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.

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.

The "Zootopian" Vision

Just saw Zootopia- and was floored. As the story unfolded, I realized that a very strong message was being delivered, of racial stereotypes and inequality. Of fear mongering against certain classes of people. Of a government that pushes fear tactics to forward its own agenda. Of a "Zootopian" vision of everyone coexisting in harmony. So much resonated with the current political climate and social issues we're facing in these times, all wrapped up in a children's movie.

This is the power of storytelling, and communicating with art. Anything is possible. It allows you to put forth issues that are complex and hard to talk about in inventive and creative ways. This is why I find so much meaning and passion in what I do. The Zootopia plot is simple- a bunny rabbit moves to the big city and fights for what she wants against all odds of what she's been typecast- and in turn learns of acceptance. The freedom of animation allows for so much more- it can send powerful messaging through metaphors, subtleties, pop culture references, fantastical scenarios, and characters that are delightful, approachable, and easily digestible. Pixar films have always been well known for being sophisticated- but Zootopia just took it to another level.

I'm excited, and optimistic about what studios like Pixar/ Disney have tapped into. I grew up with the very one-dimensional recycled Disney stories of true love and romance- kids these days will be watching films like Zootopia, and learn something very real about the world in a way they can easily understand. When these kinds of stories resonate with the impressionable nature of childhood, we invest in future generations that will grow up to change the world for the better.

Go see Zootopia- the visuals are stunning, you'll be laughing for most of it, and you just might come out with a new perspective.