Kelly Abeln Channels Her Anxiety Into Her Comics

Minneapolis-based illustrator Kelly Abeln makes us giggle shamelessly with her approachable, outspoken comic strips shared through her Instagram page. In a year of uncertainty, Abeln’s work is the kind that makes you feel less alone with the ups and downs of everyday life.

A recent favorite of ours is a series of illustrations that captures perfectly the silver lining that might be had in times of pandemic.

“During a time of crisis, my mind doesn’t need to invent any,” reads one caption which sees an illustrated version of Abeln meditating in the midst of a raging fire.

“A year of lowered expectations, practice accepting uncertainty, and not leaving my comfort zone has reduced my anxiety,” notes the candid illustrator. “But what happens when this ends?!”

Such forthcoming reflections are what make Abeln’s work a delightful treat that has amassed some 15,000 plus followers on Instagram.

“I love that what I want to do aligns with how I support myself,” Abeln shared with MCAD Alumni. “I also love seeing people’s reactions to my work and that I get to see things I create out in the world.”

A freelance illustrator with a Bachelor’s degree in Fine Arts and Illustration from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Abeln agrees with the old saying that variety is the spice of life. “The variety of working from home, working on a contract assignment, and personal projects keeps things interesting,” she notes.

And as for inspiration—she might as well turn to her work desk. “Inspiration comes from working,” says Abeln. “Just keep making stuff and ideas will come.”