Karen Kurycki

RD18_J_KAREN_1

ART DIRECTOR/ILLUSTRATOR, CMYKAREN, JACKSONVILLE FL

My name is Karen Kurycki. I am an independent art director/illustrator based out of Jacksonville FL, working under the name CMYKaren. There are two main themes to my life: expressing ideas through art and design and working to make a difference. While I have represented a wide range of clients and corporations over the past 15 years, I especially enjoy working with small local startups as they establish their identity and brand. A significant amount of my time has been spent with nonprofit organizations in Jacksonville, helping raise awareness so they can survive and thrive to help the community. I’ve also created a handful of self-initiated projects that impact my community directly.

HOW AND WHY DID YOU COME TO USE DESIGN TO ADVANCE SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE AND/OR SUSTAINABLE PROJECTS, CLIENTS AND CAUSES?

Designing for good is just something I have always done. As a preschooler I made a paper sculpture of a body to decorate my pediatrician’s office and in high school I helped found an organization that paired students with volunteer opportunities all over Rochester NY where I grew up. My talents are in art and design and so I naturally use them as tools to call attention to and perhaps bring about change within the community. As designers I feel we have the responsibility and ability to help so many — the possibilities are endless for collaborating to make our communities better.

One organization I worked closely with for many years is Rethreaded. Kristin Keen and her team work helping women coming out of the sex trade to turn their lives around by employing them and offering recovery services. The visibility of that organization and its outreach has grown immensely and I am very proud to have had a role.
This past year I spent a lot of time on design and illustration for a new book called Wowsdom, created to empower young women. While the words of advice and backstories of the women who contributed to the book are inspiring and comforting, presenting them in a colorful, vibrant and easy-to-read format has contributed to the book becoming an Amazon bestseller.

As I mentioned above, I’ve also pursued several self-initiated projects. I worked with Summer Wood, a fellow artist and friend, on a project called 100 Days for LGBcuTIes, highlighting a wide spectrum of LGBTQIA individuals working towards a safer and more inclusive Jacksonville. We created 100 portraits of people working to pass a new Human Rights Ordinance (HRO). As each portrait and accompanying narrative was shared through social media, people involved in this emotional struggle told us they felt less alone, more supported, more visible. In 2017 the Jacksonville City Council voted to expand the HRO to prohibit discrimination based on “sexual orientation” and “gender identity.”

Another local community example: Since I’m passionate about voting awareness, I have worked with other local artists and high school students to produce campaigns that encourage young people to participate. In 2015, I helped create the Jax Young Voters Coalition, a bipartisan young professionals group that encourages involvement.

Some of my design for good has evolved from my close association with AIGA over the past 13 years. I am particularly proud of co-founding a high school mentoring program — Discover Design — that has grown and flourished here in Jacksonville.

ARE THERE ANY SPECIAL CHALLENGES, OPPORTUNITIES, URGENCIES IN 2018?

We’re all exhausted and frustrated by the current divisive political climate. It takes passion and energy to be creative and sometimes that is hard to find. The greatest urgency is to continue to do the work, and to do it with compassion and civility. This includes reaching across the aisle and treating others with kindness, no matter how hard that might be. We must continue to help young people understand that their voice matters and that it can be raised to create change.