Phoenix Illustrator Kelsey Dake's Mid-Century Modern, Hyper-Organized Studio

Categories: Personal Space

dakemain copy.jpg
Photos by Claire Lawton
Kelsey Dake has a very thick half-wall between her studio and the rest of her home in uptown Phoenix.

The 23-year-old illustrator stresses the importance of a work and home-life balance, which is hard to pull off when both things happen in the same space, but probably necessary when you're juggling personal projects, assignments from big-name publications, and a commission from singer/songwriter Beck (more on all of that later).

See also:
- Kelsey Dake in Jackalope Ranch's 100 Creatives
- Beck's Song Reader To Get Local Treatment by Black Carl, Jim Adkins, Spirit Cave, and More

Claire Lawton
Kelsey Dake in her studio.
Dake describes her space as Mid-Century Modern with a collection of her own finds from ASU Surplus as well as vintage and modern home boutiques including Modern Manor, Modern Lighting, and Phoenix Metro Retro.

Her studio is casual, but hyper-organized. When she's not answering e-mails and catching up with her network of freelance artists on Twitter (find her at @kdakeis), she's illustrating by hand -- with Japanese brush pens -- on a large table in the middle of the space.

Toward the back of the room is a large drying rack and an enormous screen printer that she uses to hand-pull editions of her work that she occasionally puts up for sale.

Paper copies of Dake's work are relatively easy to find. She's done countless illustrations for McSweeney's, Business Week, Lucky Peach, Wired, New York Times, and New York Times Magazine (to name a few) and has been featured in American Illustration. But you'd be harder-pressed to come across an original -- most of which are hand-drawn only on cotton paper and are stored in a flat file.

"I have separation issues with my work . . . and I don't like creating work or printing on material that's going to fall apart," says Dake. "My work is a manifestation of time, and a representation of experiences I've had throughout my life. I want it to last forever."

As a result of her prolific schedule and her reluctancy to sell originals, her work has become simultaneously widespread and rare.

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Kelsey Dake is not only a talented designer with a keen eye and deft hands; she's genuinely nice and truly cares about Phoenix.  She's part of the 1% who're actually doing cool things here instead of griping, maligning or wasting away in the Valley of the Sun. Kudos for the piece Jackalope and thanks for highlighting her!

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