7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #61: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Kali Ciesemier

h1 May 4th, 2008 by Eisha and Jules

Jules: Bonjour, indeed! It’s that time of the month again. We’re featuring a student of illustration today, this time the one and only Kali Ciesemier, whose classes at the Maryland Institute College of Art end THIS FRIDAY — and she graduates on May 19th! We happen to think that featuring her art work now is great timing, though we certainly thank her for taking the time to do so during a crazybusy time in her life. Graduation and all that. Yeesh. She’s probably scurrying around right now, doing a million things. Wait, I know she is. She told me so. So, thanks to Kali for taking the time to visit us this morning and show us some of her art work.

Pictured below is one savagely cool, terrifically tough rollerblader, “Betty Beatdown of the Charm City Roller Girls,” and below that is a hello from Kali and a bit more about her and her plans.

Kali: My name is Kali (short for Kathryn Alison) Ciesemier, and I was born and raised in the suburbs around Chicago. I love Chicago, but I jumped ship to study illustration at the Maryland Institute College of Art (MICA), where I am about to graduate! Illustration requires a lot of work as a career path, but what makes me love it is the fact that it’s all about solving problems. You’re given an idea with certain guidelines and limitations (with the goal of making an appropriate, aesthetically-pleasing, and comprehensible piece of art) and you have to find the best way to do it. It’s a great challenge, every time!

I love all kinds of illustration, but vintage posters, hand lettering, and children’s books are all especially inspiring to me. One of my favorite books as a kid was Harold and the Purple Crayon, because the idea of being able to draw a whole world for yourself, and others, is really what creating art is all about. I love the humor and lightheartedness that you find in illustrations for kids, and I like to try and apply that same energy to all my work. I have even been working on writing a children’s book myself, but, man, is it hard! I have a lot of respect for all the authors and illustrators out there who make it happen every day.

As an almost-graduate, the world of Real Life is pretty big and a little intimidating, but I’m ready for it! I’ve done some work already, making illustrations for children’s magazines and posters for local venues in Baltimore, so I’d like to build on that and expand my work into even more magazines, books, comics, animation, or whatever else might come my way (especially in the children’s field)! Keep an eye peeled for Kali Ciesemier in the future, and I’ll do my best not to disappoint.

(If you’re interested in the present, take a look at my portfolio at www.ciesemier.com or peek in on my newest pieces and news bits at kalidraws.blogspot.com. I’d be pleased as pie to hear any comments, questions, critiques, or whatever else you’d like to say!)

Pictured here is, in Kali’s words, “a slightly ominous topiary collection . . . Part of a series of eccentric millionaires!” I don’t know about you, but I find the placement of the sun in this image both comforting and disturbing (both good things). That’s creepycrazygood.

Kali is also giving us a sneak peak below of a piece of art work that is not on her website and that she hasn’t posted about yet at her blog, Kali Ciesemier Draws Some Things. “I did a cover wrap-around for Cicada magazine (the 14+ magazine from the same publisher that does Cricket, Muse, Spider, etc.),” she told us, “and they told me that the theme was, ‘It’s an eye-opener and no mistake!’ which is apparently a line from The Lord of the Rings. I decided to go with a non-lord-of-the-rings inspired piece, but I still thought it’d be an eye-opener!”

We love sneak peeks. Thanks, Kali!

Kali’s web site has recently been updated, so go take a look at some of her other creations. Many thanks to Kali, and happy upcoming graduation to her! Oh, and she also told me that she recently drove up to New York to go to the Society of Illustrators’ student awards reception, since one of her pieces got in. She didn’t ask me to say that, but there, I said it, ’cause that’s pretty exciting. Let’s hope she’s not so modest that she’ll, I dunno, paint my face in one of those topiaries in her creepygood topiary image for bragging about her.

Best of luck to Kali! When she becomes obscenely famous one day for her artistic talents, we can say we saw her back in the day at 7-Imp.

* * * * * * *

As a reminder, our weekly 7 Kicks list is the meeting ground for listing Seven(ish) Exceptionally Fabulous, Beautiful, Interesting, Hilarious, or Otherwise Positive Noteworthy Things from the past week — whether book-related or not — that happened to you (as well as featuring new artists like Kali). You — yes, you reading now — are more than welcome to leave your kicks from the week, whether you’ve ever done so before or not.

