Kim Sielbeck’s lush and vibrant illustrations have found their way onto album covers and been recognized by acclaimed arts outlets like American Illustration and the Society of Illustrators, among others. When she’s not working on pieces for 21st Amendment Brewery or Bustin Skateboards, the Brooklyn artist can be found playing surf rock at area boat clubs and sailing down the Hudson River. Before kicking off a long weekend at Governor’s Ball, we caught up with her to find out more about the inspirations behind her playful paintings.
You designed the cover art for Japanther’s latest Instant Money Magic, how did you get involved with that and what was the inspiration behind it?
I’ve been friends with Matt and Ian for a long time. They surround themselves with really creative and interesting people, and some of my best friends (and band) have come from that group. Ian asked me to design a pattern for a hat they were doing. His exact (and only) art direction was, “Some bright green, brown, yellow, and red. A taco that has green hot sauce. Playful Japanther letters.” From there I ran with it, and they liked it so much, it became the album cover.
Many of your pieces incorporate pop culture references, what about it inspires you?
I like making art that everyone can relate to and appreciate. This stems from being a textile designer, where everything has to be somewhat commercial if you want it to sell. Pop culture has that quality to it, too, so I think it just makes sense.
Your work can focus a lot on location, was that a product of traveling a lot when you were younger?
Definitely. Growing up in a Coast Guard household, I moved about 16 times in my first 18 years. We lived in some amazing places; Alaska, Hawaii, California. Everywhere we lived was by the ocean, and I’m a water sign. As a result, mountains, palm trees, and water play a huge part in my work nowadays.
Tell us about your band Puppies! What’s next?
Puppies are the top dogs! Matt from Japanther taught us our first song 3 years ago, and we’ve evolved into a bonafide surfy/girl-pop/60s-garage band! Practicing a few times a week and playing guitar and singing into a mic is a total complement to being an illustrator.We’re playing a Summer Solstice show at the North Brooklyn Boat Club in a couple of weeks, which is pretty much a dream gig for me. I get to incorporate boats and music! We’re also playing on the next episode of TV Party on July 1, which our friend Nick got us involved with. It’s going to be a great summer for Puppies!
What are some albums / movies / etc. you go back to when you need inspiration for your art?
It’s always changing. Talking Heads are pretty consistent in my playlist, so are the Pixies and the Shangri-Las. The nice thing about this day and age is that music is so available, so some days I’m into Motown and some days I’m into Trap music and some days I’m into Surf music. I love Wes Anderson movies, particularly Life Aquatic. And a trip to MoMA or the Met will most definitely inspire me.
Interview by Shea Garner, who is still recovering from seeing Julian Casablancas in a Hawaiian shirt at Governor’s Ball. Debate floral patterns with him @sheaDUCK.