Bringing Together Drawing and Design | Mingei International Museum

Meet Kiana Henderson, guest illustrator for the spring edition of Mingei's member journal, Communiqué. Kiana is a Black, self-taught illustrator with a degree in graphic design from San Diego State University. She is a multi-talented creative, specializing in illustration along with character, stationery, and apparel design; social media marketing; typography, and packaging design.

Typically, graphic designers don't illustrate their own design work, but doing both seems to be your strength! What drew you to graphic design and illustration? Do you prefer one over the other? Or do you see both working together?

My love of playing video games inspired me to become an illustrator, while my love for the arts as a whole inspired me to go into graphic design. Buying video game art books or seeing a character I like on the covers, introduced me to a variety of artistic styles growing up. I've been drawing ever since I was a young kid, so I have a deep love for illustration, but today both graphic design and illustration play a role in how my work comes together. Figuring out how different illustration techniques and design styles work in harmony has helped me grow as both an illustrator and designer.

Walk us through your creative process. Where do you begin? How do you know when you’re done?

For me, it varies on the project. My most basic process begins by developing mood boards for inspiration and sketching concepts on my iPad to help lay out the foundation and research for the intended project. If it’s a project I’m 100% confident with I just dive right into designing. It’s hard to explain, but once I have a concept I know what to do right away and there’s no looking back. That process just works for me. Especially when it comes to illustration—I just go!

I saw that you’ve worked with a few different organizations, like CRATE Agency and Yen, but do you also have projects of your own that you’re working on?

Yes, I do! I’m super excited to share that I am creating my own clothing line called CaliQT. It is currently still under wraps, but I am aiming to launch my brand around June. If you like cats and anime-styled art, definitely take a look once it launches.

What are your inspirations?

My dear mother has been my biggest cheerleader when it came to all my creative endeavors! She was the type of mom to show ANY art I’ve drawn. She would even show it to complete strangers if she had the chance. She always encouraged me and helped me stay on track to become the creative that I am today.

Is there anything you want to share about yourself, your work, or your collaboration with Mingei that I didn't ask about?

I’m unbelievably excited and honored to have had an opportunity to draw an illustration for Mingei! It was a lovely experience to develop the Communiqué layout illustration. I hope everyone enjoys it!

Make sure to check out Kiana on Twitter, Instagram, and her website,

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