We chatted with Kelly Brownlee, creator of Kelly Portfolio Illustrations, to see what inspires some of Seattle's most playful burlesque illustrations.
The Triple Door: What part of the burlesque culture inspires your designs?
Kelly Brownlee: Visually, of course, I am drawn to the amazing costumes and vibrancy these women and men bring to the stage. They put an incredible amount of thought and energy into creating a wonderful show. But to me, it's also about identifying with the performers and what they create on stage. A few years ago I saw The Shanghai Pearl perform. I had never seen burlesque before. I remember feeling, for the first time, that I could relate as a woman, as an artist, to burlesque. There was beauty, strength and humor that was front and center in these acts. These performers exuded confidence and grace, being immersed in everything womanhood can represent. Loving your body. I became an instant fan of burlesque and boylesque. There's a playfulness and power in burlesque that inspires me. And who doesn't love copious amounts of sparkle?
TD: Describe Seattle's Burlesque scene in 3 words:
KB: Sparkle, beauty, humor
TD: Describe your work in 3 words:
KB: sexy, candy, wit
TD: What are some of your other artistic outlets?
KB: Collecting vintage dresses and antique furniture. I also got into playing the banjo last year and fell head over heels in love with the instrument. Cooking, making delicious pastries with my daughter. Making greeting cards and jewelry from my illustrations.
TD: Being a music venue, this questions must be asked: Do you listen to music while you create? If so, who?
KB: Always. It depends on what I'm creating. If I am creating something with a vintage feeling. I listen to Julie London, Anita Goodman, Marilyn Monroe and old swing jazz. If I am in a time crunch and I need to work fast, I listen to 80's metal or The Pogues. I also really enjoy the banjo music. No one can be sad while playing or listening to the banjo, in my opinion. My musical tastes are all over the place and I don't rule anything out, but in general, I love to match my music to whatever I am creating.
TD: If you could have a drink with any visual artist, living or dead, who would it be?
KB: Maurice Sendak- hands down
TD: What would you ask him?
KB: What he likes to eat for breakfast. And what inspired him daily. Artists have an ability to channel inspiration from somewhere and I am always fascinated by where people draw their inspiration from.
TD: What is your favorite historical artistic movement?
KB: I love pop art. I would have loved to have lived in NYC in the 80's. I'm also a fan of the Rococo, Neoclassicism, and Romanticism movements for the decadence and color palate.
TD: What is your favorite color?
KB: Red. I love it so much I wear the same red lipstick and nail polish daily.
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