DELVE Interviews

DELVE Interview: Rhia Hurt

WELCOME TO DELVE INTERVIEWS, A LOOK INTO THE UNIQUE PATHS OF ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE INDIVIDUALS. DELVE IS AN EDUCATIONAL AND COACHING PLATFORM TO HELP YOU GET THE BUSINESS SIDE OF YOUR CAREER IN ORDER. THE ARTISTS WE INTERVIEW ARE POSITIVE FORCES IN THEIR COMMUNITIES AND THEY SHARE TOOLS AND ADVICE THAT THEY'VE LEARNED TO INSPIRE EACH OF US IN OUR PROFESSIONAL AND ARTISTIC GOALS. 

Rhia with her recent installation,   Stair Gazing,   at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey

Rhia with her recent installation, Stair Gazing, at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey

Rhia Hurt is a fine artist currently based in New York City. She received her MFA in Painting at the San Francisco Art Institute in 2009 and has since shown her artwork in California, New York, Berlin, and Toronto. Her work is in private collections throughout the United States. In addition to her studio art practice, Hurt is also the Executive Director of Brooklyn Art Space & Trestle Gallery, an arts organization in Brooklyn, NY. She currently has a solo installation at the Visual Arts Center of New Jersey.

Can you describe your path as an artist – from where and when you began, until now?

My path has been an interest in art and interdisciplinary learning since I was young; in high school I excelled in English and Studio Art. I loved how personal stories in literature and art can teach so much about history, the natural world, power dynamics, and ourselves. I studied art and education in college and grad school, getting an MA in teaching and MFA in painting. I taught in public schools for 10 years before working in an arts organization and moving forward with a team to found a non-profit contemporary art gallery and educational program in Brooklyn. For me, art is a way to enter into and understand many topics and personal life experiences. It’s one of the richest ways to see many points of view on any subject, and does its work on multiple levels, intellectual, emotional, and physical. I have a vision for creating community around art making and observing through my work at Trestle.

What does a day or week in your professional life look like?

Star Bursts , 2016, acrylic and synthetic silk over wire, dimensions variable

Star Bursts, 2016, acrylic and synthetic silk over wire, dimensions variable

Professional and personal get all mixed together in order for me to get things done. My days are spent trying to get out the door, sneaking in an email, making a phone call, going to work, meeting with staff members, writing more emails, getting my son from daycare, playing, making dinner, doing bedtime routine, and then doing more work. I can work on my personal art projects in stages while tending to Gray. I observe nature with him, walk, and make things by sewing art components while Gray plays with blocks, or playdough. Sometimes we draw and paint collaboratively, while I do color studies. Studio time and alone time are rare these days, but I soak it up when I can. On the plus side, this alone time is very productive because I’ve been thinking of what I want to do for days before I actually get in there.

But days are not all balanced and perfect. My colleague and mentor, Mel Prest, once told me, “Artists don’t usually live ‘balanced’ lives; or if they do, it’s not all balanced at the same time.” So, to me that means some days/weeks/months I’m mostly focused only on my work as an administrator, some days I’m trying to figure out my and my son’s health insurance situation, some days I’m trying to figure out how to get to the gym, some days I get one or two or three hours in the studio, some days I work on my website or announcement, research and read, some days I go see art, go do a studio visit, or take an hour or two at home to pay my own bills, etc. I try to make sure there are things included in every day that “feed me” and inspire me.

What do you do to promote your work and get opportunities? What are some challenges you've overcome in expanding your audience?

Make work and talk to people. Invite people I admire to my studio. Promoting is not my strong suit. Making work that excites me is where I really want to spend my time. I love color, organic forms, the ability for my process to shift and surprise me. In my latest work, I create wire forms and sew canvas to them and paint both two dimensional and three dimensional structures. The forms are related to nature and the body.

Coalescence Cascade,  Acrylic, canvas over wire. Approx 27 x 60 x 5 inches

Coalescence Cascade, Acrylic, canvas over wire. Approx 27 x 60 x 5 inches

I think momentum comes into play because work comes from work, as many artists (and other creative people) before me have noticed and said. Artists I’ve met with similar interests and values tend to share opportunities and I do too. It’s so great to be able to support fellow artists. So, again, I think the space to make work (mental and actual space) and a community of other like minded professionals is what keeps momentum going.

One challenge is finding an audience since I am not often thinking of that when I make the work. Over time the right people sort of find each other through looking and doing research, like going to see art exhibitions, following artists on social media, etc. My intended audience hasn’t ever really been collectors, but more other artists and art spaces I like. However, I have had a couple of collectors find my work through exhibitions and word of mouth. I currently have a show at The Visual Art Center of New Jersey. The assistant curator there, Katherine Murdock, saw my work in a mailer from another show I participated in and scheduled a studio visit, which led to this show. I think the best way to get out there is by trying out different avenues when opportunities become available. Over time, I’ve learned that I don’t need to say yes to everything (especially with time constraints). But I do say yes to participating in things when I believe in the project and the people involved.

Red Earth,  Acrylic, canvas over wire. Approx 36 x 40 x 8 inches.

Red Earth, Acrylic, canvas over wire. Approx 36 x 40 x 8 inches.