* * * * * * *

* * * eisha’s kicks * * *

Hiro = awesome.1* Ooh, the art. I love Betty Beatdown. And the mysterious topiary-decapitating billionare. And I really love the French Cowboy, with his buddy the metal-head Yeti. I don’t know why, I just do. It speaks to me.

2* We’ve finally gotten around to watching Heroes on DVD. I tried to watch it when it first came on tv, but I missed an episode early on and got utterly lost. Now I can’t believe what I’ve been missing. We’re only on episode 8, and I know there’s no way the show can maintain this level of awesome for more than a season, but for now I’m totally in love with it – especially Hiro.

3* Jules and I have been co-writing a bad poem together for Lynn E. Hazen’s Bad Poetry Friday series. It’s been forever since I’ve tried to write poetry, which always used to frustrate me because bad poetry was all I was capable of writing. Now that there’s a use for the skill, I’m having a blast.

4* After sunshine and 75-degree weather for the last couple of weeks, this past week we had a chilly spell – gray skies, occasional thunderstorms, with temps in the 50s. I love it. I need variety in my forecast.

Stupid cilantro. Mine sure doesn’t look like this. It’s all listing to the side, and threateningly yellow.5* So far, all the herbs we got on that Wine and Herb Fest tour last weekend are still alive. The cilantro keeps faking me out, going all wilty and then rallying at the last minute if I give it a little more water or whatever, which is totally stupid on its part since cilantro is my least-favorite herb ever – I think it tastes like feet. All this needy behavior makes me all the more likely to make a big batch of too-early-in-the-season salsa and call it a day. But all the others seem very happy.

6* At a departmental end-of-semester party, I saw two friends/coworkers perform: one sang an aria, and one played the cello. Both were outstanding, and I have a whole new layer of respect and awe for both of them.

7* B. and I checked out the Friends of the Library’s bi-annual booksale Saturday. We came out with our arms full of goodness. Shut up! It’s a disease, people. We can’t help it.

* * * Jules’ kicks * * *

eisha: Speaking of kicks… Jules is having an actual sans-children date with her husband today, and may not get to post her seven before we go to press. See you in the comments, Jules!

Jules: I made it! I’m here. Stop the presses! No, seriously, I’m here three hours before posting, so I think I’ll be okay.

Eisha, I will now always think of you when I partake of cilantro, which I LOVE. Tastes like feet? If I were in fifth grade, I’d be compelled to ask: How do you know what feet taste like, dude? (And then I’d snort obnoxiously, ’cause, hey, I’m in fifth grade).

But that comment did make me laugh out loud.

Anyway, my kicks:

1). Getting that date today with my husband, all sans kids. It was nice to have a kid-free break, and we ate at my favorite restaurant in Nashville.

U can't touch this, meaning Jules' new car2). We came home with a new car, too (well, a new used one, a 2005 car). Whoa. This is a huge thing for us; with me not working full-time in order for one of us to be home with our girls, this is a daunting purchase, but we made it work and really needed a better, safer car for the whole fam damily (if you could see the car we were driving, you’d be laughing at my understatement here. That car was a lot like the one pictured here). We really were just looking but then came home with new wheels (or rizzi, as the cool kids say). Now, I have a CD player in my car and a radio that will actually cooperate. On the way home, I was all excited about being able to hear music on a car radio with volume control that ACTUALLY WORKS, and I caught U2 and “Angie” by The Rolling Stones and even “U Can’t Touch This,” and I turned it up really, REALLY loud (since I had no CDs with me). Admit it: You know you wanna turn MC Hammer up really loud when you’re alone in your car and you hear him. Even my husband was laughing at me (not with me), but then he had to admit that he was enjoying the groove.

My four-year-old has already named the car Swivvy.

3). I think I meant to mention this last week, but, well, I’m scatter-brained (I hate how sexist the phrase “Mommy Brain” sounds, but I’m here to say it’s an actual phenomenon): M.T. (I almost wrote MC again) Anderson wrote a great bad poem (speaking of Lynn Hazen, as Eisha did) over at her blog. As Eisha put it, we’re both in awe that he used the word “unipedal” — and as an end-rhyme, too.

