Artist Profile: Jenn Kitagawa - Toronto


Hi Jenn! Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m Jenn Kitagawa and I’m a freelance illustrator and artist. I grew up in Alberta, Canada and now live and work in Toronto, Canada. I spend most of my days working in my studio drawing, sewing or painting. In my free time I play music in a few bands, bike ride around the city or drink in parks with friends.

What is your background (i.e. education, previous jobs, experiences that led you to create)?
My first 3 years of post-secondary were spent studying design and illustration at Grant MacEwan University. From there I transferred to ACAD (The Alberta College of Art & Design) where I focused on editorial design and branding, and received my Bachelors of Design. Shortly after graduating I moved to New York and interned for Nylon Magazine and artist Mike Perry. 

After a few months in New York, I ended up moving to Toronto and landed my first full time design job at a small design studio called Premise. I was so excited and grateful for this first opportunity in the industry! Then about a year and a half at Premise, I decided to go freelance but was offered an interview for the lead graphic design position at the record label Arts & Crafts, and I got the job.

Nowadays, I work for myself creating images, gifs, patterns and pretty much anything fun that comes my way for various clients.


When did you start creating artwork and what inspires your designs?
I’ve always been actively making things since I was very young. It started with drawing, painting and sewing, and I guess not much has changed since then. Currently what inspires me is really great combinations of colour seen in textiles and paintings. Also taking time away from my computer and going outside really helps clear my mind and allows room for creative thinking.

What does your process of creating look like? Is there something specific you do every time?
My creative process usually begins with researching keys words and reading about the subject matter. Sketching out ideas on paper and then digitizing the sketches so I can experiment with different colour palettes, scale and composition. My process isn’t always the same but there is definitely always some amount of sketching even if it’s just to capture an idea so I don’t forget about it.


At The Glossary, we believe in women working together and helping one another. Why do you think it is important for women to support each other?
The support of other women is empowering! Knowing that I am a part of a community of creative women is really special. I’m a part of several online all women creative groups and there is a lot you can learn from engaging and reading about other people’s experiences. If I’m unsure about something I know I can ask for advice and someone will help. 

And if I could just give a shout out and show some support to my female friends who inspire me, here we go: Louise Reimer (illustrator/artist), Chelsee Ivan (photographer), Katie Jensen (audio producer/musician) and Leslie Predy (musician/gif maker)! Seeing the creative projects that they get involved in motivates me to keep going!


What are you trying to learn right now or what is something that you are wanting to learn?
I have a trip planned to Berlin in the fall so for the past few months I’ve been teaching myself German. It’s not the easiest language to learn but it’s much simpler than learning the Japanese alphabet Hiragana.

What are some of your favorite places in Toronto?
Taco el Asador for tacos, obviously. Christie Pits for park hangs or watching a baseball game. Northwoods for cocktails. Fiesta Farms for fresh produce and other healthy treats. Sam James Coffee to visit my friends and eat the vegan treats (I don’t drink coffee though!). Value Village for all the hidden gem clothing finds. And playing/seeing live music at my friends’ house.

Photo by  Chelsee Ivan

Photo by Chelsee Ivan

Find Jenn at: