Instagram: @mokeen_
Website: www.maureenkeeney.com

1. What’s your story? Where are you from?

Hey! I’m Maureen and I’m a freelance illustrator/newbie graphic designer. I currently split my time between Santa Barbara and Los Angeles, CA, where I live with my boyfriend, my dog, and my two cats. 

I grew up in Long Island, so I’m still a New Yorker at heart. I’ve been drawing since as early as I can remember, although I took a long hiatus from illustrating and I’m just, as of the last couple of years, trying to get back into the swing of things. 

I recently turned 30, but it was a pandemic 30, so I’m just going to say it doesn’t count. I’m 29 and 15 months. 

2. Tell us about your aesthetic.

Sometimes I think my aesthetic is a little hard to pin down. I’m always asking for reassurance from my boyfriend that my artwork looks like it’s done by the same person. 

To me, my aesthetic is constantly evolving but I suppose the best I can say is I like to make little scenes. Almost like a snow globe where you’re looking in on this one moment in time in this little world. 

3. What is your favourite medium and why?

I like to work digitally. I painted a lot when I was younger and went to traditional art schools throughout my life, so I’ve tried a bunch of different mediums. Working digitally gives me the immediate gratification I crave. 

I wish I could be one of those people that can sit down for hours getting messy and loving every second of it, but I’m too impatient. I have a lot of respect for people that work traditionally. 

4. What is your artistic process like?

I usually think of a scene or a character first. Then I think of what world they would be in and what they would be doing. I have an idea of where I want everything to be when I first start sketching, but sometimes I make a rough sketch of a few different angles. From there I do some rough colors before starting on the final artwork. 

5. Who and/or what inspires your work? 

As a kid, I loved all the classic Disney movies – Snow White, Fantasia, Pinocchio. I also really loved Miyazaki movies. When I was 11, I saw Spirited Away in theatres and it still blows me away to this day. 

I love whimsical, strange worlds, but I like the focus to be on the characters more than the environment. In my opinion, there’s less of a story if you can’t see it through someone else’s eyes.

6. What role does art play in your life? How does it change the way you view the world?

When I was young, I would always be drawing; I went to school for art and tried to draw whenever I could. Due to family and work, I had to put art on the back burner for most of my twenties. It wasn’t until I lost my dad suddenly that I really got back into it. He always supported my art, and I think it might have hurt him to see me not pursue it anymore. 

Now, I try my best to be inspired by the little things, whatever and wherever they may be. I drew so much while I was deep in grief, partially to distract myself and partially to prove something to myself. I’m glad I did, because it’s given me the confidence to put myself back out there. 

7. Where did you study?

I grew up in Long Island where I was lucky enough to go to a high school dedicated to the arts. Prior to that, I was a really bad student who constantly cut class and snuck home to play video games. I had a great guidance counsellor who was able to get me into LIHSA (Long Island High School for the Arts). From there, I went to FIT (Fashion Institute of Technology) for illustration, before transferring to SVA (School of Visual Arts) for cartooning/illustration. When I was 27, I went back to school at UCLA to get a certificate in Design Communication Arts, and I’m just about to graduate! 

8. Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years, I’m hoping to have illustrated a children’s book (or 2) and be getting steady freelance work. I’m right at the beginning of my journey to self-employment, so I’m hoping I can make that a reality in the near future.

9. What about in ten?

Oh, man, it’s a little scary trying to look that far into the future. I hope the world is doing well and not on fire. Also, that I’ll have been successful in my goals and satisfied with how far I’ve come. 

10. What do you hope to achieve with your art?

I hope that people see my work and feel as if they’re spending a moment in this character’s world.

11. Now, tell us a little more about you as a person: what is your favourite food?

I feel like this changes all the time. I like all different kinds of food, so my favorite food can fluctuate by the day. Right now, I’d kill for some Indian food. Mild, because I’m a big baby. 

12. Favourite book?

I honestly don’t read too many books, which is kind of sad because my boyfriend is a writer. Don’t ask me how this works. I love spooky stories though. My favorite graphic novel is Uzumaki by Junji Ito. Anything by Junji Ito is good. 

13. Favourite genre of music? 

I don’t think I have a favorite genre but my favorite artist is Bjork. I feel like she’s kind of her own genre. 

14. What are your hobbies? 

I’m way too into reality tv and true crime shows. Sometimes to an unhealthy degree. I’ve seen every spin-off of 90 Day Fiancé and refer to each person on a first name basis.

15. If you weren’t an artist, what would you be?

I wish I had the emotional strength to be a vet, or take care of animals in need of help. I would so want to do everything I can to help these little creatures that give my life so much meaning. 

But honestly I’d probably just make a true crime podcast or something.