Cutting Loose: The Design Trend of Now

2017 Holiday campaign for Starbucks, created by Buck.TV

When I first started out as a designer at a design agency a few years ago, everyone seemed to be designing in a minimal style. It was all about vast white spaces, rigid character proportions, shades of grey and blue…line iconography. As someone with an traditional illustration background, I found this so fresh. Minimalist design has a calming, orderly sentiment to it. This new perspective fed into my illustrative style as well. Why bother with face expressions…or color..or texture? However, over the years design sensibilities has shifted into something quite different.

Facebooks new illustration style, “Alegria” Created by

Design and illustration these days is so bold and expressive, jumping off the page in a racket of color. We’re embracing the hand crafted qualities of screen printing and collage. We’re going to town with textures and patterns. What was it about 2014 that had us zenning out over white space, and 2018 is full of colorful chaos?

Spotify Campaign, created by Cecile Gariepy

It could be a reflection of the times we’re living in. After all, the ground beneath us is shaking. We are living in a violent sphere of sensory overload- of hashtag movements taking to the streets, of a president spouting lies and hatred, of fake news, corruption, and divisive ideologies. So why are we running to the Color Factory, and the Museum of Ice cream to take a selfie for instagram in front of endless sprinkles and vibrant walls? And why are we more obsessed with unicorns than ever before?? Why is design reaching full boost mode on the delight and playfulness factor in troubling times?

Left to right: Chloe Bennet, Richard Chance, and Franziska Barczyk for R29 X WOMENS MARCH

Perhaps it might have to do with the fact that design and illustration evokes an emotional response. We have gone the way of collective escapism through maximalist design, seeking refuge in the things that make us happy. On the surface this might look like a pretty shallow way of dealing with things, an unnecessary distraction. Better to look at a wall of white space and contemplate- as if you’re in time out. This couldn’t be further from the truth! Through design and illustration we are channeling empowerment. We are celebrating diversity, and the things that bring us together. We are using humour and expression to communicate uncomfortable truths. We are using visual communication to heal and unify. While we can’t change the things around us that out of our grasp, we can take our pens and visualize the world we want- and ultimately create it.

Illustration by Marylou Faure

Going Independent!

I am firing up Krystal Lauk Studios and now taking on illustration and art direction projects full time!

For most of us, the new year signifies a renewal of ourselves- to step back and evaluate how we can be our best selves. I’m excited to have this opportunity to start the year off with a blank slate, open to new possibilities and experiences with the aim to delight and inspire through illustration!

Being at Google for the past year and half was incredible, working to elevate the experience of the largest media marketplace on the Play UX team. There, I helped provide art direction to a team of inspiring, talented illustrators as a lead. I worked closely with product and marketing stakeholders to create delightful bespoke imagery for the Play store, and its verticals on a global scale. Through concepting and implementing compelling visuals for campaigns and products with such a huge global reach, I gained an understanding of our common human values through many different lens.

So with my past experience and successes behind me, I am setting out with an entrepreneurial spirit, whether it be communicating complex concepts and ideas to gain better understanding and motivate deeper thought, or creating beautiful, branded visuals that inspire a market demographic to engage with a product. Let’s talk about how illustration can be a powerful and effective tool for you.

Academy of Art Talk

I spoke to Illustration students at my Alma Mater, Academy of Art, about illustrating for the tech industry and DIYing it as an independent illustrator.

Ignite Talk

My first public talk on the importance of illustration in technology is now available on YouTube! Thanks Ignite SF for bringing me on as a speaker!

Turning a New Page in the Sketchbook


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.

Featured in the No.12 3×3 Illustration Annual!

I just received my copy of the No.12 3×3 Illustration Annual- it's a gorgeous, hefty little book with pages upon pages of amazing work!

I'm honoured to have three of my illustrations featured among some pretty talented artists- the pieces featured are Kafka on the Shore, Fall in New York, and Egg Freezing as a Job Benefit. Big thanks and kudos to Charles Hively and 3×3 mag.

Miyazaki Spirit Tribute Show Aftermath

This weekend was the opening show of the Miyazaki Spirit Tribute show, a special curation by the Time Beards, Craig Drake and Luke Harrington. The RSVP on the Facebook events page for the show had reached 6.4k attendees- it was quite the viral phenomenon, but was certainly a test of how that number would translate on opening day.

Opening day came and it was dumping rain- people were lined up stretching 2 whole blocks 0n the streets of Soma to get into Sketchpad gallery. It was such a humbling experience to see the excitement and support!! It was wonderful to meet the fans, hang out with the amazing artists I showed with, and soak up the Miyazaki spirit!

The show also got a beautiful write up in The Verge, where they featured my work and included in the cover art.

Tribute to Miyazaki!


A sneak peak at my final work was featured in Gizmodo, SFStation, and SF FunCheap! I will be showing work among an amazingly talented group of artists at the Miyazaki Tribute show this Saturday at Sketchpad Gallery! This is an event that cannot be missed if you're in the Bay Area- and your only chance to grab a limited edition print of the artwork I've created just for the show!

For more information be sure to follow the Facebook event page– we look forward to seeing all 5.9K of you!