Illustrating Santa Monica & Venice Beach culture

Illustrating my home town

I was born and raised in Santa Monica California surrounded by the relaxed beach culture. After returning from my travels in Mexico and South America I realized how unique the lifestyle was. So I started sketching and creating illustrations of my old neighborhood.

Illustration by Joseph Kiely of a Californian crossing a typical West Los Angeles street
Pico Boulevard

Illustrating the diverse locals

The locals are a diverse group from the skaters and hipsters to the ever-present homeless that make the beaches their home. I played around with a couple different illustration styles to depict these different personalities.

Solid color comic book style

For the skaters and hipsters I used a comic book style with a restrained color palette of red-orange, blue grays and yellow with an overlaid texture. I liked the graphic impact of the unexpected color combinations.

Rough sketch book style

For the homeless and street musicians I played with a much looser sketch style. Using water color splatter backgrounds and roughly sketched line work on top to define the subject.

The illustration tools

For the illustrations I used a combination of photographic reference, scanned in textures and the Procreate App to combine everything together. I then added additional texture and line work on top – it is very similar to the process I used on my Oaxaca Sketches.

The combination of the organic with the digital makes for a flexible and fun process since you can always undo a mistake!

Always a Californian

No matter how many countries or cities I have lived in there are things from California that I have a hard time leaving behind. Two of them are my hoodies and my Converse or Vans – I guess they just make me feel comfortable and remind me of home.

Joseph Kiely illustration of a Los Angeles Marijuana Dispensary
Head Shop