Interview with an Artist: Halsey Mollhagen

iusa_400x400.36296226_s33wMeet Halsey Mollhagen, the extraordinary illustrator from Grand Rapids, Michigan. You can view her work here: website, and buy some of her gorgeous pieces of art at her shop here: etsy shop

And now, journey inside the world of Halsey:


What are you currently working on?

A commissioned piece that is an acrylic painting of a roaring lion.


When did you first know you wanted to be an artist?

I grew up in a creative family, and always enjoyed the arts, but it wasn’t until my 20’s that I had an “aha” moment. I didn’t attend college right after high school but was involved with a church internship/discipleship program for 3 years. When it was time to make a transition, I prayed about what career I should pursue because I didn’t know what to do. When I prayed, I felt like I heard the word “Illustrator,” so after spending a couple of years at a community college, I moved to Grand Rapids, MI and attended Kendall College of Art and Design (KCAD). I would have always considered myself an artist, but that was a defining moment for pursuing it as a career.


What are your near and future goals for your art?

A near goal would be to continue growing a steady freelance business. A future goal would be to write and illustrate children’s books with my husband (but hopefully this will happen sooner rather than later!)


What other types of art or artists inspire you? Any specific examples?

I’m inspired by quirky, stylized, down-to-earth art. I enjoy art that has some humor with it as well. A couple of artists who I really like are Lane Smith and Oliver Jeffers. I also really admire Rebecca Green, a phenomenal artist who also attended KCAD. (Check out her work at


How do you usually get past creativity blocks?

When I’m feeling stuck, I’ll usually just start drawing or painting the first thing that comes to mind and once I get going, inspiration will often kick in.


What does your creative process look like?

  1. Research – I’ll look up images or information that is pertinent to the project. I recently was commissioned to do a drawing of a historical home. Before starting the drawing, I read about some of the history of that home as well as different photos of the house as it changed throughout the years.
  2. Set up my environment – this often includes cleaning the room that I’m in to remove distractions.
  3. This sort of goes along with #2, but I will usually put on a movie if I will be working on a project that will take awhile. Lord of the Rings has come in handy for this.
  4. Last but not least, the creative process often involves eating ice cream at some point during the project. 🙂


What is your favorite part of starting a new piece of art?

Not knowing how the piece will turn out, which is somewhat scary but also exciting, because I’m usually pleasantly surprised at how much I like it once it’s finished.


What is your favorite part of having a finished product?

I’m a checklist type of person, so I find a huge amount of satisfaction knowing that something has been completed. Also, most pieces have some sort of challenge. It’s very rewarding when I’m able to overcome the challenges and gain new knowledge and strategies for future projects.


What is your favorite medium?

I enjoy various mediums, but I really like using Prismacolor pencils and watercolors.


What nugget of advice can you give to beginning/aspiring artists?

If you don’t like your style (which I’ve struggled with), it’s okay to allow yourself to be influenced by other artists you admire, just be careful not to steal. 🙂


How do you balance home life/other responsibilities with your “creative time?”

Great question. Still working on that one. I’m working part-time, I have an almost 2 year old son and I’m 7 months pregnant. Recently “creative time” has been commissioned art or submitting concepts for commissions – I’ve been working on these during nap times and after my son goes to bed at night. My husband also will watch him for a few hours if I need focused time.


What would your superpower be and why?

To be able to speak every language. I’d love to be able to communicate with anyone. (Every language would also include knowing what animals are saying too).

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