Do What You Love: This Illustrator and Sci-Fi Author Shares His Secret to Workflow Productivity

Maker Spotlight: Jim Keen

Tell us a bit about yourself.

I’m a British guy living in Brooklyn. I write Sci-Fi novels (the Cortex Series is coming out later this year) and produce design illustrations for architects and creative companies.

How did you get started doing illustration?

For 22 years I was an architect working in New York, London, and Sydney. I always drew as part of the job, but as computer renderings have increasingly lost their ability to communicate ideas I started to draw for clients as an evening job. That went so well that I now do it full-time.

What's a typical work day for you? 

I have two children, 6 and 8, so it varies but typically I get up early (at 5am) and work for a while before they get up. I drop them at school, go to the gym, then work through the afternoon until I pick them up. Depending on how tight the deadline, I may work later on after they go to bed. 


We first noticed you on Instagram when you posted your Luna setup. Why did you choose Luna Display?

I work long hours on an iMac. Luna enables me to get away and work remotely. It also allows me to use MacOS apps (Photoshop and Scrivener) on an iPad. Yeah, I know Scrivener has an iOS version :) I use it, but there are functions I need only the Mac version has.

Walk us through your workspace and setup.

I have a small office that I keep sparse. When I’m in there it’s to work so I keep distractions to a minimum. I have a 2018 5k iMac at a standing desk. I also use a 12.9” iPad Pro for illustrations and writing on the go.

How do you stay productive?

When you love what you do, it’s easy. It’s harder to not do it than do it.

What apps/tools do you use to manage your workflow?

For illustration: Morpholio Trace and Procreate on a 12.7” iPad Pro / Photoshop on an iMac. For writing: Scrivener and ProWritingAid.

What inspires your creativity?

As mundane as it sounds going for long walks by myself with no phone. A complete withdrawal allows the time and space to daydream; once I’m in that zone and my subconscious is churning, anything can happen.

What’s the best part of doing what you do?

For illustration - working with great clients and helping them make a successful pitch. For writing - creating for myself and having no one to answer to.

What’s the hardest thing about your work?

The demands I place upon myself. You learn with everything you do, so after each project It’s easy to end up just seeing the mistakes. It takes time to return and see the work for itself.

What podcasts are you currently listening to?

Liverpool FC are the greatest football club in the world so anything to do with them; The Anfield Wrap is a good one. I’ve also just found The Dropout which covers the Theranos scandal. So far, it's fantastic.

If you had to describe yourself as an emoji, which would you be and why?

The robot 🤖. Since we’re living in a computer simulation, it seems appropriate :)

And finally, what Instagram account would you recommend people check out?

There are really so many good accounts out there its hard to say! But, one I really like is @sparth. He’s an art director at Halo. Amazing stuff.

Follow @jimkeen on Instagram and check out his portfolio


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