Adam J. Kurtz (aka @adamjk) is an artist and author whose illustrative work is rooted in honesty, humor and a little darkness. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages and his “very personal” work for clients like Strand Bookstore and Urban Outfitters has been featured in the New Yorker, VICE, Adweek and more.
What are you best known for?
My most recent book, Things Are What You Make of Them, is a handwritten collection of essays on the realities of being a working creative (as a career or as a hobby) and all the emotional elements that come into play. It's been out for eight months now and I'm so excited about the reception it's received.
What or who has influenced your design aesthetic the most?
I'm very inspired by bold statements and a clearly human touch. Writer-artist hybrids like Barbara Kruger and Jenny Holzer are influences, as well as more contemporary creators like Debbie Millman, Hallie Bateman, Kate Bingaman-Burt, Kate Moross, and other artists who bake humanity directly into their work.
What inspired you to become a designer?
Creating something from nothing has always been my way to make the things I want to see, own, or hold. More recently, translating emotions into work has been a way to let them go, or create spaces for others to grow through their own insecurity or fear to be better versions of themselves. I've shifted from a more traditional graphic designer into an artist – someone who feels things and then makes something that evokes that emotion in others.