What is a major goal you have set for yourself in the past year that you accomplished? How did you do it?

Keep making work and finding exhibition opportunities despite a challenging schedule with work and personal life. I have to do it or I would go completely nuts. I do a little everyday, even if it’s just sitting for 10 minutes and putting paints in order by color. These sort of things actually make me happy and feel more balanced and ready to start a new project. Deadlines and encouraging artist friends (like Mel Prest, Arlan Huang, Melissa Staiger, Jean Rim, Katerina Lanfranco, Myra Kooy, Lorrie Fredette, and Austin Thomas for example), studio visits into other studios and inviting artists and curators to mine, and collective critique groups like MAW (started by Katerina Lanfranco and Clarity Haynes),  and Trestle’s open critique, have helped me stay connected when things have sort of felt out of whack.

When I feel low about what I can’t get done, I remind myself that my experiences and efforts add up to something meaningful and important over time.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from managing all your projects?

Try to work smarter not harder. Well, right now it’s smarter and harder, but I hope to cut back on the harder part at some point. When I feel low about what I can’t get done, I remind myself that my experiences and efforts add up to something meaningful and important over time. Also, the payoff to some work doesn’t happen right away or in a linear fashion. I think that doing the work for a long time is the only way to see the effects.

And where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

Hiking in the coastal redwoods of the Pacific Northwest. And walking/running near the beaches there. I also love going to see art in small contemporary art galleries, LES like Invisible Exports and Chelsea galleries like Cheim & Read, as well as going to The Whitney, The MET and other great institutions in NYC.

Wings , Acrylic, canvas over wire. Approx 36 x 120 x 5 inches

Wings, Acrylic, canvas over wire. Approx 36 x 120 x 5 inches

 

 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

50+ interviews to inspire you to take action

Did you know that we have a beautiful archive full of over 50 interviews with inspiring artists and creatives? We couldn't believe it, either.

Our series of DELVE interviews explore the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. How did they get to where they are? What did they do before? What does a day or week in their professional lives look like? Check out our whole series of DELVE Interviews here.

Five Alive is an interview series where we ask creative people we admire five questions about their practice. They are short, powerful glimpses into the worlds of talented people, just like you. See our growing Five Alive series here.

Enjoy and be inspired! XO, Sara and Andrea

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Halsey Burgund

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. DELVE is an educational and coaching platform to help you get the business side of your career in order. We celebrate everyone's path as positive forces in their communities and share tools and advice we all need to meet our goals. 

Musician and sound artist, Halsey Burgund. Photo courtesy of the artist.

Musician and sound artist, Halsey Burgund. Photo courtesy of the artist.

This month we have been exploring ways to share your work with your ideal audience online and in person and wanted to introduce you to Halsey Burgund, a musician and sound artist living outside Boston. Both his installations and musical performances make extensive use of spoken human voice recordings as musical elements, alongside traditional and electronic instruments. In many ways, Halsey's work is a combination of socio-anthropological 'research', musical documentary and contributory experience. Recently, his work has focused on contributory location-based audio installations for which he developed Roundware, a distributed platform for collecting, organizing and re-presenting media via smartphones and the web.

Halsey has exhibited and performed in museums and galleries internationally, including the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, the deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Puke Ariki Museum (NZ), Tyne & Wear Archive and Museums, Newcastle, UK, the Museum of Science, Boston and the California Academy of Sciences. He was awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship to explore their audio archives for future work and is currently a fellow in MIT’s Open Documentary Lab as well as a Research Affiliate at the MIT Media Lab.

An installation shot of  Faint Earth Murmur  at Harvard University by Halsey Burgund. Photo courtesy of the artist.

An installation shot of Faint Earth Murmur at Harvard University by Halsey Burgund. Photo courtesy of the artist.

He currently is exhibiting his project, Faint Earth Murmur, an interactive exploration of the history of radio at Harvard University. Faint Earth Murmur aims to resurrect the long since lost in the internet-age, excitement and anticipation of physically tuning a radio dial to discover new stations and new sounds. The installation brings gallery visitors on an unpredictable aural journey of the past 100 years of radio via six themes ranging from politics to entertainment to sports.

Thanks for sharing your path with us, Halsey!

 

 


Can you describe your path as an artist – from where and when you began, until now?

I took a long time to focus my life on my artistic interests. I wrote a poem that became a song a long time ago that included the line “sneaking along a circuitous path” and I think that’s essentially what I’ve been doing in my life:

In college, I majored in Geology & Geophysics and generally was a science/math nerd. I took a bunch of music classes as well and played drum kit in bands, which was my primary creative outlet at that time in my life. When I graduated, I wanted to do something more physical than mental and I’d always loved working with my hands, so I spent a few years teaching myself woodworking and designing and building furniture. That wasn’t overly lucrative and I stopped doing it for money when I began resenting that all the careful detailed work I wanted to do to realize my aesthetic desires ended up being inversely proportional to my profits.

I began working in high-tech consulting and internet security and quit that after earning enough money to give myself a decent runway to give the art/music career a real go. I have not had a “real” job since then and it’s been over 10 years now.

What does a day or week in your professional life look like?

Sadly, I think I’m fairly typical in that I don’t spend nearly as much time as I would like actually creating new work.

