Inspired by nature. Influenced by minimalism.

Kim Knoll portrait
Kim Knoll's studio

About The Work

I love living in the city of Chicago, but I often crave spending time outside exploring lakes, mountains, forests, and coastlines through hiking and camping. These experiences have become the inspiration behind my work, in essence, to bring the outdoors into modern spaces and urban environments. Working with a variety of mediums including acrylic, watercolor, ink, graphite, spray paint or charcoal, and a refined color palette, I think of shapes, movements, and textures found in nature to inform and guide each painting. I bring positive feelings into my art, pulling from joyful memories or a peaceful mood. I hope my art brings that same joy and peace to others while offering a momentary escape from the everyday.

About Kim Knoll

Kim Knoll is a contemporary artist with a BFA in Visual Communications. She developed her painting style through 19 years of professional experience as a graphic designer. Within one year of pursuing painting as a personal endeavor, Kim's work gained recognition from collectors, art consultants, and interior designers, eventually allowing her to switch her focus to painting full-time. Today, Kim produces original paintings and prints for luxury homes and brands worldwide like The Ritz-Carlton Hotels and Yacht Collection, Four Seasons Hotels, Waldorf Astoria Hotels, CB2 and Crate & Barrel. Her work has been featured in Chicago Magazine, Style By Emily Henderson, and Women United Art Magazine.

Kim also co-founded Knoed, a branding and graphic design studio that helped more than 55 businesses and startups in need of creative strategy, visual identity, print and digital design from 2011-2022. During this time, Kim was also the Organizer + Host of the CreativeMornings Chicago chapter from 2012-2016, volunteering her time to produce 48 events for Chicago's creative community.

Kim Knoll Art

Solo Exhibitions
• 2019, Jun 26-Sep 3, Neighborly, Chicago, IL
• 2018, Nov 16-18, The Martin, Chicago, IL

Group Exhibitions
• 2023, Jun 23-Jul 28, The Martin, Chicago, IL
• 2018, Aug 28-Oct 19, NIU Art Museum, DeKalb, IL

Select Commissions
• 2024, Crate & Barrel, Spring Collection
• 2023, Regent Seven Seas, Grandeur Cruise Ship
• 2023, JW Marriott Essex House, NYC
• 2023, CB2, Spring/Summer Collection
• 2022, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, Evrima Yacht
• 2022, P&O Cruises, Arvia Cruise Ship
• 2022, CB2, Fall/Winter Collection
• 2021, Norwegian Cruise Line, Prima Cruise Ship
• 2021, Bank of America Tower, 110 N Wacker
• 2020, The Ritz-Carlton Yacht Collection, Evrima Yacht
• 2019, 7 For All Mankind, Milan Flagship Store
• 2018, Chronicle Books, The Spells Deck

Select Features
• The Ritz-Carlton Evrima Yacht
• The Ritz-Carlton Grande Lakes, FL
• The Ritz Carlton Residencies at Chevy Chase, MD
• Four Seasons Jackson Hole, WY
• Four Seasons Vail, CO
• Bellagio Hotel Las Vegas, NV
• Virgin Hotel Las Vegas, NV
• Waldorf Astoria Doha, Qatar
• Waldorf Astoria—The Avenues, Kuwait
• JW Marriott Desert Ridge Phoenix, AZ
• JW Marriott Essex House, NYC
• Hotel Martinez, Cannes, France
• One Palm, Dubai
• The Westin, London City
• Capitol Tower, Singapore
• Sino-Ocean Hangzhou Kempinski Hotel, China
• Hyatt Regency London Stratford
• Whitley Hotel Atlanta, GA
• P&O Arvia Cruise Ship
• Norwegian Grandeur Cruise Ship
• Norwegian Prima Cruise Ship
• Norwegian Viva Cruise Ship
• Norwegian Vista Cruise Ship
• Norwegian Sky Cruise Ship
• Celebrity Edge Cruise Ship
• Silversea Silver Nova Cruise Ship
• Artyzen Lingang Hotel Shanghai, China
• 7 for all Mankind Milan Flagship Store, Italy
• 7 for all Mankind Berlin Store, Germany
• Bank of America Tower, Chicago
• Sonesta Chicago Riverfront Hotel
• Baptist Hospital Miami, FL
• Chateau Elan Winery + Resort, GA
• Addison Reserve Country Club, FL
• Kimpton Hotel Monaco Portland, OR
• Westin Kierland Scottsdale, AZ
• Pendry Residences Park City, UT
• Montage Resort Laguna Beach, CA
• Hotel Clio Denver, CO
• AC Hotel San Diego, CA
• AC Hotel Brentwood, TN
• AC Hotel Fort Worth, TX


Where did you grow up and where are you now?

