by Kirk Wallace
Kirk Wallace, BoneHaüs | Freelance Illustrator & Graphic Designer, Boston Massachusetts
Cmrcl. Illustration / Design studio of Kirk! Wallace & Sküllboy


As an illustrator and graphic designer, I'm able to do what I love for a living. That doesn't mean I'm content, satisfied, or even happy with a lot of what I do. I am creating this blog to share some insight that hopefully both you and I can learn from about my experiences in the world of designing for a financial and emotional living.

Shitty Sketches

Starting with basic blocks & colors help define where you want the eyes focusing

The past few months I've felt like a social butterfly and it's really caught me off guard how much I've enjoyed it. The Boston area design community has been overwhelmingly fun to get to know and talk to.

Interestingly, when I get a chance to chat a bit, a lot of peers are interested in how I got where I am today (not far if you ask me) so quickly. Now that I've given the answer a few times and had enough opportunity to speak openly with friends and designers alike, I thought I'd write it down for myself and hopefully anyone that reads it.

So I started pushing hard on design and illustration maybe 2.5 - 3 years ago. I figured out what it was I wanted to do, and was relieved. Like a lot of you know, I graduated with a computer science degree and about a year after finishing realized my favorite part of development was basically the front-end design. I ditched that idea and plunged in head first.

At this point, I had rarely worked digitally with art. I never ever thought I'd create something worthy of someone liking, never mind being able to make a living doing it.

I owe it all to shitty sketches.

These are some early ideas for the facebook and linkedin illustrations

Seriously. That, and seeing other people's rough, shitty sketches. Paper, marker, pencil, pens whatever. It's extremely important to remember that everything that gets done, goes through a rough stage where we're boxing out ideas. Size, proportion, shape, curves, motion. All that needs to be blocked out before you go too far.

Improve on every sketch and keep improving until you're at a point where anything else would be totally nitpicking. That's when it's ready to go to the next step and for me, thats into Adobe Illustrator.

Working digitally especially for the second sketch (better shitty sketches) is helpful

I believe with art, a lot of people are tricked to believe you either have it or you don't. That's offensive to people that may not 'naturally' have it, like myself but have taken years of drawing horrible things to get to a point where we can draw something more confidently and complete.

Don't be discouraged if you can't just start drawing your favorite cartoon characters from memory. Don't be ashamed to use things for reference. Eventually you'll get better at remembering these things, having a library of references in your brain, but you'll get nowhere without admitting that it's going to suck first.

The creatives that weren't afraid to show process and human error are who I am so thankful for. Seeing small case studies and write-ups of how something got to it's final stage has made me less intimidated to start. 

Anyway I wanted to share some shit sketches, better sketches, and final pieces of a few illustrations I did last week. In part because I think they came out great, just what I was aiming for, and the other part, to hopefully inspire people to remember to start small and work towards something.