Illustrator & Designer
Interview By Leslie Carvitto
In between design classes, skiing and mountain bike riding, artist Brooklyn Bell uses her talent as an illustrator to communicate the complexities of the land she loves to plays on.
Her illustrations are a combination of hand drawings and Photoshop work, and are a direct reflection of her passion for a life lived outdoors.
Find out more, in Brooklyn’s words:
Tell us about your creative background and how you chose to study graphic design at Western Washington University?
I’ve had a passion for design since I was a teenager in high school. I found illustration and fine art through design and use of the adobe products. I continue to use these same programs to create my art. I chose to study graphic design at Western Washington University because I heard the program was challenging and staying in Bellingham meant that I got to be close to the mountain and the trails.
What is your favorite way to spend time outdoors? And how does that influence your art?
I love spending my time doing galbraith laps with my friends riding bikes. I also love getting pow laps with my friends at Mt.Baker. Luckily, in the northwest, both these activities can happen in the same week. My art is inspired by my friends, the inside jokes between us, the stories and photos they share with me. I create art to create culture and connect with my community.
Your illustrations contain deep tones and lovely hues, how do you choose your color palettes?
I choose my colors as a graphic designer or interior designer would. I am constantly googling and saving interesting color palettes on Pinterest. Sometimes I like to create things that are analogous and other times I try to work with contrasting colors or colors that are unlikely to be put together. A lot of times I create something with a specific color or challenge myself to use a more complex color system. Color is a tool that can connect with people on an emotional level. Usually, I want my art to make me feel warm and fuzzy.
Color is a tool that can connect with people on an emotional level. Usually, I want my art to make me feel warm and fuzzy.
Your website says inspiration comes from your role models and what you see within mountain culture. Who are your biggest inspirations and what’s your view on mountain culture?
Right now I am inspired by a lot of the creative work that is happening outside of mountain culture. As a design student, pop-culture and music have a big influence on me. I am inspired by the complexity of creation and messages that come from artists like Kendrick Lamar, Jamilla Woods, and Rihanna. What these artists do with music inspires me to find more depth within projects (something I am still trying to figure out).
Within mountain culture, I am inspired by some of the archetypes. Dustin Ackley is a great example of this. Dustin was created to look like the typical “shady-skier-asshole”. I created him with the idea that he would be bro-intimidating on the outside but really kind hearted once you got to know him. What’s funny about this character is a lot of skiers either identify with him or they’ve seen this person before. The reaction from the community about this character, just shows that there is still so much room for the culture to expand to include different archetypes and different styles and people.
The reaction from the community about this character, just shows that there is still so much room for the culture to expand to include different archetypes and different styles and people.
You’ve designed everything from logos and wedding invitations, to t-shirt designs and event posters. What’s your favorite project you’ve worked on and why?
My favorite projects always involve me connecting with my community or projects that force me to have a new outlook.
For example, the reason I created Lady of Loam was that I wanted to make bike jerseys that would be affordable and also something that I and other women in the community would love to wear. It’s really rewarding to see women in the community so stoked to ride in the jerseys I have created. Really, this project was created for me and getting to connect with people through the process is icing on the cake.
Can you speak about your experience at last years SHIFT (Shaping How we Invest For Tomorrow) conference and your role as an emerging leader? What was your biggest takeaway from the event?
I went out to SHIFT last fall as an emerging leader not knowing what to expect. SHIFT’s main focus is on conservation but I spent a lot of my time participating in panels and talks that were centered around diversity. My biggest take away from SHIFT was being around other influential people of color in the outdoor industry. It also gave me the tools to facilitate tough conversations and to be an advocate for myself and others.
My biggest take away from SHIFT was being around other influential people of color in the outdoor industry. It also gave me the tools to facilitate tough conversations and to be an advocate for myself and others.
What’s next for you and your art?
I really don’t know what is next for my art. I know that I want to continue creating things outside of my illustrations because it brings a lot of inspiration into my illustrations.
I think it is important to highlight the different levels of outdoor recreation and know that you don’t have to do extreme sports or venture out into the wilderness to reap the benefits of the outdoors. I want to use my art to open that discussion. I am excited to draw from these new experiences and conversations and dive deeper into nature and public land issues to incorporate into my artwork!
I’m looking forward to graduating from college next year. Long term, I’d like to eventually be in charge of art direction for marketing campaigns.
Photos courtesy of and artwork by Brooklyn Bell.
Learn more about SHIFT ->
Leslie Carvitto is a freelance writer and photographer based in Seattle, WA. She is fueled by creativity, community, coffee and the great outdoors. Find more of her work at Forever Stoked and follow her travels on Instagram.