Keith Negley


Keith Negley is a freelance illustrator living in Bellingham Washington. He’s a frequent contributor to The New York Times and New Yorker, as well as many other national magazines and newspapers. His work has appeared on everything from skateboard decks to watches to children’s books and recent accolades include a gold medal from the Society of Illustrators and a Kate Greenaway Medal Nomination for his children’s book Tough Guys Have Feelings Too.

What influence does music have in your life as a creative?:

I’ve played in bands since I was 16 years old, and for a long time I toggled back and forth between pursuing music and pursuing illustration. There is a thrill of expressing myself by creating something out of nothing and releasing it into the world in both mediums and there is a lot of overlap that’s hard to ignore. They both involve layers, textures, arrangement, composition, mood, and variation just to name a few. After years of struggling to make music a viable option I put it on the back burner to focus whole heartedly on my Illustration career. I went back to school and got my MFA from the School of Visual Arts in NYC and things have really taken off for me since. Today music informs what I do as I strive to translate what tracks inspire into my illustration work.

Tell us about your playlist:

This is a collection of tracks that I keep coming back to while I’m working. I use them essentially as lighthouses to guide me with whatever it is I’m working on at that moment. I’m drawn to music that builds over time and carries a lot of somber emotional weight and it’s that subtle but powerful emotion I’m always striving to recreate in my illustrations. I also love variation and juxtapositions of texture and a little bit of chaos/happy accidents in the music I listen to and music that doesn’t sound too “perfect” or over produced. These too are elements I strive for in my work. A lot of my choices are instrumental, and that’s because I like to bring my own meaning to the music when I’m listening and not get caught up deciphering and extracting meaning from someone else’s lyrics. 

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  1. Echos of Mine – M83
  2. The Lisbon Maru – Fuck Buttons
  3. Trembling Hands – Explosions In The Sky
  4. Machine Gun – Portishead
  5. Digital Versicolor – Glass Candy
  6. Mono – Beak>
  7. Extra Life – Zombie Zombie
  8. The Rip – Portishead
  9. Stuck Together Remix – Other Side
  10. Poem Of Dead Song – Broadcast
  11. When We Fall – <Kaeb