It can be hard for emerging artists to stand out in a society trained to ignore the bombardment of stimuli we are subjected to daily. However, Kylee Firlit, a junior in graphic design and Hispanic studies at MSU, has found a way to do just that through new, creative mediums. Although she is often working on class projects or brewing your morning mug at International Coffee Traders, Firlit occupies much of her time designing stickers, posters and hat pins for her favorite bands.
Whether you have realized it or not, you’ve undoubtedly seen Firlit’s work smothering the bulletin boards on campus and promoting local bands like The Kitchen Dwellers. What started as merely helping promote a friend’s band quickly gained momentum when she entered a design contest for The String Cheese Incident’s 2012 summer tour. Although her two submissions weren’t chosen, they certainly didn’t go unnoticed.
“My friend Sam saw my elephant design, he wanted to turn it into a pin and things just snowballed from there,” Firlit explained. The scruffiest entrepreneur imaginable, Sam Littlehale, now had the first product offered by his newly founded company, Sales and Shenanigans. After an enormously successful summer selling the initial batch of pins on the road, the two teamed up for more projects. Firlit has since designed four pins for the company, earning her the title “Head of Art Shenanigans.”
If this company sounds slightly ridiculous to you, that’s because it is. The Lorax is featured on another of Firlit’s pins and Dr. Seuss ideology governs their business practices. “We’re serious about silliness,” Littlehale chuckles.
The entanglement of bright colors and intricate lines that characterize Firlit’s pieces are a style she has coined “psychedelic surrealism.” She mostly utilizes pens and markers, but has been known to dabble with acrylic and oil paints too. Firlit plans to continue making pins, but is also excited to work on more big projects soon, not restricted to such a small canvas.
Although she strives to never take herself too seriously, Firlit is still churning out popular pins that can be spotted everywhere; she says that “the best thing about designing pins is seeing people all across the country wearing my art.” Most of Firlit’s pins are available for purchase at sales-and-shenanigans.com and she is always open to collaborating with new artists.