4). Oh, and speaking of poetry again, this poem, which was emailed to me last month—as well as lots of other people—via The Borzoi Reader’s wonderful poem-a-day thingy. I love the very end of the poem, in particular, and love the question: What do you say when love comes to you and asks what you know? Don’t you wish you could indulge in questions like that when you meet someone — instead of small talk? I hate small talk.

5). I think I’m done. I actually had a not-so-glowing week, but I just needed a break from squabbling, wee sisters (my girls)—though don’tchaknow I love them so dearly—and I got one today, so that’s good. And who am I to whine when I have it good compared to a lot of people in this world? Anyway, I’ll close with this video I stumbled upon — in a very roundabout way. Ron Sexsmith looks very drunk and, with all due respect, the camera lingers entirely too long on his lugubrious look there — not to mention the end of the video will make you dizzy. But I like her voice (she’s Ane Brun, a Norwegian singer/songwriter); the melody, especially the chorus; and even those sweet lyrics. Oh and I wanna be one of those dancers in the back:

I am once again terribly behind on blog-reading, so—even though I hope to get caught up soon—I hope folks come to announce their kicks today. So, everybody — what are they? And how about that Kali? Good stuff, huh?

25 comments to “7-Imp’s 7 Kicks #61: Featuring Up-and-Coming Illustrator, Kali Ciesemier”

  1. Oh my GOSH Kali Ciesemier!!! Can her illustrations ROCK any more? WOW. I had so much fun just paging through her portfolio — I **KNOW** this chick isn’t going to disappear. The word that comes to mind is VERSATILE. Hindenburg disaster fashion…roller derby queens, CICADA covers, award-winning poetry illustration — Wow, wow, wow. How do you find these cool people? Thanks for sharing — how exciting to find someone with that kind of talent just starting out. Whoo!

    Okay, I now have to do a little dance for Jules’ new car — and stereo. And laugh at the whole ‘feet’ thing with the cilantro. I’ve never been able to grow the stuff either, Eish, which just chaps my hide, since I LOVE it (Feet? It may taste a little like soap. But feet? And I’m joining Jules on the fifth grade thing: HOW DO YOU KNOW???). It’s a plant that’s a Dolly Drama-Queen, certainly, and will just flat out look dead if it’s an hour past when it thinks it should have been watered. I have way too many plants like that. High maintenance!!

    You guys are my kick this week. You’re so cool.

  2. Eisha, sorry hon, but I’m piling on. Feet? Only if they are adorably tiny, squishy-soft, cute baby bare feet, toddling through blade-thin new grass! I would wear cilantro as a scent, if they made it. (They probably do.) I’m with you on Heroes, though. Totally. And you’re right: enjoy the love while you can, because it starts melting down…

    Jules: Whoop! for the new car! I hope you crank it up (the car and the music) often. What color is Swivvy?


    1) My sister sent me the most awesome birthday memory box, handmade, with pictures of the two of us from childhood and later good times.

    2) I took pictures of it, and turned them into a mini-movie, with a sound track of I’m a Believer (couldn’t leave her)

    3) Then, she sends me a collage of images from Letters From Rapunzel that could easily be a book cover—if they were going to change my cover, which I don’t think they are, but still….it’s gorgeous.

    4) All of this is doubly awesome because she has been too ill to even think about art, let alone make anything this complex and beautiful. I’m rejoicing.

    5) My dog is listening to me on walks. This is HUGE, people. She trots along now, like a show pooch (except when another dog is on our side of the street, but I’m working on that.) Cesar, I am the pack leader!

    5. That post about names and nicknames over at Finding Wonderland. We should do a whole naming MONTH. Month o’ Names. Everyone without a cool nickname gets one. Look! Jules’ car has one already. But what’s its Hobbit name?

  3. Okay, okay. Apparently the writers in the amen corner are not going to let me get away with a poorly-developed simile. How’s this: You know how your feet smell if you wear non-breathable shoes on a hot day? That smell is what cilantro tastes like to me. Sorry to be so nasty, but you weren’t satisfied with “feet,” so…

    Plus, I’m not alone. The I Hate Cilantro society has an entire page on their website devoted to similes for how individual members think it tastes. Some are worse than mine: “like a cigarette if you ate it;” “sucking on a dryer vent;” and “doll hair” are some of my faves.

