Kaley McKean’s Illustrations Keep Your Eyes Busy

Toronto-based illustrator Kaley McKean loves working with color, texture, and pattern. Inspired by medieval bestiaries, folklore, traditional handicrafts, and the natural world, her work has a somewhat nostalgic feel to it.

“I’ve never really been a minimalist in any aspect of my life and I’m not in my illustration either,” she told Ape on the Moon. “I love decorative art and I love bringing together color, texture, and pattern into something that keeps your eyes busy for a while.”

“I have the most fun looking at art that has so much going on that it seems to vibrate,” she went to say. “I bring cohesiveness to the work by limiting my palette to three or four colors and strive for a composition that has the right balance of energy and tension.”

Living in the top two stories of a Victorian home on Toronto’s west end, she shares her workspace with a small menagerie that includes a cat, a snake, a tree frog, and a husband (who is also an illustrator) named Nolan Pelletier.

McKean received her BDes in Illustration from OCAD U in 2012, and since then has been working in the realms of editorial illustration, children’s publishing, and product design. Her list of clients includes The New York Times, Smithsonian Magazine and Storey Publishing.