I was born and raised in Elk Grove Village, a suburb about 30 minutes from Chicago. I've always been in the arts, but chose to make graphic design my career when my high school art teacher told me that's the only way I could make a living as an artist (so not true!). I graduated from Northern Illinois University with a BFA in Visual Communications, packed up my car and moved to Tempe, AZ for a fun few years. In 2006 I made my way back to Chicago and have been living in the city since with my husband, Kyle, and my dog, June. I live in the Wicker Park neighborhood and my studio is in the West Loop. I dream of one day living somewhere that's warm year-round where I can stand up paddleboard, live in sandals, and plant a mango or avocado tree in my backyard.

What originally drew you to making paintings?

I was a graphic designer for most of my professional career and co-founded the design studio Knoed in 2011. We focused on branding for startups and small businesses, where we'd concept and design their logo, identity, packaging, website, etc. I discovered my love for painting in 2016 when I was creating the visual identity for a new apothecary. I wanted to use watercolor washes in their identity so I bought the supplies and started experimenting. I loved watching the paint react to water and the effect it gave once it dried. I liked that it had a mind of its own and was hard to control. It allowed me to let go of needing things to be perfect, which was freeing and therapeutic. So I bought more supplies and explored painting as a personal project, trying different ideas and techniques until I had a vision for my art which is how I eventually developed my own style.

Can you describe your creative process?

I start out knowing what the color palette is and then I think about the feeling I want the painting to have. That feeling will tie into a memory of mine that I'll use for inspiration. I'll think about what I saw, how I felt and what happened in that moment. I distill those thoughts and feelings down into shapes, marks and textures. I start a painting with an idea of what it’s going to be, but it almost always leads me down a path I don’t see coming. I react to the painting as I go, making the next layer based on the composition and color of the previous layer. If I get stuck, I usually take a picture of it and sketch ideas using Procreate to know what to do next. Or I’ll set it aside and think about it for a couple days. I know a painting is done when it just feels right and I wouldn’t add another thing to it.

What is the best advice you could give a novice artist?

It’s ok to not know everything you think you should know. I struggled with that in the beginning. Not that long ago I saw the quote “Every expert was once a beginner.” and it really struck a chord with me. We all start out somewhere—the beginning is all about guessing, making mistakes and failing. It’s what you have to do in order to learn and develop. I learned what I know the hard way because I didn’t take a single class on painting in art school and I don’t have anyone to guide me through it. So I learned what I know about painting through trial and error, Google searches and YouTube videos, and I’m still learning every day. We're all just figuring it out as we go and that's ok.

What is your go-to for inspiration?

The obvious sources of inspiration are Instagram and Pinterest. I follow artists who inspire me and enjoy seeing how their work evolves. My biggest source of inspiration is nature and the different landscapes I've seen while hiking and camping. I'll look at photos from past trips and study the details of the mountains, clouds, water or rocks. I also pull inspiration from my daily surroundings in the city, usually when I'm on a walk outside. There might be spray paint on a mailbox that creates an interesting texture or someone's landscaping uses rocks in an interesting composition. I constantly take pictures of textures and colors that inspire me and save them to an album on my phone.

Why do you work on paper and not canvas?

When I first started out, all I had was watercolor paper and I didn't know how to work with canvas (stretch it, prime it, etc). Plus a lot more space is needed for storing canvases and more materials and tools are needed for stretching canvas, which I didn't have the space or budget for. So paper is what I went with. But after trying out canvas later on, I learned that paper is much better suited for my techniques and for scanning the art to make prints. I still love that paper takes up less space and it's much easier to ship too. There's an art to stretching paper and hand tearing the edges that I enjoy as well. I will probably do a few paintings on canvas at some point but paper will always be my first choice.

I’ve used Kim’s art for a number of projects over the years and can’t say enough about working with her. She consistently adds new work, she is always quick to reply, and her artwork is ALWAYS stunning!

— Lindsey King, Art Consultant, DAC Art Consulting