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Meet Leslie Kell

Today we’d like to introduce you to Leslie Kell.

Leslie, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I began my artistic journey as an airbrush painter and illustrator. I eventually found myself transitioning to a career as a graphic artist, and I’ve been fortunate to operate my own freelance design business for over 25 years. In the last decade, I’ve been able to transition back to pursuits in fine art. While my aesthetic tendencies had not shifted significantly over the years, my medium of choice had changed quite a bit.

I was able to tap into my unique skillset as a longtime graphics professional to create an original technique that synthesizes the artistry of both design and photography. In late 2008, I created my very first digital collage using my own photos and Adobe Creative Suite. I quickly realized that the possibilities were endless and ten years later I am still chasing that elusive vision of the perfect image.

My imagery is contemporary, optimistic and very, very distinctive. I design surreal environments in which my original photos are assembled into the spaces and patterns of the forms. As the lights and darks of the photos interact with the shapes of the design, they create a whole new imaginary world.

So today, I call myself a digital artist. Of course, this means eating the words of my 20-year-old self: “I will never create art on a computer.” But let’s face it, the world has changed; the rules have changed, and I can live with that.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
Building an artistic practice can be compared to chiseling through a wall. You have no idea how dense or thick the wall is, or how long it might take to break through, yet you keep chipping away. Some days that blind faith is harder to muster than others. Perseverance and hard work can break down those walls.

As a digital artist in the beginnings of the movement, the very legitimacy of digital art itself was a barrier, I was met with in introducing my artwork to the world. At the time, the digital medium was still skirting the fringes of acceptance. But, I was hooked!

Fortunately, I found supporters and began to feel that I owed it to myself to see what this vibrant new medium had to offer. And now, I feel owe it to my collectors to see how far I can take it and what I have to offer to the movement.

We’d love to hear more about what you do.
“I’ve never seen anything like this.” Is the most consistent comment I hear when a person is introduced to my work for the first time. I take pride in the fact that my artwork is totally unique, from the imagery to the framing. Because the images are digital in their beginnings, what comes next is highly customizable.

I am able to provide unique options for collectors ranging from museum quality one-of-a-kind artist’s masters to open edition prints. I offer “virtual hangings” for collectors who have a specific space they would like to see in situ.

My graphic design background comes in handy here. I just need a photograph of the space and some basic measurements to mock up a piece in a virtual hanging. A selection of my images is transformed into “Artist’s Masters.” Each Artist’s Master is an original, one-of-a-kind creation.

An archival canvas is printed and hand-stretched, then paint and textural elements are added. The piece is finished with enhanced framing (custom designed for each individual piece) to create a somewhat sculptural presentation. Once a design is produced as an Artist’s Master, it is not reproduced in the same way again.

All of my images can be printed on a wide range of substrates and options to fit any space. These options range from limited edition prints on fine art paper to open edition and edition varie on metal, canvas and more. All prints are hand signed.

Through my unique technique, I am able to create customized artwork to capture specific locations, special events and various themes for both commercial and private collections. I also offer image licensing of my images.

What is “success” or “successful” for you?
It’s nice to look around occasionally and say, “Wow, I really am a professional artist.” It’s a great place to check in and feel gratitude.

But I’m unsure as a creative professional that it’s ever possible to reach that elusive “success” marker. Ask any artist if they prefer their older work or their newer work — most will answer the newer. As a creative, you are always reaching for the next thing, it’s what keeps you creating.

On a pure numbers side of things… a gallery owner told me the other day that I am one of her top two sellers and have had over 300% growth in my art sales in 2018. I suppose that is a marker.

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Getting in touch: VoyageHouston is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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