A couple days ago I found myself in a pitch black hut in Mexico sitting in front of a pit filled with burning lava rocks. Four other people joined with me, including a shaman who continually threw water and herbs into the burning pit, creating a sauna effect that caused us to sweat profusely. The Mayans created this experience, the Temazcal, to recreate being inside the womb. I felt everything in my mind and body weaken and become weightless from the heat.
The shaman asked us to imagine the moments of our childhood, leading to our juvenile selves, into adulthood. I realized that throughout my life, drawing, stories, and art had been the central vein running through everything. The dream and purpose of it all was to make a living out of drawing. In the dark I saw the embodiment of myself, of all that I’ve strived for, and with that an overwhelming sense of gratitude.
A year ago I started my own business, Krystal Lauk Studios. As an independent Illustrator and Designer, I had the opportunity to work with some of the most prominent tech companies in town, prestigious organizations, notable publications, and bright eyed startups. One project after another confirmed the validation that, yes, I am making a living out of drawing.
But what’s next?
Then one day, an email popped into my inbox, inviting me to apply for a full time Illustrator position for Google Play. That email turned into phone calls that turned into an onsite meeting- which then turned into a job offer. It’s funny how quickly opportunities manifest themselves, and before you know it, your life begins a whole new direction.
I begin my new role working with Google June 6th, 2016!
Growing up, people often told me that illustration is a dying industry. I had professors in university tell me that the farthest your illustration career may go would be a few sparse gigs alongside your Starbucks barista job. What was never accounted for was the unlikely industry that would create a golden age for illustration- the technology sector. Google, one of the most prominent companies in the word understands illustration as a limitless communication and experience tool. Illustration helps solve the great challenge of bringing genuine and delightful experiences into technology.
It’s an obvious statement that technology has changed every facet of modern society. Countless services and products have moved to our screens, changing the way we interact, the way we consume, and the way we go about our daily lives. Many of our experiences (about 5 hours a day) exist in a 5 inch space. UI/UX design serves to make these experiences fluid and intuitive through understanding human behavior, but what about human emotion?
Illustration serves as a tool to communicate anything that can be imagined, anything that can be felt, any complex concept, and any narrative. From human hand to human eye, the experience feels genuine, relatable, hand crafted, and sincere. As our lives become more and more inundated with all things digital, those aspects play so much importance into what it means to be human.
Like most children, I grew up with a lot of illustrated storybooks. These books connected us, they crossed generations, and they defined the first perspectives of how we see the world.
Like many teenagers, I spent hours daydreaming into album cover artwork as the accompanying songs riveted through my soul. The experience guided our newfound tastes and shaped the identity of our juvenile selves.
Throughout time we are imprinted with visuals that come to define us. These days our illustrated storybooks exist largely on tablets, and our music albums exist in services like Google Play. Illustration and technology help enrich experiences in new ways, but in tandem the foundation remains unchanged. It helps create moments that ground us to our earliest selves, invite us to play, push our imaginations, and introduce us to new concepts. As we move forward into our brave new world, illustration helps bring us full circle.