    Anyway. Sara, your sister sounds almost as awesome as you. And that nickname post was pretty awesome too, TadMack.

  4. TadMack, to answer your question, Kali came highly recommended by illustrator Kelly Murphy. And, yes, she’s versatile, huh? And such a distinctive style.

    Sara, your kicks this week make me very happy. I totally get rejoicing when your sibling whose been struggling is feeling better. You must feel on top of the world.

    I don’t know Swivvy’s Hobbit name; last time I tried to generate my own Hobbit name at that site, it wouldn’t come up. I’ll try again. Oh and Swivvy is that boring tan car color. Booooring, rather. She’s hardly distinctive, but we weren’t going for distinctive, we were going for safe and room-for-four. Now, my youngest can’t kick the back of the driver’s car seat, AND we have four doors. We had this old car but brand new car seats, like the most expensive car seats one can buy ’cause we worry about their safety, and they were all crammed into a small car for a kid-less couple. Now, we can finally afford a safe car to match the honkin’ big, ultra-safe car seats.

    Plus, when I’m retired and the girls are grown and it’s time for distinctive, THAT’s when I’ll go get something like this.

    Eisha, those similes are amusing and I’m glad we live in a free country where they can form their own hate site, but I’m with Sara. YUMMERS. Let’s start a counter we-wanna-put-Cilantro-in-every-meal site. I think I might put some in my coffee this morning.

    Kidding. Did I make you gag, Eisha? Sorry, man.

  5. Happy Sunday!

    Congratulations on your new car, Jules! I guess everyone will know when you’re comin’ with that radio blasting.

    Sara, that’s so awesome that your sis is feeling better and creating all these wonderful keepsakes for you.

    Eisha, Eisha, Eisha — sorry, but you KNOW I can’t let you get away with hating cilantro! My theory is that your plant is wilting because it is smelling YOUR feet :)!
    No really, where would we be without cilantro? No salsa, no Chinese-style steamed red snapper, no K.D. Lang tofu marinade . . .

    My kicks:

    1. Kali’s art! I LOVE the eccentric millionaire and the BONJOUR! cowboy — but did you see the hand lettered alphabets?! and the sticky rice balls?! Such a distinctive style, and so versatile! Thanks for featuring her!

    2. Met some writing friends for tea on Friday. Salmon, cucumber, egg salad, and ham sandwiches, warm scones, ginger snaps, chocolate cake, fudge wafers, etc.

    3. One of those friends has her first picture book coming out in August, and she gave me a signed copy! It felt surreal to see the manuscript we had critiqued in actual book form.

    4. Finally took all the dishes out of my hutch, washed them, and put them back again.

    5. Interviewing Grace Lin and reading the comments from her fans.

    6. Found some cute tops to give to my mom for Mother’s Day.

    7. “Ugly Betty” and “Grey’s Anatomy” are back!

    Have a great week!

  6. I’ve got cilantro seeds planted in peat pots on my windowsill so I can actually grow an abundance, I love it that much. Maybe I just love feet? I’m with Sara– if it were a fragrance, I’d wear it, along with basil, tomato plants (I don’t care for tomatoes, but I surely love how they smell), and cardamom.

    My kicks:
    1) May Pole dancing yesterday at my daughter’s school May Faire.
    2) Carrot and leek seedlings are starting to sprout. I have to thin them, which is counter-intuitive.
    3) Ditto on strawberry plants– I’m plucking off all of the flowers until June. But they should be vigorous plants and we’ll have strawberries.
    4) Even though I’m always nervous before a gig, I’m glad I have one this morning.
    5) Ruby Slippers, Golden Tears (pub in 1995) is coming out in a new edition. I have a poem in it from all those years ago.
    6) Piggy-backing on #5, it was fun to chat a bit via email with Ellen Datlow. I’ve never met her, but she’s been able to track me down to the different places I’ve moved so that she could send royalty checks, new editions, of the book, etc. My first royalty check was for 93 cents! I don’t think I even cashed it (shhhhh), but I got a kick out of getting it.
    7) I’m drawing a blank! I always draw a blank with #7. But then, I could just write that the first cup of coffee each morning is always a kick. And it is.

