Selective Focus: Emily Krueger

This week, illustrator Emily Krueger tells how she began to incorporate digital techniques into her painting and drawing styles, as well as how she has looked for a wide variety of opportunities to get her work out there and make her own job.

EK: My professional training is in graphic design and fine art (specifically, oil painting). I’ve dabbled in most mediums; watercolor, acrylic, drawing, graphic art, pastel, and colored pencil. As an illustrator, my main medium is a mix of pencil drawing and digital painting.

Drawn, Vol. 1

I’ve always loved to draw, but there have been a few important moments along the way that have gotten me to my current work and style. In high school and college art courses I learned to draw many different subjects in many different styles. I was trying to take in everything in order to find my niche. During my junior year of college at Bemidji State University, the art association volunteered to do an art project with a home for vulnerable adults. The Art Assoc. president paired me with a man who loved dragons because “animals are your thing”. Until that point, I hadn’t noticed that trend in my style, artistic strengths, and interest. Animals WERE my thing!


As I continued to learn more about art techniques and career possibilities, I came across a PhotoShop tutorial online by the mega talented illustrator Teagan White. She shared how she used clipping masks to apply color to a drawing. I tried it with a drawing of my own, and a whole new world of digital artwork opened up.

From there, I’ve worked to learn more PhotoShop techniques and develop my drawing style; with each project I’ve done I’ve learned something new.

2017 Quilt Minnesota fabric

Most of my illustration work starts with a hand-rendered pencil drawing. I scan that drawing in, knock out the white paper, and layer color underneath the drawing. Whether I use a digital process, oil paint or watercolors, I try to maintain a consistent style of soft colors and blending- all of my work might appear painted, whether the coloring was completely digital or tangible paint.

“Floral Deer” card for Trader Joe’s

I’ve been working with this drawing/digital technique for about five years.

I’ve found that one of the biggest challenges for illustrators in my position, or anyone trying to do creative freelance work, is that you’re making your own job. It can be difficult to make it financially feasible, and work will most likely be inconsistent. Especially if you’re just starting and you may not see royalties or full contract payments until after a release date.

However, if you are pursuing a career in art it probably means that you love what you do. Having someone trust you with their project, and seeing your finished product out in the world is a great feeling.

“Garden Turtle”


Instagram: @emilykruegerart
Facebook: Emily Krueger Illustration
Etsy: EmilyKIllustration
Public Art: Window murals at 218 Home+Gift (Bemidji)
Shops/Galleries: 218 Home+Gift (Bemidji), Unglued (Fargo), Lake+Co. (Grand Rapids), White Spruce Market (Duluth), Arrow Printing (Bemidji), Hwy North (Minneapolis), Long Lake Conservation Center (Palisade)
Other: Quilt Minnesota, Laketime Magazine, Crooks Press: Drawn, Vol 1.

In the past year I’ve found myself stumbling into two new areas of illustration that I didn’t expect — children’s book illustrating and fabric design, both of which I’m very excited about. Last year I illustrated my first book with friend and MN Author T.D. Smith, called Goodnight Server Room. (amazon link, book on my website) I also had the opportunity to be a featured artist for the 2017 Quilt Minnesota fabric. Following those two projects, I’ve started the process of illustrating a children’s book (Caterpillar’s Surprise by Janet Halfmann) with Kwil Publishing, and sketching for the 2019 Quilt Minnesota fabric. Both projects will be released in 2019. For more personal projects, I’d love to illustrate a book with my husband or finish digital RPG board pieces for the website Roll20.

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