Down to Earth, Yet Visionary, Art & Stories
At Girard Illustration we spread good vibes, healing, love, & good natured laughter.
Our mission is to awaken the heart, encourage independent thought, & create a healthy Earth.
We specialize in creating art and stories that explore the fascinating realms of imagination, science, and spirituality. Establishing and strengthening humanity's connection with nature in positive ways that benefit all is our main focus. Unapologetically green, we actively work to support and sustainably fund conservation and science efforts that help both animals and people thrive, while living in harmony.
Girard Illustration was founded by artist, writer, & visionary Kristen Girard.
The path of illustration & storytelling is dear to our hearts because it provides wonderful opportunities to:
- Truly see the world we live in.
- Fully grow love in our lives.
- Appreciate the every day magic of creation .
- Discover our natural inner beauty.
- Provide a respite when times are tough.
- Create an olive branch to bring peace, healing and lasting understanding.
- Encourage action to help our precious earth and ALL her creatures thrive.
Our Origin Story
Why Kristen Created Girard Illustration
There is more than one way to clearly see the world.
A Curious Mind
Our adventure into art and stories began in a small farming community in upstate New York, nestled between the foothills of the Adirondack and the Green Mountains.
It was a land of fields and forests, wide open skies, moon ridden mountains, and monarch butterflies. Kristen Girard grew up loving it – even though there were no dinosaur fossils for an aspiring paleontologist to find! So, she drew dinosaurs instead, read scientific journal articles, studied chicken growth and behavioral habits… and worked happily throughout elementary school all the way into her senior year of high school to create a solid foundation from which to become a paleontologist, a dinosaur scientist.
Except – fate had another path in mind.
Two far reaching shadows had been cast over Kristen's young life. Being young and invincible, as all teenagers are, she failed to realize the true impact the first shadow would have over her bright goals and shining future.
Shadow # 1
There are somethings that can be ignored, surmounted or overcome with enough will and determination.
Type 1 diabetes is not one of them.
Neither are the absolutely vital medical supplies that keep a type 1 diabetic alive and healthy.
There is no ignoring the fact that without a ready supply of viable insulin, and a means to inject it, a type 1 diabetic will slip into a coma and die within days. By age 18, Kristen Girard was very familiar with her diabetes, having been diagnosed at the age of 10. As a budding scientist, she knew that it was going to be an enormous challenge to manage her ever present, chronic, incurable health condition at college. It was going to be an even bigger challenge later on during hoy and dirty dig expeditions, and even day-to-day while conducting scientific study in a museum lab. Yet, she had big dreams and she was determined to not let diabetes hold her back.
But it did.
By the age of 18, Kristen's type 1 diabetes was already well on the road to walling her off from her dreams of scientific study. The wall formed of accumulating years of chronic illness, despite Kristen's best efforts to manage her health, were already beginning to take their toll - making her tired, easily ill, and fragile in overall health. Then, an even higher wall formed, made up of the cost of health insurance and medical supplies, on top of the usual college costs. The odds of achieving her dream began to be stacked unachievably high against her, casting a deep, dark shadow over her life. Yet she was still determined to step out into the light of science.
Shadow # 2
An old enemy long thought vanquished blocks the light.
Kristen's aspirations for a career in science came to a grinding halt on a sunny fall afternoon in a college lab. She was squinting, shaking her head to clear it, and blinking constantly in an effort to clear her vision so she could make observations through a microscope. Despite her industrious desire to study animal biology on her journey towards a career in paleontology – she couldn’t see the tissue sample on the microscope slide.
An old traumatic eye injury from her toddler years was flaring up – badly.
There were so many floaters in her eyes that it was very difficult to see through the microscope - at all - day after day in the college lab. How in the world could she become a scientist if she couldn't use a microsope? The door to science was closing fast, and as it shut a blank wall, devoid of dreams, formed in it's place – casting a permanent shadow.
The death of a dream
It's a terrible feeling, knowing your dream has just slipped away, likely never to return.
For a time, frustration and depression became Kristen's constant companions, made worse on by the ever present reminder of type 1 diabetes. She felt lost, her dreams paved over like a green, life giving forest for yet another barren, dead box store.
Unsure. Bleak. Utterly displaced.
A hopeless shell.
Closed away from the world...
A ray of light
Never under estimate the power of a kind word.
There are small moments, tiny fractions of time infused with a little bit of positive feeling that can quite unexpectedly transform a life into a brilliant light when all seems dim and grey.
On a cold, rainy day late in November, Kristen was outside the science lab, looking over her scientific notes and drawings after a test, when inspiration struck her like a match. The biology professor had said how much he loved her scientific observation drawings because of their beauty and accuracy. Kristen had appreciated the sentiment, but hadn't really considered the implications because she had been so focused on a career in science, until it crumbled apart.
Looking over her drawings and notes that day she had an epiphany. Though she could only see through a microscope with great effort, and extreme patience because she had to slowly piece everything together as the mass of floaters in her eyes moved and shifted, her normal day to day vision was mostly fine.
And she loved to draw and paint!
It began to dawn on Kristen Girard that as an artist she could still study science, interpret data, and raise questions about how the world works. As an illustrator she could still study paleontology and focus on dinosaurs!
Even better, if she were to choose the path of art, Kristen could also pursue her love of horses, whales, and the natural environment. She could also write down the stories that inspired her artwork. Through the avenues of artwork and storytelling Kristen realized that she could become a force for positive change to protect the wild animals, fields, and forests, that took her breathe away with joy and awe.
And she could create inventive ways to work around her poor health to lead an artfully creative life on her terms.
Instead of feeling closed in by tall walls and deep shadows, her world began to open back up, growing brighter and brighter with each drawing, painting, and story.
Dreaming once again
With resourcefulness and determination, Kristen learned the arts of illustration and story telling.
For her hard work and sparkling ingenuity Kristen Girard earned many academic honors on her way to achieving her BFA in Illustration from the innovative SUNY Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City, NY, as well as her MFA in Illustration from the esteemed Hartford University in Hartford, CT. Kristen currently paints with spirit and writes with heart at the Girard Illustration studio she founded, which is nestled in the lovely Saratoga, NY region.
Diabetes and the eye injury kept putting tall obstacles in her path over the years, but she refused to be stopped. She became adept at resilience. Kristen is one "tough cookie". Life can be full of hard knocks, but that doesn't mean we have to be defined by them.
Her artworks are held as beloved treasures in many private art collections. Girard has taught and guest lectured extensively on illustration, photography, and design at public and private events, colleges, and schools. When seeking inspiration for her next artwork or story, Kristen Girard can be found at the stable with her apple adoring Clydesdale horse, or rock climbing in the Adirondack Park with her husband, Kirby.
As the lead creator of Girard Illustration, she continues to find lasting freedom, peace, and inner purpose through her artwork and story creation.
To learn more about the Girard Illustration creative team click here.
Art Made for You
Unconventional portraits for unique, down to earth people who happen to appreciate a little bit of unexpected wonder and magic in their day.
There is more to the world and cosmos than first meets the eye, just like there is so much more to each one of us than we can express.
Commissioning an intuitive portrait artwork is a wonderful way to decorate your home with artwork that is truly meaningful to you.