Hacks, hobbies, and side hustles: Illustration

Nitzan Klamer on everyday creativity

A six-frame photographic composite of sticker art. Clockwise from top left: 1. two people kissing 2. panda, horse, chicken, lion 3. a person in a tie and blazer 4. a hand giving the OK sign and the caption UXellent! 5. a person with a butterfly head 6. a person with four eyes and holding a balloon in each hand.

Illustration (and photography) by Nitzan Klamer

Hacks, Hobbies, and Side Hustles is a for-fun internal presentation series that began as a one-time event and fast became a popular way for us to get to know our talented colleagues. It has only two guidelines: finish in five minutes and focus on a passion that exists outside of Adobe. Learn where creativity takes the members of Adobe Design when they’re not working.

I'm a UX designer on the commerce team. I grew up in Israel but moved to the U.S. four years ago and live in Austin, Texas with my wife, two children, and dog.

Illustration is one of my favorite things to do.

I've always been better at visual communications as opposed to written and from about the first grade on, my notebooks always had more doodles than words, which sometimes got me into trouble at school. I eventually got a B.A. in visual communication from the Bezalel, Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem, Israel where I was very fortunate to learn from some of my favorite artists and illustrators.

A closed laptop covered with multiple stickers.
My laptop today.

My drawing style consists of bold black lines that make even small things clear, and I usually work with a maximum of four to five colors, which works out well if I do a screen print of the design later. Stickers are my favorite medium. Not only is there something instant and accessible about them but they're cheap and easy to produce, and since they work best when they're understandable at a quick glance, it's a medium that suits the style of my art.

When I'm not working on stickers I draw with cheap markers. Not only do my children give me some of my best drawing prompts, but my seven-year-old daughter also loves to draw, and she often leaves her markers and papers on the kitchen table. So a lot of mornings while having coffee I'll use her markers to draw tributes to cereal boxes or other everyday things that happen to be in my line of sight, like bananas. But I also collaborate with her (initially without her permission) on what she's left behind, which eventually results in something of a quiet conversation between us.

A children's drawing of a princess riding a giant lizard, as it's drinking from a cup held by a boy, in a garden of cactus and mushrooms.
This princess-cowgirl riding a lizard was drawn in collaboration with my daughter.
Eight illustrations of bananas personified. Clockwise from top left: 1. waterskiing 2. reclined and smoking 3. on all fours looking skyward 4. reclined and drinking a martini 5. seated looking at a phone 6. standing with an "idea" finger in the air 7. sleeping 8. fishing.
Banana art.

I love sketching and doodling as a meditative exercise, so most of that takes place in a sketchbook where I can create pages dense with random characters (I love the unexpected things that result from the negative space). Later on, though, I'll choose the drawings I love, move them to my iPad, and finish them there in the detail they deserve.

At one time I did take on commissions, but I really enjoy setting my own guardrails and having the freedom to create whatever I want without a brief. Every now and then, though, I get a chance to do illustrations as part of my work at Adobe.

An illustration composed of multiple quick sketches and the words Hackathon Snackathon Austin Barcelona December 2019 alongside three stacked photographs of the art on a sticker, a coffee mug, and a T-shirt.
December 2019 Austin Barcelona Hackathon/Snackathon. The events took place in Austin and Barcelona, so I included Easter Eggs for those locations.
Three stickers arranged on a whiteboard. Clockwise from top left: 1. a hand giving the OK sign and the caption UXellent! 2. A clock and the caption Thank you for your time 3. a dog with sunglasses and the caption UXtraordinary 4. a cat giving a thumbs up and the caption UXpert.
A sticker pack, of UX puns that I gave out as a "thank you" when I was testing mockups in the office.

Being at home so much over the last couple of years has inspired some commentaries on working from home and getting things done around the house. And it seems to be aligning well with an increased interest in incorporating text into my illustration; I’m focusing more on concepts in my work and text adds dimension to my message, and I love playing around with typography.

An illustration of a cat sitting on a laptop keyboard with the caption Work from Home.
Anyone working from home with a cat can relate to this one.
An illustration titled Weekend Plans with a man performing various tasks. Top left to right: 1. Do the art  2. Enjoy the sunset 3. Clean the house. Middle left to right: 4. Listen the music 5. Hang the shelves. Bottom left to right: 6. Make the salad 7. Talk the phone 8. Read the book.
Previous lists include “Small talk topics," “Things to do when you're bored," and “How to be successful."

Eventually I upload most of my work to my Instagram but when I started printing T-shirts and prints for fun, and people started asking me where they could buy them, I also opened an online shop because I love seeing my art enjoyed by others.