Lawrence artist crafts custom-made songs and illustrations for Valentine’s Day, other occasions

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A lifelong musician, Katlyn Conroy feels compelled to make music. At 33, she’s built her life around singing and songwriting.

“My entire life, since I can remember, I’ve known that I wanted to be a musician. It just comes really naturally to me in the sense that it makes me feel good and it’s therapeutic.”

While growing up in Lawrence, Conroy sang in choir. At 12, she wrote her first song and formed a band at 15. For years she toured with Cowboy Indian Bear. Nowadays, Conroy is a mom to a 2-year-old and a member of the band Cheery alongside musicians Nick Carswell and Billy Skorupski.

Conroy said she drew inspiration from Omaha’s Saddle Creek independent record label and bands such as Bright Eyes. Writing songs for boys opened doors to sharing her feelings toward them without “too much nervousness.” As her musical career progressed she noticed the most feedback she received came from the sad love songs she had penned. “And so I kind of used to joke that I would write custom love songs for people.”

The opportunity to write those unique and personal tunes arrived in 2014. Facing a bout of writer’s block, Conroy longed for a project in which she could create without so much pressure. She offered custom-made love songs to help get her creativity flowing again. Within three weeks, she had written more than 30 commissions. “The coolest part to me was that I promised myself that I wouldn’t follow a formula, I wouldn’t repeat anything.”

Pets, children and adults — all have been recipients of her creativity. Conroy has composed more than 300 songs for special events such as anniversaries, birthdays, Valentine’s Day and other holidays. Conroy said she’s open to new opportunities such as birth and pregnancy announcements and even wedding proposals. She loves participating in others’ joyous surprises.

Katlyn Conroy A custom-made digital illustration by Katlyn Conroy

The highlight for Conroy: a lullaby she wrote for her friends’ newborn. ”That was really special, because I just was thinking about her growing up hearing that.”

She’s also crafted songs for less-than-happy occasions, including breakups. “That’s challenging and a little bit stressful, but it’s still been interesting.”

And she’s flexible when it comes to genres. If she had to categorize her band Cheery’s style, Conroy quipped she would go with Bummer Pop, which she describes as happy and energetic but with content that’s kind of a bummer. 

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Above all, Conroy loves a challenge and has composed songs in various styles, including country, rap and R&B. Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the single mom has viewed her services as more relevant than ever with many folks unable to visit their loved ones as often as they did in pre-pandemic times.

Conroy has coupled her lyrical and instrumental passions with her experience in digital illustrating to offer one-of-a-kind gifts year-round. Typically, clients contact Conroy via email, CustomSongAndSketch@gmail.com, with their initial specs to launch the project.

Digital gifts — songs and illustrations — are available in several packages, which are shown below. The deadline for Valentine’s Day gifts is Wednesday, Feb. 9.

Katlyn Conroy Lawrence artist Katlyn Conroy offers custom packages, including songs and digital illustrations, year-round.
Katlyn Conroy A custom-made digital illustration by Katlyn Conroy
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Tricia Masenthin (she/her), equity reporter, can be reached at tmasenthin (at) lawrencekstimes (dot) com. Read more of her work for the Times here. Check out her staff bio here.

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