I spend a large chunk of my time in my studio at my computer either doing logistical things like answering emails (or email interviews for blogs!), doing online research and various promotional activities like website work etc. I work a lot on the logistics of the various projects I have underway at any given time and I also typical spend some time managing software development of Roundware (my contributory, location-based audio platform) either for a specific project (sometimes art-related, sometimes more commercial) or for general advancement of the platform.

I offend conduct interviews of participants, listen to these interviews and slice them up into appropriate chunks for use in my work. And when I’m lucky, I get to write music to go with the voices.

Also, I have two small boys and my studio is at home, so quite often, I am invaded by their craziness, which tends to bring a halt to most of my productivity. I lead an interrupt-driven existence currently which is very challenging with all of my work, but in particular my creative work as getting into the “flow” is almost impossible. I hear when they get older, things will calm down a bit.

What do you do to promote your work and get opportunities? What are some challenges you've overcome in expanding your audience?

Thankfully I am at a point in my career where some of my work comes to me passively and I don’t have to generate all of my opportunities myself. I still apply for grants and actively pursue museum curators whom I think might be interested in my work. Sometimes I propose specific projects for specific museums/institutions and I keep a cache of project ideas that are looking for the right opportunity to become a reality.

I suppose I have overcome some of the challenges in expanding my audience, but it feels like there are tons more still to overcome. As a sound artist, a perpetual challenge is explaining what sound art is (which requires me to pretend that I know what it is) and figuring out ways of letting the public know that my work exists as it is often invisible. Sadly, I don’t have any specific silver bullets for expanding audiences, but I can say that I now allocate a much more significant portion of my overall budget for any given project to promotion/marketing than I used to. Things don’t tend to go well if that is an afterthought, especially since most of my projects require contributions from the public in order to become fully realized.

Can you tell us about an upcoming project?

I’m working on a project currently called “From the Mouths of Monkeys” which was commissioned by the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston. It will be an outdoor audio installation along a path in the Greenway, which is a new-ish park in downtown Boston that occupies the space previously occupied by I-93, which is now underground thanks to the Big Dig.

I am interviewing around a dozen people (from 0 to 84 years old) who were born in the year of the monkey – according to the Chinese Zodiac – and diving into questions of belief systems; zodiac-driven, religious, scientific, etc. The voices will be arranged with music in four sections that will be playing from speakers mounted on lamp posts lining an urban, though leafy, path.

The project is slated to open in July and will be up until late Fall.

And where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

My extended family has a place on an island off the coast of Maine which I have been going to for my entire life and it for me is the most relaxing, motivating and inspirational place I’ve ever been. Thankfully I can return there often. It is beautiful for all of the senses and I often just go on walks or sit at the end of the pier and look/listen/smell/feel the wind and my mind wanders in ways I don’t allow it to in other places. I do a lot of work on the house and property - chainsawing, boat work, painting etc - which gets me in a different mindset and gives me a different sense of accomplishment and satisfaction which I find helps my creative work. 

I’m not sure if it is the decades-long connection I have to the place or the natural beauty or something less direct, but there is no doubt that this place does something to me that nowhere else can...at least not yet.

Halsey Burgund performing “Ocean Voices” at the Museum of Science, Boston

Halsey Burgund performing “Ocean Voices” at the Museum of Science, Boston

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Katerina Lanfranco

WELCOME TO DELVE INTERVIEWS, A LOOK INTO THE UNIQUE PATHS OF ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE INDIVIDUALS. THESE CONVERSATIONS ARE A BRANCH OF OUR DELVE WORKSHOPS AND EVENTS, WHERE WE CELEBRATE EVERYONE'S UNIQUE PATHS AS ARTISTIC AND CREATIVE FORCES AND SHARE THE TOOLS AND ADVICE WE ALL NEED TO MEET OUR GOALS.


This month we're talking about finding focusstaying motivated, and building confidence so that your creative work stays at the forefront of your mind and at the top of your priority list, and wanted to introduce you to Katerina Lanfranco, an inspiring artist who embodies this topic in her daily interdisciplinary practice. 

Below a Sea of Stars, installation view

Below a Sea of Stars, installation view

Katerina Lanfranco is a Brooklyn-based artist whose body of work includes paintings, drawings, sculptures, and mixed media installations. She earned her BA from UC Santa Cruz and her MFA from Hunter College, City University of New York. Her work is represented by the Nancy Hoffman Gallery, and is in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art, the Kupferstichkabinett (Museum of Prints and Drawings) in Berlin, and the Corning Museum of Glass. She teaches studio art at the MOMA, among other institutions for higher learning throughout New York. Lanfranco is the founder and director of Rhombus Space, an exhibition space in Brooklyn where she curates concept-driven group and solo shows. She is also Chief Curator at Brooklyn’s Trestle Gallery.

Can you describe your path as an artist – from where and when you began, until now?

Katerina in her studio

Katerina in her studio

I was very artistic as a child, though I didn't think of myself as such. I really began my formal path as an artist when I decided to study Studio Art, along with an independent major entitled “Visual Theory and Museum Studies” at the University of California at Santa Cruz for my undergrad. Prior to that, I was pretty invested in playing the cello (10 years), and was interested in areas of physics and the arts within a social context. In high school, I wrote a long research paper on Chaos Theory, and competed in regional physics competitions. My early interests in music and science still impact and inform my artwork today. I describe my work as a combination of science, art, and fantasy. 

