Kelly Spencer
I'm a muralist, lettering artist & illustrator from the east coast of NZ with a big appreciation for the magical, reciprocal relationships between Mama Earth's inhabitants. I loves to travel, and relish in the regular opportunities which lead me to create work throughout NZ and the world.

Illustrations, Paintings, Murals/Street Art

Can you share a brief overview of your creative journey, from when you first started pursuing your creative career to where you are now?

I boldy (naievely?) stepped into freelance illustration and design 14 years ago, beginning with poorly paid gig and theatre poster designs, and graphic design for a few local bars in Wellington. In the years that followed I dropped graphic design, and shifted into street art and murals. Now my time is divided evenly between illustrative work and large scale mural work.

What inspired you to become an artist, and how did you decide to pursue it as a career?

I met a girl on a boat in the Caribbean who was a freelance designer (before digital nomad was even a word) and realized if I pursued this same path it’d allow me freedom to travel and work at the same time, on my own schedule.

How do you balance your creative pursuits with the practical aspects of being an artist such as marketing, networking and financial management?

With zero structure whatsoever. I just flow through each day, but am fortunately organised enough to ensure that all of the aspects are covered in due time.

What is the most rewarding aspect of being a creative person?

Everything. Being a creative spills into all areas of life. It’s interwoven. Freedom. Lack of monotony. A constant state of awe.

What keeps you motivated and passionate about your craft?


What advice would you give to young artists who are just starting out and considering a creative career?

Make the work that you want to see in the world, and share it with people.

How important is it for artists to find their unique style or voice?


How did you discover and develop your own artistic identity?

It is ever evolving, but my artistic identity is informed by that which matters to me. The older I get, the more clarity I have around that.

Can you talk about the role of failure and perseverance in the life of an artist?

I think it helps to not be a true perfectionist. To finish something and then set it free. It’s ok if you never want to look at it again. And it’s also ok if nobody else likes it or understands it.

What are some misconceptions or myths about being an artist that you would like to debunk?

Lol. We’ve come a long way in the time i’ve worked in this field, but I would still like to debunk the well-meaning folk who still continue to ask “are you getting paid to do that?” when I’m 5 metres up in the air painting a wall. It’s embarassing. Nobody asks the bank clerk if they’re being paid.

How do you navigate the art industry and find opportunities to showcase your work or collaborate with others?

Word of mouth is a magical thing. Continuing to make new work and share it, and stay informed about festivals and organisations who are producing cool events.

What are some common challenges artists face in terms of recognition and financial stability, and how can they be addressed?

Tbh, I feel like this narrative is wearing thin. Myself and many of my peers have been financially stable for a long time, because we continue to produce quality work. We’re focussed and dedicated. BUT – I work commercially, I think it would be much more slippery if I were to be focussed on fine art and gallery work. The one thing that’s changed the landscape dramatically is instagram – while it’s theoretically opened up opportunities to get noticed, it’s also made the pool so over-saturated that everybody is yelling over each other, trying to get noticed.

How do you stay connected with other artists and the larger creative community?

Online, and at festivals.

Can you share any tips for artists to market and promote their work effectively in today’s digital age?

I don’t think I have anything new to add to this…

Are there any specific resources, workshops, or organisations you would recommend for young artists who want to further develop their skills and knowledge?

None specifically, but going to conferences and attending workshops is a great way to connect with other creatives. I’m sure online works for a lot of people, but I don’t believe it can compete with real life sensory interactions.

How do you approach self-criticism and growth as an artist?

By being kind to myself.

What strategies do you use to continually improve your craft?

Everytime I finish something, I look at it and know that it could’ve been better..! Artists are never fully satisfied, other we’d stop trying.

Have you ever experienced creative blocks or periods of low inspiration? If so, how did you overcome them?

Absolutely. And I either resolve them with travel; New experiences, smells, sounds, sights are SO good for our hearts and minds, OR by not trying to create at all. Just stop for a few weeks. Do something else. It works wonders.

Do you believe it’s necessary to have a degree in art to succeed?

Nope. I don’t have one!

Can you share any memorable experiences or achievements in your creative career that have had a significant impact on your journey?

So many unexpected magical moments. It’s like a big Choose your own Adventure story. But discovering the world of street art, specifically through involvement in the Sea Walls art festivals was a pivitol moment for me. I’m so very grateful for any public art opportunity – they enliven me and make me hungry for more.

Is there anything else you would like to share with young creators aspiring to pursue a creative career?

DO it. It’s so much better for your soul, and the world which supports and surrounds you than exhausting yourself 9-5 for someone elses pocket.

You can find Kelly Spencer at: