watercolor Lettering - Letters by Shell - Doodlewash

The question I get often is how to avoid getting burnt out. I’m a strong believer in exploring and discovering as many mediums as you can because it not only strengthens your mind, energy and the creative process, but keeps you hungry to learn more techniques. Each month, I challenge myself to go out of my comfort zone and create something different whether it’s using different tools or mediums.

For me, exploring new things keeps me inspired and challenges me in so many amazing ways as an artist. This year, I have explored embroidery, pottery and pattern-making as a passion project! I’m also excited to announce that I have a book coming out this August all about digital hand lettering and brush lettering! I also have a project in my new book sharing all about painting on acrylics and of course, I’m using one of my favorite Princeton brushes, the Velvetouch Wash Brush!

Nature - Shelly Kim Watercolor Lettering - Letters by Shell - Doodlewash

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about me as an artist and my journey! I hope it inspires you to pursue your passion and do things that make you happy! Remember to create daily and throw yourself out there because you never know the opportunities that will come your way! I believe in you!

Shelly Kim
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Recommended7 recommendationsPublished in Featured Artists
24 Comments
  1. Jodi 5 months ago

    beautiful and inspiring!

  2. Linda M. Gigliotti 5 months ago

    Thank you, Shelley,

    I’ve been stuck for a long long time. I am not being productive. I viewed your simple (meaning one subject, read on) but beautiful paintings. It dawned on me that I am trying to do entire pictures instead of zeroing in on one topic like we do in writing. Like photography too, don’t snap the lake, the birds, the tree, and the mountain. Pick out one loon and take its picture. Strange how we can apply a rule to one endeavor (writing) and not the rest!

    Thank you from western Canada!

    • Shelly Kim 5 months ago

      Aww Linda! Thank you so much for sharing this with me and everyone. I am so happy that my artwork pieces were able to inspire you. Keep creating and I cannot wait to see your creations. Sending love to you <3

  3. Mary Roff 5 months ago

    Beautiful! Thank you for sharing your story!!

  4. Sandra Strait 5 months ago

    Your work is beautiful Shelly! I think you’re totally correct about exploring and moving outside of your comfort zone on a regular basis. I think Princeton brushes are truly the best bang for the buck. They’re affordable and fantastic to use. Thank you for sharing your artistic journey with us.

    • Shelly Kim 5 months ago

      Aww Sandra! I 100% agree with you and thank you so much for the kind words and showing me some love! You’re the best 🙂

  5. Karen Fortier 5 months ago

    Beautiful, thanks for sharing your story!

    • Shelly Kim 5 months ago

      Thank you Karen for the kind words 🙂 You Rock!!

  6. Lisa Ann Ulibarri 5 months ago

    Greetings Shelly, thanks so much for sharing your story and gorgeous artwork. It all is so inspiring 🙂

    • Shelly Kim 5 months ago

      Aww Lisa! I appreciate you!! Thank you for taking the time to read my story!! 🙂

  7. sqwiffy 5 months ago

    I too felt “spent”. I took early retirement, then discovered art. Now I’m calm and happy. Love your creativity.

    • Shelly Kim 5 months ago

      That’s so amazing! Art is so beautiful and powerful! Sending you love <3

  8. Sharon Nolfi 5 months ago

    Wonderful work with shapes and colors!

  9. Jean marmo 5 months ago

    Delightful works. A great read. Thank you for the inspiration.

    • Shelly Kim 5 months ago

      Thank you Jean for the kind words and for taking the time to read my story! You Rock :)!!

  10. Laura Kate 5 months ago

    Fresh and energetic work. I am glad to hear to describe exploring as many media as possible. This is my practice as well. Thank you for posting your videos.

    • Shelly Kim 5 months ago

      Aww Laura! Thank you for the kind words 🙂

  11. Krati Saxena 5 months ago

    Great work.. really inspired me..

  12. Janneke Booister 5 months ago

    Your work is really nice and positive! I enjoyed reading the story and looking at your art 🙂

    • Shelly Kim 5 months ago

      Thank you Janneke for the kind words and for taking the time to read my story! I appreciate it 🙂 <3

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