What does a day or week in your professional life look like?

My professional life is pretty multifaceted. I balance my own studio practice with curatorial work and teaching. I try to maintain a type of fluidity in my daily professional life, while staying very much in touch with my authentic creative self and ideas with a clear course and direction. It’s an amalgam of intuition, pragmatism, and hard work. I feel lucky that as an artist there is no retirement age, since there is still so much I want to contribute through my work. In a typical week I teach 3 days, and try to be in studio the other days. Periodically I also teach at the Museum of Modern Art; the American Folk Art Museum; and at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Depending on the exhibition schedule at Trestle Gallery, where I am the Chief Curator, I may also be installing exhibitions before a show opens. My studio is sort of a haven. I've gotten to a point where I can't run everything myself, but my experience of doing so has been extremely useful in understanding all of the aspects of a professional artist's life and the logistics of running an art gallery. I have two interns this year, and I work with assistants at the gallery. I love organizing, and I find delegating work to be a more socially engaged form of organizing.

Tomorrow Dreams of Neon, site specific painting at Andrew Edlin Gallery, NYC

Tomorrow Dreams of Neon, site specific painting at Andrew Edlin Gallery, NYC

What is a major goal you have set for yourself in the past year that you accomplished? How did you do it?

A major goal this past year was to get a new studio. I journaled about it, daydreamed about it, and discussed it often with my studio manager. When I really commit to something, people have described me as “having a bee in my bonnet". I find that this type of tenacity is essential though, since my life requires perpetual multitasking, and it enables me to focus very clearly on whatever the task is at hand so that I can be totally present and engaged.

I started doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu in the fall, in part for physical exercise to balance out those sedentary studio days, but also to be present in myself - body and mind. Generally my approach to a project is to research first, set achievable expectations, and then execute those goals. I'm a big fan of visualization as well. If I can see it in my mind, then I am pretty sure I can manifest it in reality - or at I least I give it a wholehearted try!

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from managing all your projects?

I have learned so many valuable lessons:
To know my limits by testing them.
To be fearless.
To say yes more often than no.
To be open to intuitive ideas.
To embrace seriousness and playfulness simultaneously.

What advice do you often find yourself giving to the artists that you work with?

Don't be so hard on yourself. Self-criticism can be so harmful and unproductive.

Draw it out. It’s the first step to bring a visual idea into being.

Where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

I love spontaneous day trips and visiting other people's studios. Traveling reminds me that there are so many other realities that exist. Travel also helps put things into perspective and opens up my understanding of the world. And of course I find inspiration in museums – both the art and non-art kinds. I also love being immersed in the natural world, but I think anyone could guess this from looking at my art.

Can you tell us about an upcoming project?

Coming up, Rhia Hurt and I are co-curating an exhibition at Trestle Gallery entitled “Laughing Out Loud” feature work by Nadine Beauharnois, Todd Bienvenu, Caroline Chandler, Ari Eshoo, Seth Kaufman, Christina Kelly, Jen Nista, Archie Rand, Emilie Selden, Michael Scoggins, Petra Valentova, Daniel Wiener, and Crys Yin.

 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Rachel Kroh of Heartell Press

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces and share the tools and advice we all need to meet our goals.


Today we're excited to be speaking with Rachel Kroh, an artist and printmaker in the Gowanus neighborhood of Brooklyn, NY. She is the owner of Heartell Press (pronounced here-tell), a line of letterpress greeting cards and art prints made with hand-carved woodblocks. Rachel has graduate degrees in both printmaking and religion, and the sympathy, love and encouragement cards she creates for Heartell Press are partly inspired by the community and music work she has done in churches part time to support her art practice. She’s interested in how people find meaning and connect with one another, during hard times and good times.

We love Rachel's work (definitely buy some of her beautiful cards and prints) and are so happy to get to know her and her work on a deeper level. All of this January we have been exploring dreams, resolutions, goals, planning and balance. Reading the interview below illustrates all of these topics on the most inspired level, and we are so thankful to Rachel for sharing her wisdom, insight and glimpses into her life with us!


Rachel Kroh of Heartell Press at work in her studio, photo by Kind Aesthetic

Rachel Kroh of Heartell Press at work in her studio, photo by Kind Aesthetic

Can you describe your path as an artist – from where and when you began, until now?

I’m not someone who discovered a talent at a young age and pursued it with single-minded purpose. I experimented with all sorts of different media growing up, including watercolor, ceramics and photography, but I also was interested in dance, music and poetry. I discovered printmaking in college and I’ve been hooked ever since, but I also studied other subjects, especially religion. I grew up Unitarian and have always been fascinated by how people of different faiths find meaning and connection. Religion and art feel closely related to me. They are both disciplines that involve a practice of walking up to the line of what we know and looking out over the edge.

I did an apprenticeship at a traditional letterpress in the mountains of British Columbia after college. I loved the rhythms of setting type and printing, but seeing the printers I worked for struggle to make ends meet had a chastening effect on my dreams of making a living as a printer. So I enrolled in a graduate program in religion and art history at Yale Divinity School that happened to have a great scholarship program. I realized pretty quickly academia wasn’t going to work as a substitute for making art, and when I finished my degree, I packed up my car and drove straight to Chicago to pursue an MFA in the Print Media department at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.

I had never been so happy as I was those two years, making all kinds of terrible art, working through ideas and learning so much. However, the question of how to pay the rent was still waiting for me when I received my diploma. A friend who I’d known while I was in divinity school offered me an interesting part-time job (with health insurance!) doing administrative and community work for a new progressive dinner church she was starting in New York, and since I knew the city would be a great place to build my career as an artist, I packed up again and headed back east after graduation.

I did that job for five years, spending as much of my spare time as I could in my studio and showing my work in galleries in Manhattan and Brooklyn. I was painting mostly, using gouache and watercolor on paper, and I also made a few large-scale sculptures. In 2014 I came to a point where I realized that I wanted to be spending a lot more of my time in the studio than I had been. My mom was also sick that year, and it made me realize that life can change without warning and gave me the courage to make a big change in my job that freed up more of my time.

My experience caring for my mom also inspired the idea for Heartell Press. I realized that I wanted sympathy cards to send her that were warmer and more sincere than the ones I could find in that category in stores. I started working on my first collection of cards in the summer of 2014 and launched the website in October of that year. It took me a while to decide to give up painting and step back from showing fine art in galleries in order to give all my attention to the business, but once I made that decision it was a big relief. Working on Heartell Press is the most satisfying iteration of my art practice that I’ve ever had. It allows me to draw on my experience working at the church and seeing how people help one another to bear the hard times and share joy and gratitude for all the good things we experience in life. I like the relational aspect of stationery– it feels good to be able to make things that are useful to people in an immediate, emotional way.

heartell_press_fall_2015_3x2-11.jpg

Can you describe a day or week in your professional life?

One of the things I love about running a business is setting my own schedule. That said, I love routines and habits—the fewer decisions I have to make in a day the better! I start the day with a cup of coffee and some kind of exercise, have breakfast with my husband and get to the studio (in an industrial building a few blocks from my apartment in Gowanus) by 10.

I like to do a little tidying up when I first come in, sweeping up wood shavings if I was carving the night before, or cleaning up the press area if I was printing. I am one of those people for whom a neat space equals a clear head. I spend the morning working on whatever my top priority or most challenging task is for the day. I am sharpest in the morning so I try to use that time well. In addition to my work on Heartell I also have a part-time job running a small nonprofit, so I split my admin time in the mornings. I check my email last, right before lunch when I’m starting to get hungry, so it doesn’t take over the day. I always take a break and go out to the common area in our studio building for lunch—there’s a window there and lots of nice plants and since my space doesn’t have windows, it can be disorienting if I don’t take a break and get a little sunshine.

After lunch I work on tasks that don’t require as much brain power and are more hands-on—shipping orders, carving, printing or packaging. I also like to schedule meetings for the afternoons. I leave around 6 or 7 to have dinner at home. A couple of nights a week I might go back after we eat to do some more carving or printing, but I try hard to keep that time for rest and spending time with my husband. I also take Saturdays off—I’ve found it’s really important for me to have one day a week when I just don’t work at all and just enjoy the city, go to a museum or for a hike. I go to bed around 10 or 11—I like to sleep!

What is a major goal you have set for yourself in the past year that you accomplished? How did you do it?

My big goal for 2015 was to create my first wholesale catalog—an important sales tool for selling to stores. It took me a while to figure out exactly what my catalog needed to be—there isn’t really an equivalent in fine art and it was a new idea to wrap my head around. I did a lot of research and found that as I met other people in the stationery industry, business owners were generous in letting me look at their catalogs to get a sense for what the range of formats are. One of the biggest hurdles was product photography—that took a lot of practice but I found that once I got the hang of it I realized I enjoy styling photos with props and assembling them into a kind of story about the cards I make and who they’re for. I made an online version for 2015 using a software program called Issue, and my 2016 catalog will have a printed version as well.

How are you preparing for your first trade show?

Oh my goodness, there’s so much to do! I’m having a blast, though. It’s such a fun project to design a booth and think about how my collection will look to retailers. I visited the National Stationery Show in 2015 to get a sense for what the booths look like. Last fall I attended Trade Show Boot Camp, a workshop put on by a group of people who’ve had success building wholesale businesses and exhibiting at trade shows in stationery and gift industries, and I’m so glad I did. I got a lot of great info there about pre- and post-show publicity and the mechanics of selling wholesale. I also love being a part of a community of alumni, who have been so helpful and generous about sharing information. The culture of stationery is so different from the art world that way!

Having experience showing my work in galleries helps a lot, and especially working in sculpture. I’ve had a lot of practice building installations and hanging work for display. But the exciting thing about the National Stationery Show is that instead of putting a ton of effort into a show that happens only once, the work I’m doing now will be the beginning of a yearly cycle of exhibiting at the show, forming relationships with retailers who I’ll see the next year when I exhibit again with new designs and products. I love that wholesale is really about relationships—and I love getting to know store owners and understanding what’s important to them. I never thought before about how owning a store is such a creative thing, and many of the people I’ve met so far have interesting stories and invest a lot of meaning into the curating they do for their shops.

What’s the most valuable lesson you’ve learned from managing all your projects?

Patience. Now that I’ve found my life’s work, I want to do everything all at once! But I’m grateful that I’ve been able to develop Heartell slowly. Everyone makes mistakes at the beginning and I’ve been learning by trying different things and refining what I’m doing as I go. I took a lot of time designing my first collection—some of those designs I have re-carved five or six times —and it was a long process to find the right combination of paper and ink and printing method and packaging to fit my vision. I feel very clear now about what Heartell is all about, what the visual style and color palette are as well as the tone and the content of the messages. It makes all the other decisions I have to make easier that I have a strong gauge for what is and isn’t consistent with the project and the brand.

Where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

I just got back from an amazing trip to California, and it was so inspiring! We started in LA and drove up the coast to Big Sur and then San Francisco, and I ended the week in Sonoma at a workshop my nonprofit hosted (we teach a style of community-based oral songleading to musicians so it was a fun workshop with lots of singing). Some of my favorite stops were the Huntington Library and Museum in LA, Pfeiffer Beach in Big Sur, and walking up Bernal Hill in San Francisco. I have a list of new California-inspired ideas for new cards, so look for those in the coming months!

Working on Heartell Press is the most satisfying iteration of my art practice that I’ve ever had...I like the relational aspect of stationery– it feels good to be able to make things that are useful to people in an immediate, emotional way.
— Rachel Kroh
Rachel Kroh

Rachel Kroh


Are you inspired by Rachel, too? Do you need help fulfilling your professional goals as a visual or performing artist, or creative entrepreneur? That is our specialty: helping you to identify your goals, clarifying a manageable plan, and helping you to create the tools you need to communicate your work to the world in a beautiful, compelling way. The best thing to do is email us and let us know who you are and what your goals are and we'll set up a time to talk for 20 minutes. There's nothing to lose!

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Sharon R. Reaves

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces.

Today we're excited to be speaking with Sharon R. Reaves of Reaves Projects. She delivers websites with a clean design aesthetic that are easy and affordable to maintain. Sharon first became interested in design out of necessity after opening her first business as an artist consultant (Starting-Artists) in 2005. By 2007, they had transformed into a retail art gallery (Reaves Gallery). In addition to design, she manages a private contemporary art collection. She is an independent curator, art consultant, collector and frequent juror for national and international art competitions and film festivals. She maintains several blogs and recently self-published her first book of poetry. 

Thanks, Sharon, for sharing your path with us!

Sharon R. Reaves

Sharon R. Reaves

Can you describe your path in the creative industry – from where and when you began, until now?

The short answer is by accident and necessity. I started collecting art in 2000 and in 2005 I curated my first art show, which evolved into my first company, Starting-Artists. I like to say I did “pop-ups” before pop-ups were cool working one-on-one with artists on pricing, marketing and installation – the complete exhibition experience as a training ground for them to understand consignment, sales and self-promotion. My “day job” at the time was in finance but as the demands of my company grew along with my passion, I decided to invest in myself and pursue art full-time.

I took on various consulting projects but during an interview for a marketing position with an established gallery, I saw an opportunity to give my artists a permanent home and I took it. I didn’t get the job but instead talked my way into a business partnership co-managing a storefront gallery in the Castro (San Francisco). I honestly had no clue what I was doing but drew from past experience in finance, event planning, marketing and the entrepreneurial DIY approach gained from my time at a software start-up.

During all of the twists and turns, the two questions I ask myself are does this make me happy and am I adding value?
— Sharon R. Reaves

I created my first website in 2007 using GoDaddy’s web builder. It was very basic bordering on cumbersome. As luck would have it my initial business partnership was short-lived and two new partners intervened, one of which happened to be a graphic designer. Together we created (or I should say re-created) the brand for the gallery. He taught me Photoshop so I could design my own marketing materials and I gave our website an overhaul transitioning to iWeb. I loved having the ability to make changes as often as I wanted without relying on anyone else.

I remember early mornings waking up at 3am with an idea for future exhibitions that I just had to draft out in Photoshop or an idea for how to improve the site. There was something very Zen about those early mornings. It was my most productive and focused time and one that made me very happy. I also used these newfound skills to help my artists, friends and colleagues, learning the newest Content Management Systems as they became available.

Fast forward to 2009, the gallery closed along with many others affected by the economic collapse. I made the decision that if I had to start over I would do it in New York. I rented a car and my dog, Ella, and I arrived in New York with $200 and my cousin’s couch as a launching pad. I revisited finance for a brief stint before finding a job managing a private contemporary art collection all the while continuing my side projects.

During all of the twists and turns, the two questions I ask myself are does this make me happy and am I adding value? I believe design is a composite of my past experience and fulfills both of these goals. It allows me to be creative, curate in some form or fashion, consult with small business owners and act as their cheerleader. I see each project as a little blessing - both to them and to me - and for this I am very grateful!

Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?

I never thought I’d say this but I have become an early to bed, early to rise type. I don’t set an alarm and naturally wake up between 5:00 – 6:30am. I grab my coffee and my laptop and climb back into bed to check in on activity that occurred over night as my clients are scattered globally. After a few hours, I hit the gym for a quick run, take the dogs to play in the park for an hour and am in the office by 11am.

Office time is divided between projects and administration, which includes: emails, new business development, accounting and client support. I leave the office at 6pm checking in from home if necessary. The next few hours are all about relaxing with the pups, making something edible and an hour of Netflix or a book before the early to bed part kicks in.

What is your favorite project that you've worked on?

There are so many great ideas and unknown worlds that I have access to: competitive jump rope teams, vintage vases, photographers who allow me to travel to places I may not otherwise have the opportunity, yoga and meditation teachers, writers, etc. But if I am honest my favorite project is my own website.

The quote, “At the moment of commitment, the universe conspires to assist you…” has appeared on my website since 2005. It is even the namesake for one of my dogs (Goethe). I had such a strong connection to my identity as “Sharon Reaves of Reaves Gallery” but when I asked myself what made me happy, it wasn’t curating art but curating content. Once I was able to let go of my ego, I gave myself permission to move forward. At that moment, I sat down with my laptop and Reaves Projects was launched. It was my commitment to “turning pro”, honoring my time and talents and giving gratitude for the people who believed in me.

What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from managing all of your projects?

I love what I do and can get lost in it which typically works to my clients’ advantage. Recently I abandoned my notepad scribble and migrated to online tools to track my time like Toggl.com and 17 Hats. It’s startling to realize how much time I was giving away. It helps me to provide more realistic quotes and 17 Hats includes an ongoing To-Do list, contacts and templates for invoices, quotes and contracts. It even integrates with PayPal. It’s become my portable personal assistant.

I would also add that regardless of how much work needs to be done, I always put “me time” on the calendar. My morning dog walk and gym time not only make me more productive and focused but nicer to deal with. If I don’t take care of me, I have nothing to give to others.

...the most valuable asset that sets your product or services apart from someone else is you.
— Sharon R. Reaves

What advice do you often find yourself giving to the clients that you work with?

Your website is not going to make clients magically appear. Google can only do so much and social media is a great tool but don’t forget the actual being social part. You have to take charge of your in-person presence as well. Network. Meet people. Talk about what you do. Ask questions. Join groups. Take classes. You never know where your next lead or client will come from and for most people the most valuable asset that sets your product or services apart from someone else is you.

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

Go ahead and laugh but I have a favorite rock in Central Park. If the weather is nice, I go there to clear my head. I can sit there for hours watching bikes whir past, couples holding hands, kids squealing with excitement, dogs pulling on leashes. It’s a nice reset from the attachment to my laptop. I do a walking meditation along the reservoir on my way to the office in the morning. Nature feeds my soul and energizes me.

I also need the yoga mat for a reset. Somehow everything seems less important when you look at it from a perspective of standing on your head.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Justine Clay

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces.

Justine Clay of Pitch Perfect

Justine Clay of Pitch Perfect

Today we're excited to be speaking with Justine Clay, who has been helping freelance creative talent build thriving careers for more than 15 years. She began her career in creative representation and, as the principal of Plum Creative, built a track record of making the perfect match between independent creative professionals and clients in the fashion and lifestyle industries.
In 2010 Justine launched her coaching business, Pitch Perfect. Working with creative professionals and entrepreneurs of all stripes, Justine helps her clients build a thriving and fulfilling business through one-on-one coaching, workshops and talks.  Follow Justine on Facebook and Twitter.

Thanks for sharing your path with us, Justine!


Can you describe your path in the creative industry—from where and when you began, until now?

I’ve always been creatively inclined, including ballet from the age of 3 and playing the flute, but I never planned on pursuing a creative career. My path into the creative industry happened by chance when I moved from London to New York almost 20 years ago. I landed my first job answering the phone in a design agency. I’m not kidding when I say the only thing that qualified me for the position was my English accent! I grabbed the opportunity and worked my way up to studio manager. From there, I was hired by an up and coming creative representation agency, where I learned every aspect of managing creative projects, from spotting great creative talent, to developing new business opportunities and managing projects.

In 2005, I branched out and opened my own creative services agency, Plum Creative, where I built a reputation within the advertising and design industries for working with the best creative talent, helping clients find the perfect person for their project’s needs, and managing the process from beginning to end. Business was good.

And then the recession struck.

All of a sudden advertising budgets were slashed and, almost overnight, our work all but dried up. I was always a big believer in being proactive—pitching an idea to a client for a campaign or picking up the phone and doing the cold call—but there just wasn’t the work.

At the same time, freelancers who had been laid off were beating a path to my door in droves looking for representation. While I didn’t have work for them, I realized that I had a wealth of knowledge and practical experience that I could share about how to position themselves more effectively to their ideal clients and that there was a definite need for it. 

And so I went on a mission to learn how to build and market and entirely new business. I took courses, read books, joined networking groups and joined a coaching program. Then I locked myself in a room and put everything I learned, along with everything I knew from 15+ years working in small businesses in the creative industry and I created a step-by-step program that I could teach to anyone.

