Freelance poster artist a presence in Aggieville

By Bethany Knipp

Anyone exploring Manhattan’s local music scene might have noticed the whimsical work of Keegan Hudspeth hanging in several Aggieville store windows.

Hudspeth, 27, is a freelance poster artist who currently creates material for Aggie Central Station.

He also designed the art for Aggiefest 2013 – Aggieville’s two-day local music extravaganza – that entertained crowds last September.

A native of El Dorado, Hudspeth is an illustrator with big ideas about how to work creatively. He studied at the Kansas City Art Institute and later graduated from Kansas State University with a major in sociology.

Hudspeth said whenever he gets commissioned to do a poster for an upcoming music show, he can turn a seemingly laborious process into something fun.

“I’ll listen to the band’s music if I can find it on the Internet, and whatever I associate with what I hear when I listen to the music, I’ll put on the poster,” he said.

Hudspeth said he enjoys illustrating fantasy art, employing mystical-looking characters in some of his work. He said he would eventually love to work in the videogame industry as a concept designer or art director.

“I’m trying to mine my own past to tap into the creative impulse of my younger self,” he said.

Hudspeth said he started drawing when he was very young, and discovered he was good at it.

“My mother was something of an artist, and she encouraged me and tried to help me as best she could,” he said.

When he graduated high school in 2004, Hudspeth decided to pursue art.

“I really couldn’t think of anything else that I wanted to do more than that,” he said.

He enrolled in Kansas City’s art school, where he stayed for two and a half years learning fine arts skills before eventually coming to Manhattan.

Hudspeth said being an artist in a smaller community can be challenging – and that it actually can be too comfortable.

Being too comfortable doesn’t sit well with Hudspeth, who also does graphic design work for the sportswear apparel company It’s Greek to Me.

“I don’t think any good art comes from comfort. You have to be challenged, you have to suffer, you have to struggle. Struggling is the name of the game, and to be complacent is to cheat yourself,” he said.

One challenge Hudspeth said he and other artists face is constantly changing technology. He produces some of his work digitally, using computers.

That’s an area where he didn’t have to stay current when he first started illustrating, but now times have changed.

“Digital has a pitfall in that it’s very fast,” he said. “That’s great when you’re trying to make deadlines. It’s great when you know what you’re doing, but when you’re finding out how to do that, that can be a big problem,” he said.

The changes are also exciting for Hudspeth, though, especially given the expansion of the Internet’s capabilities since he began drawing.

“That’s the huge advantage to this movement, this technological era. You can literally have nothing and put it out on the Internet and promote it and make it into something. It’s magic, kind of,” he said.

“I think it’s enabling me to create in a way that was never possible in any time period before – and who knows what will come next? I’m very excited.”

And for artists starting off now in the heyday of possibilities, Hudspeth has some advice:

“If I had known in 2004 – as the Internet got bigger and better – that I could look up tutorials on any kind of art I wanted to learn, I would have never gone to any schools,” he said.

“Go to a place where you think there’s going to be a very lively creative atmosphere and make friends. And in the haven of that community you create, use that to drive your creative impulse in the right direction.”

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