  7. Jama, your Grace Lin interview was really well-done. And kick #4? I need to do things like that all over my house — all those chores that you dread doing, spring-cleaning-type stuff. Ergh.

    Alkelda, May Pole dancing! I just went and looked at the pics. Looks like so much fun!

    And word to kick #7. Always.

  8. Dang, I’m the cilantro pariah now. C’mon, people, it’s genetic. There are studies. Some of us just taste it differently than you.

    Jama, I loved the Grace Lin interview, too. And someday I want to go to one of your real tea parties, not just the virtual ones. Yum.

    Alkelda, I wanna make a joke about May Pole dancing vs. regular pole dancing here, but I’m gonna try showing a little restraint for once. Congrats on being re-published!

  9. Peter Tork loves cilantro.

  10. Eisha, Thanks! You’ve reminded me now of the Stephen Colbert piece about the woman who’s the “Susan B. Anthony of pole-dancing.”

    Jules: May Faire was indeed fun. Your girls would love it.

    My husband just came home from grocery shopping. He brought home cilantro. And yes, TadMack, it is such a finicky plant. I’ve got some seeds in the front yard, seeds in the back yard, and seeds on the windowsill. Do I have any cilantro growing yet? Do I? Mais non, I do not. And the dill I bought from a nursery is dying. Fortunately, the parsley I planted last year is provind to be a perennial plant. I even halved my crop and gave some to a friend. I grew it from seeds. Go parsley!

  11. Eisha, we only discovered heroes recently as well! Hiro is also my favourite character.

    I’ve only got a vague idea of what cilantro smells/tastes like! I’m very curious know so will check it out at the nursery tomorrow.

    Jules, congrats on the car!

    Jama, that sounds like one nice tea. I’m always impressed with myself if I manage biscuits to go along with tea!

    1. Yesterday we had a very flat tyre, but after bidding a sad farewell in our minds to some money that was supposed to be banked, we found out that the garage could repair the tyre for a very cheap price. Yay!
    2. After dinner last night I remembered that we’d brought back some handmade chocolates from Bruges.
    3. I was about to uproot what I thought were daffodils that had come up far too early (during winter) when I spotted a beautiful iris bud amongst the dying foliage – I had forgotten that was what I had planted! A nice surprise.
    4. This is a mixed kick: annoying work that feels good to get done. I’ve finally had some time this weekend to start work on responding to thesis comments again – there’s not much to actually change so it’s frustrating that I haven’t done it!
    5. The other thing I’ve enjoyed on this weekend at home is sleeping in + naps
    6. It’s a long weekend this weekend! Another day off tomorrow, hurrah!

    Despite number 5, I’m too tired to make it to 7 kicks, but I’ll excuse myself as I had 8 last week.

  12. I forgot to say, cool illustrations yet again! The millionaire looks like a mix between Chrestomanci (in the dressing gown) and Lord Peter Wimsey!

  13. Bonus points to Kali for combining her two names. Very cool.

    Glad that you are all having a fun meet-up!

    Also: I have met one of the people that you mentioned in this post.

    Kicks for the week:
    1) Time flies, time flew
    2) Flattery and appreciation
    3) An invitation I wish I could accept
    4) An invitation I would never accept
    5) An invitation I had to turn down
    6) An invitation I will most likely turn down
    7) Review

  14. The Cilantro Pariah… why does that sound like a book title? “When Eisha confesses to hating the uber-popular girl, Cilantro, her social life wilts. What can she do to revive it? Just add water? It’s never that easy…”

  15. After spending the day in the kitchen, you all (commenters (is that a word?) and hostesses) are cracking me up.

    I am firmly in Eisha’s camp. I make a mean salsa, and use little or no cilantro. I despise it. Really. You won’t find it in my herb garden or my kitchen.

    Hurray for the new car and new books, even if they’re used.

    My kicks this week include:
    1. The big pot of jambalaya I just whipped up.
    2. The homemade bread I baked to go with it.
    3. And the lemon panna cotta we’ll be having for dessert.

