We had the good fortune of connecting with Krista Hill and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Krista, other than deciding to work for yourself, what else do you think played a pivotal role in your story?

After making the decision to work for myself, I had to consciously decide what my personal definition of success truly was. When I first set out to build my new life and business, financial stability was my main goal. I saw others around me buying houses and fancy cars and, for just a moment, I viewed this as success. It took me a few months to crawl out of that distorted perspective and define my own future. After some reflection, I realized my definition of success is living a life I’m passionate about. I am successful because I am living a life full of creativity, fruitful relationships, extreme flexibility and learning through travel and new experiences. Trying to cling to financial stability or a traditional definition of success as a freelance illustrator is maddening. It was not until I let that go, reoriented my “why,” and wholeheartedly pursued a life I love did the financial stability come. Even if that stability is taken away, as it could be in a moments notice, I would still be successful because I will never stop pursuing the life I dared to dream up.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?

My art is created on a digital canvas, primarily utilizing Adobe Illustrator and Adobe Photoshop. Ultimately, what I’m creating will determine which program I use as they both have their strengths, but most often I work seamlessly between the two. I seek to use fresh eyes and develop unique content, mostly appealing to female and child aesthetics. I love to create simplistic art full of color, whimsy and joy. My artwork is a happy place for people to get lost in. I love creating everything from unique logos and branding to whimsical illustrations that tell a story. My ability to approach design as a problem that needs to be solved, while staying tuned in to my inner child and wonderment is truly what sets me apart as an artist. Versatility is also a strength, as my design responsibilities vary from creating catalogs and marketing collateral to 6 foot tall inflatable leprechaun decorations for the yard. I love a good design challenge and I have faced many throughout the years. Each one helps me to sharpen my skills. Like most creatives that choose to make income off their art, I have a very non-traditional revenue stream. My ultimate focus is creating content for my own storefronts and business. I sell downloadable artwork, clip art, and hobbyist cut files, as well as tangible barware, art prints, stickers, cards and coloring materials. I also rely on a handful of consistent freelance clients – primarily branding or custom illustration work – and several contracts with larger companies that allow me to design cool seasonal and kids products that sell on Amazon and Target.com. In addition to that, I license my art to a local needlepoint company who sells canvases of my art prints to needlework shops. It makes tax time a bit crazy, but ultimately, I’m living my dream one art project at a time. As an artist, it’s quite easy to get overwhelmed with the challenges one can face in developing a full time career with your craft, particularly as an entrepreneur. The challenges are pretty endless – no different than all the best things in life! The money thing was pretty hard for me in the beginning, especially since I spent my first 10 years of adulthood as a thriving massage therapist where I rarely ran into financial scarcity. But my heart was in the right place – living out my passion of creating every day – so I made it through. I designed auto ads, set up at weekend art festivals, took on projects for half of what they were worth, dabbled in bartending, and created custom works wherever I could. Basically, if there was a chance at gaining income from my creativity, I did it. Even before I was an established artist I hustled my heart’s work wherever I could. I painted murals, figured out how to design t-shirts, hand painted chalk boards, and ran my own extravagant cake business for awhile. I even went down to the Virgin Islands hoping I could find someone who would pay me for sand sculptures. It didn’t work, but I sure had fun trying! There typically isn’t an easy path to anything that matters, but it makes for really good stories and lessons. The most important lessons I learned and am still learning are all about developing my career based on the life I want to live, not finding a career then basing my life around it. When I focused on the money, the art rarely came. When I focused on creating, I found abundance. When I created art with other peoples perceived desires in mind, it didn’t sell. When I created art for myself, it flew off the shelf. When I felt and thought negatively about my career or artwork, nobody wanted to work with me. When I accepted that I’m good at my craft and realized the value I bring, I found the revenue I desired. I can’t stress enough how important it is to focus on why you are doing what you are doing. If the answer is simply “to make money from art,” you probably won’t be too successful. Another crucial lesson I learned is to keep developing my mind and experiences. I buy journals that help me plot out my next five years. I listen to audio books that are guides to health, creativity, mental clarity, world issues and compassion for others. I meditate nearly daily, pass along positivity and kindness, and try to surround myself with a variety of different people from different walks of life. Continuing to learn allows me to continue to grow, and in my experience, pouring out lots of creativity requires taking in a lot of inspiration. I look for inspiration in absolutely everything. My brand is currently in a transitional period, and I will be rolling out my new business name soon. I am developing a whole slew of downloadable art for use for female entrepreneurs, mommas, educators, hobbyists, small business owners, and people that fancy whimsy. I’m aiming to create beautiful and accessible art that allows others to express their creativity and to use my art as their needs call. For example, I am building Direct to Print storefronts so people can order t-shirts, mugs, shower curtains – whatever item they desire – with my art on it. I’m selling designs that can be turned in to notebooks and wine glasses and t-shirts for mommas that like to craft at home. I’m offering fun clip art for web and graphic designers to incorporate into their work. Basically, I’m creating a downloadable super center so anyone who needs it can access it, but focusing in on where lack of content and my passions collide.

Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.

I LOVE this Valley and all it has offer, so this is a hard one to summarize. Inside the city, hiking to Tom’s Thumb, Squaw Peak or Two Bit Mountain are my favorites. For a little adventure and true Sonoran Desert scenery, I like to take guests to Cave Creek to hike Spur Cross Ranch. The old west style boutiques are great to visit after and Local Johnny’s has awesome ambiance and coffee. Walking around or kayaking Tempe Town Lake and cruising up and down Mill Street on Scooters is always a blast! I love to take in the beauty of the Tempe Center for the Arts. Their happy hour with local artists is fun too! My favorite food spot in Tempe is Cornish Pasty. I love their tiny swanky bar and the cuisine is great for vegetarians and carnivores alike! Downtown Phoenix makes for awesome pictures, and my favorite spot is The Churchill. They figured it out. Welcome Diner off Pierce Street has some amazing food, and Hanny’s Pizza and ambiance are unique and visit-worthy. Uptown has my favorite restaurant in the Valley – Chula’s Seafood. It’s fresh, sustainable and definitely prepared correctly. If heading here, I like to take friends to the little venues around this area, like my favorite boutique, Frances, and cool little hang out spots like Rott n’ Grapes, Clever Koi and The Womack. If its a Wednesday or Saturday the Uptown Farmers Market is always worth a visit! Over in Coronado I love to take friends to the Giving Tree Cafe to experience a plant based restaurant that cares so much about the earth. I also love the food and ambiance at The Coronado and The Main Ingredient Ale House. Then driving a bit north and thrifting through Melrose is always a blast! Out in East Valley there are so many cool things! Downtown Gilbert definitely has the weekend food scene covered, and I like to describe it as a collection of my favorite places in the Valley, since most of the best restaurants now fill their downtown. Huge shoutout to Liberty Market! For a day trip, Sedona is my number one choice. Gotta stop at Rock Springs Cafe on the way up for literally the best pie ever. They’ve been making the same recipes for over 100 years! Of course, the hiking is impeccable, and so are the spiritual healing centers. I love Cathedral Rock and Soldiers Pass, but I don’t think I could pick a favorite. They are all so beautiful and unique. Jerome is a fun stop on the way back home. I love that you can see the history here while learning about and drinking some fresh Arizona wine.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?

I’ve got to start by acknowledging my faith in Jesus and an abundant, loving God. My faith has given me courage I would not know apart from it. It’s been so necessary for me to stop and reflect on the greater picture of this life and planet. I highly suggest a faith tune-up for anyone who feels they are lacking here. Religion doesn’t have to be what you grew up with – you can discover what it is for yourself! My siblings and parents have shown up to support me in huge ways, and I could never be where I’m at or who I am without them. My boyfriend, Matt, has been here through this whole journey encouraging me and being there with me when I needed help – from setting up festivals to feeding me on long nights of deadline driven creative frenzy, or to just simply offer arms to cry in if it ever became too much. In addition to my faith, family and partner, I also found a women’s gathering that I’m obsessed with. It’s called AZ Babes and Brews and its an awesome group full of like-minded women that create space for us to just be ourselves. This group has expanded my mind and business and has allowed me to form bonds with people that march to a similar drum as me. I never thought it was possible to find so many women who want to be good and do good from their core. We are a chosen family, and I highly suggest any entrepreneur seeks a community of like-minded humans that resonate with them. Lastly, I constantly listen to audio books. A few authors that have really helped my mental state to expand my business and creativity are as follows: Jen Sincero, Mel Robbins, Rachel Hollis, and most recently, I listened to “Big Magic” written by Elizabeth Gilbert. I wish I would have listened to this book sooner. Anyone attempting a life in the business of creativity needs to hear her words. They so closely align with my vision of creativity I still get goosebumps thinking about it. As far as other local businesses in the valley, I’d love to shoutout Dulce Vida in East Valley for their healthy vegan beverages. SO GOOD! Lauren at Hammered and Stained makes awesome art accessible to everyone with her sign and paint projects. The Merchantile in Scottsdale hosts most of my favorite artists in they valley. All three businesses above stock my products and are definitely worth a visit!

Website: https://www.kristaannhill.com
Instagram: @kristahilldesigns
Facebook: @kristahilldesigns
Other: Redbubble – https://www.redbubble.com/people/KristaHill25/shop?asc=u Etsy: https://www.etsy.com/shop/KristaHillDesigns

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutArizona is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.