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Plastic Free July

Behind the Artist - Kika MacFarlane

Behind the Artist - Kika MacFarlane

Here at Pela, we believe that our phone cases can be an empowering medium, in support of people AND the planet. The art featured on our plant-based cases is intentionally curated and beautifully designed. We want to share the stories of the artists behind our collections with you. For our latest collection release, National Parks, we have collaborated with digital illustrator and activist Kika McFarlane.

“I love the idea of taking things that can sometimes be mundane, and using them as a place to not only showcase art, but showcase your personality.” 

For as long as Kika can remember, she has been an artist. Doodles of mountains and font types could be found in the margin of this budding artist’s high school notebooks. While in university she found her passion for digital illustration. “When I was pursuing a post-high school education, I was faced with a choice a lot of young people make - do I pursue art, even though no one around me believes it can be a viable career, or do I pursue engineering, even though I knew it wouldn’t make me fully happy? Luckily I ended up at a liberal arts college in Canada where I didn’t have to choose, and it didn’t take me long to realize that the perfect combination of art and problem solving was in fact visual design.” 

A woman working on a tablet in the woods

Digital Illustration is a tool for social change for Kika. “When artists create these graphics, and other people share them, it’s more than just learning or sharing action steps. It’s also shaping individual’s identities. For example, sharing a graphic about using less plastic is less about educating your circle about why plastic is bad, and more about creating a public stance and aligning oneself with care for the earth. Illustration has the power to create that identity shift on a large scale, and I believe that’s really powerful.” This past summer Kika’s Instagram post on what she calls “Toxic Gear Culture” went viral. She explains, “The idea behind the post came from the behavior I recognized in myself – which was an unnecessary elitism when it came to the clothes and gear people used in outdoor sports. I realized that one step towards creating a more diverse and inclusive outdoors was eliminating this form of gatekeeping. Though the post was personal and vulnerable and intended as a way to hold myself accountable, I saw a huge response from people not only sharing their experiences with Toxic Gear Culture, but also sharing the post as a way to symbolically say they were ready to put the work into a more inclusive outdoors - starting by less judging, and more helping.”

“I believe that we can’t actually begin working towards a more sustainable future without dismantling the systems that keep race and class-based oppression alive in our society.”

“I am very passionate about the intersection of climate justice and social justice. I’m passionate about putting BIPOC voices first in social and environmental activist spaces, and making sure to uplift and celebrate the work that is being done by these people.

As an avid skier, climber, and hiker, I’m also well aware of how exclusive and non diverse the outdoor space can be. I’m very passionate about finding ways to make the outdoors more inclusive and tearing down some of those walls for others.”

A hand holding three phones 

Kika is now a full time freelancer and owns her own creative studio, Two Toes Creative. There, they provide illustrations, art direction, and animation for their clients, and are big on bringing stories to life with visuals. Kika says that it's a dream come true to get to create her own schedule, work on projects she believes in, and pursue art and design full time. 

Kika’s designs for our National Parks Collection include Yosemite, Sawtooth, and Grand Teton. Follow Kika MacFarlane on Instagram @kikamack and shop more of her work online at https://www.kikamacfarlane.co/.