    Why all this goodness? Procrastination from grading.

    4. I won a book from Elaine during National Poetry month and it arrived this week. It’s lovely.

    5. I managed a post every day during National Poetry month on a book or books of poetry. It was a LOT of work, but great fun. All total I racked up 63 posts for the month of April.

    6. My Dad had an emergency and went into the hospital Thursday, but he’s better and came home today. He’ll be celebrating his 82nd birthday tomorrow.

    That’s it. Have a great week, all!

  16. Ha! Jama, I want documentation for that claim.

    emmaco, in other parts of the world, cilantro = coriander, if that helps. And I love irises – what a lovely (forgotten) surprise!

    Little Willow, you’re a popular girl this week. Hope you get some invitations you can’t resist someday soon.

    Sara. Now I want to make a joke about Cilantro (the girl) being a “hoe” but that’s really too lame, even for me.

    Tricia, THANK YOU. And I’m so glad your dad’s better, and will be home for his birthday. Also, you are a posting dervish. I’m deeply impressed.

  17. Went to Kali’s site and oved her owl illustrations. She is too much fun.
    Eisha, I love cilantro, send it to Portland. But I was just with a college friend this weekend who hates it.
    Jules, love MC Hammer. It was the first concert we took our girls to.
    My kicks:
    1. I won a book from Elaine, thank you Elaine.
    2. The annual (17th) beach trip with college friends.
    3. Getting cupcakes from Cupcake Jones on behest of Laini’s blog about them, they were dessert on Friday night at the beach.
    4. Found a great little summer dress for half off.
    5. It feels more like spring.
    6. Listening and crying as if I had heard for the first time again, Island of the Blue Dolphins.
    7. Eating dinner tonight outside.
    Have a great week.

  18. Alkelda, I love the parsley moral support: “Go, parsley!” Only you would say that, but that’s one reason I like you so much.

    emmaco, great news about what could have been too costly being not-so-costly (your tires). And sleeping in. What’s that? I vaguely remember it. I’m glad you get to do it AND get a long weekend.

    Okay, Little Willow, ‘fess up: Whom from our post have you met? YOU DIDN’T MEET MC HAMMER! (You have to say that “didn’t” like a valley-girl teen — “diduhnt!!!” Wait, did I just say “valley-girl”? That really dates me).

    Sara, I’ll give you, uh, cilantro to sneak the phrase “cilantro pariah” into your next novel.

    TRICIA, THAT DESSERT LOOKS SO GOOD. For serious, I stared at it all open-mouthed and damn-near drooled. And I love the title of that site.

    And I’m very impressed that you posted daily about poetry in April. I would have loved to have done that. I think I ended up doing, like, three poetry posts. WOOT (insert sarcasm here on that “woot”).

    Jone, what a good week you had. We also ate outside this week — on the brand-spankin’-new swingset the girls have, which includes a picnic bench thingy. I can’t believe I didn’t list that as a kick. They love it so much. And the weather’s been so great.

    And you saw MC Hammer live? Wait, does he sing anything other than U Can’t Touch This?

  19. Ah, coriander! Yum 🙂 I never thought to put it in salsas, mainly just stirfries and curries. I never managed to grow it properly though – like yours it was tempermental and would wilt and recover at whim. And when I finally did grow a good plant it was eaten OVERNIGHT by a bunch of insects. So I threw a tantrum and said we were buying it from then on.

  20. Jules, MC does sing other songs but I can’t remember what they were or sounded like…

  21. Jules: Hammer.

    Eisha: From your mouth to a casting director’s ear…

  22. Little Willow: NO WAY. Did you meet-him meet-him or see him live?

  23. Jules: Met. Customer.

  24. […] we featured last year include Ashley Smith, Chris Eliopoulos (a.k.a. “Elio”), Kali Ciesemier, James Hindle, Maris Wicks, and Lauren Minco. (Eric Orchard goes without saying, as we featured him […]

  25. […] my favorite illustration of all from those student features. This comes from Kali Ciesemier, featured on May 4, 2008, who graduated from the Maryland Institute College of Art just a couple weeks after we featured […]

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