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Graphic Artist and Designer Emily Kalina: Building a Robust Career as a Digital Artist


Technology is providing myriad new opportunities for people to do the things they love. In the case of graphic artist and painter Emily Kalina, technology has allowed her to overcome a debilitating health condition and pursue her dream of becoming an artist. “The past few years of technological innovation have changed my life. With the accessibility of digital art and print-on-demand, I’ve been able to achieve far beyond my physical limitations and build a successful career,” she explains. 

Kalina Leverages the Adaptability of Digital Art

As a working artist living with Epilepsy, Kalina has had to adapt her approach in a number of ways. Early in her artistic career, she was forced to find ways to meet exhausting demands. Now, she has found an approach that affords her the flexibility she needs to be creative when she can.

Just as a painter uses a paintbrush on canvas, Kalina creates paintings digitally using an Apple Pencil on an iPad Pro. This method maintains the authenticity of the artistic process while providing more flexibility than traditional methods. It also allows her to upload, print, design custom products, and sell her work directly from the digital artwork she creates. This allows her to create affordable work that anyone can enjoy. In short, technology affords Kalina more control over the commercialization of her art than previously possible.

Kalina’s Career Journey

Kalina’s work as an artist has undergone many different iterations. For the first fourteen years of her career, she painted solely with watercolors while teaching part-time at a variety of private institutions. She considers herself especially fortunate to have studied under (and served as a Teaching Assistant for) renowned watercolorist Thomas Sgouros while she attended Rhode Island School of Design (RISD) during one of the most difficult periods of her life.

After a brief pause to reevaluate the direction of her work, Kalina rediscovered her passion for making affordable art that everyone can enjoy – not just the wealthy elite. According to Kalina, her new technological medium (painting on a digital surface with a stylus) has allowed her to make art that is affordable, accessible, and adaptable to different products.

Though Kalina initially took charge of every aspect of the business from marketing to order fulfillment, the advent of dropshipping and print-on-demand services have enabled her even greater flexibility, allowing her to take a step back and let technology do some of the hard work for her. “I didn’t want to outsource some of those essential functions because I was sailing through uncharted waters, and any missteps or a lack of oversight could have sunk the whole ship,” she explains. “However, with these new services and technologies, I don’t have to worry about that. Those parts of the business almost take care of themselves.”

Adapting and Overcoming

Kalina isn’t exactly sure where the business is headed, but she feels optimistic for the future. “It’s just so fulfilling to see how happy my work makes people. It reminds you why you do it, what all the struggles and uncertainty are for. It’s all to make people happy, to give them something they can’t get anywhere else.” Over the next few years, she intends to focus on living in the now and seeing where her art takes her. Whatever the future brings, Kalina will be ready to adapt and overcome.

Learn more about Emily Kalina, view her work, and shop her prints and products at https://emilykalina.com/