With Softball Done, Megan Kleist's Art Career Has Just Begun
While Megan Kleist's college softball career is over, the former All-American’s art career is just starting to take off.
“I’ve always been one to want to create art,” Kleist says. “Even when I was little, I had sketchbooks of ugly, ugly drawings. I would always go over to my grandma’s house and take out the markers and eventually, she’d have them sitting there waiting for me when I got there.”
Kleist, who opted not to use her final year of college softball eligibility in 2021, found her love for watercolors during her senior year at Kimberly High School in Appleton, Wis. after being begged by one of her art teachers to take the class and try something new.
Then, while in her sophomore year at the University of Oregon, Kleist officially began her own business creating her own unique artwork. The business, “Kreated by Kleist,” features her artwork in a variety of fun and useful forms. The former pitcher has been able to turn her creations not only into paintings and prints, but also into bookmarks, ornaments, magnets, stickers, postcards, greeting cards and coasters.
“I really take inspiration from the hippie period of time, kind of like a 70s thing. I really like those browns and yellows,” Kleist says.
Nearly all of Kleist’s artwork is themed after nature. She illustrates mountain scenery, turtles, dogs, mushrooms, florals and everything in between. One of her ultimate goals is to use her art to bring awareness to creatures and habitats that are threatened or endangered.
“I like to use color to really bring out the beauty in those creatures,” Kleist says. “Just kind of bringing light to the beauty of the creatures that are threatened, so maybe some people who didn’t think they were beautiful before, will think they are beautiful now.
“Art can be used in a way of conservation,” she adds. “So, I’m kind of joining the environment together with my love of art.”
Some of her favorite pieces include a pair of sea turtles and several octopuses. With one of her longest pieces taking her upwards of 20 hours to complete.
“As soon as I started getting some orders and people started giving me feedback saying they loved it and taking pictures with it, it felt very rewarding and it’s that feeling in the end that makes it all worth it,” she says.
Kleist’s knowledge and appreciation for nature can be partially attributed to graduating from Oregon with a degree in environmental studies and a minor in geology, while also working on a graduate program in environmental resource science during her time at Louisiana.
Kleist continues that living back in Oregon has been the perfect muse for her work, drawing inspiration from the local mountain ranges, coastline and plant life.
Whether bringing awareness to different areas of the ecosystem or just painting a portrait of someone’s beloved pet, Kleist gets peace and satisfaction from creating art with a purpose.
She dreams of becoming an illustrator for Disney one day, and is getting her first crack at creating images to accompany a story in the near future.
“I will be illustrating a children’s book. It’s something that’s new and I’m excited for that,” she says. “It’s something that’s definitely going to be a challenge for me.
“It’s a new avenue and I hope it goes somewhere, but even if it doesn’t, the purpose of the book is to help children grieving through the loss of family members. It’s about trying to make the whole process of losing somebody not so scary through my art.”
Kleist remains open-minded to any opportunities involving her art, from displaying it in coffee shops and gallerias to continuing to create crafts for customers. She looks forward to continuing to grow her business in the future.
“Making a life out of art is pretty tough unless you have a really good following,” Kleist added. “I think that part of my success so far is thanks to softball.”