Today I work with a range of creative entrepreneurs—from photographers and graphic designers to artisanal brands. Through our work together, my clients learn how to define and own what makes them unique and create a marketing message and strategy that draws their ideal clients to them. As a result, they gain the clarity and confidence they need to take decisive action and implement the steps that will help them achieve their goals. 

Take consistent action every single day and you WILL achieve what you set out to do.

Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?

I start my week with a one-hour Skype call with my accountability group, which consists of me and three other entrepreneurs. We use this time to review what goals we achieved in the past week, how we are doing with our 90-day goal, offer support and resources to one another and declare our intentions for the following week. I (half-jokingly) say that the only reason I get anything done at all is because I told my accountability group I would!  My weeks are pretty structured. I have a 3 ½ year old and baby on the way, so I’ve learned to really maximize the hours of 9.30 a.m.—4.30 p.m.  Funnily enough, I get at least the same amount, if not more, done than I did with all the time in the world to spend at work. I bundle my one-on-one coaching sessions to take place on 3 days of the week. On those days, I’m all about my clients and being there for them. On the other 2 days I primarily take care of my marketing and content development. Right now that includes a newsletter I send out every 2 weeks, social media and developing an on-line course I’m planning on launching this fall, tentatively titled Market and Grow Your Creative Business. I’m really excited about being able to help people beyond my current one-on-one set up and give more creatives the tools they need to thrive.

I always tell my clients that part of being an entrepreneur is being uncomfortable 95% of the time, so I love any project that scares me.

What is your favorite project that you've worked on?

I always tell my clients that part of being an entrepreneur is being uncomfortable 95% of the time, so I love any project that scares me. Whether it’s creating the on-line course I mentioned, or my video series on how to get more clients (which is free when people sign up for my newsletter here), I enjoy the challenge of figuring out what I need to do, who I need to help me make it happen, and getting it done, step by small step. There’s such a sense of achievement when you get it done. It’s kind of a high!

What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from working with all the clients you’ve worked with?

That we all have a unique gift to bring to the world, and that talent has the power to transform the lives of others. I’m absolutely convinced that when we define what that gift is, identify who has a genuine need for that gift and dedicate our business to serving those people, the sky is the limit.

What advice do you often find yourself giving to the clients that you work with?

·       Don’t compare your progress by others’ around you. You have no idea what it took or cost them to get to where they are.

·       Get support and form an accountability group.

·       Align with your unique gift and everything else will follow.

·       Define your goals and ask yourself often “is what I’m doing moving me measurably closer to my goal?” If the answer is “No” stop what you’re doing and get back on track.

·       Take consistent action every single day and you WILL achieve what you set out to do.

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

We recently moved to South Orange, New Jersey and we have the most beautiful outdoor town pool. Swimming is great for clearing my head and letting ideas flow. The beach and nature do the trick beautifully too!


Read more DELVE Interviews here that highlight the paths of amazing artists and creative professionals.


© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE INTERVIEW: LIZ ROBB

We had the pleasure of working with San Francisco artist Liz Robb through our DELVE Toolkit. She recently was awarded a residency in Iceland for later in the year, and we wanted to make sure we caught up with her to see what else is going on and how the 1:1 DELVE Toolkit helped her practice.

A studio shot of some works in progress

A studio shot of some works in progress

Can you briefly describe your path as an artist and how you came to seek out the DELVE Toolkit? 

Moving to San Francisco was really the catalyst for starting my career as an artist.  I had previously created a body of work that I was proud of and my next steps were navigating through the business side of my work that came less naturally.  After about six months of running my business on my own, I needed help with time management, writing, and applying to artist residencies and call for entries.  I wanted a neutral opinion on my appearance as an artist outside of the feedback I received in school and via friends and family, which is why the toolkit was a good fit for my new business!

Can you describe a day, or week, in your artistic life?

I’m consistently changing and adapting the time and ways I work in my studio, and being accountable for every minute!  Thankfully my schedule is very flexible and I’m able to focus on my studio first and foremost, which I feel very fortunate to do. 

A new weaving, work in progress.

A new weaving, work in progress.

I work in my studio five days a week, generally during daylight hours.  I start my day by writing in my sketchbook some ideas or things I’d like to accomplish for the week/month and then break them down into actionable tasks that I do on my day to day.  Everyday is unique in what I do in my studio like whether I’ll research types of new materials or actually start dyeing or weaving something new.

I also work part-time as a gourmet food delivery woman as well as a Lyft driver, which supplements my income so I’m able to sustain my studio practice as well as travel for inspiration! 

What is your favorite project that you've worked on (and/or are currently excited about/looking forward to working on)?

I’m currently working on a series of white on white grids that complete different configurations within a space.  I’m also experimenting with new materials like copper foil to create different surface textures that I’m jazzed about.  More to come!

Can you share what you've learned about your practice and how we've helped you?

I learned to be more accountable for my time on a daily, weekly, monthly, and even yearly basis, which has continued to help me further understand where I want to go and how I can realistically get there. I have been re-reading my notes and aspirations from my time critically thinking and talking about my practice, which has been extremely helpful.  It was difficult talking about my goals and myself as a singular artist, and now I feel more confident that this can continue to be a reality for me.

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

I like to go on hikes and stroll with the pup, and am also an avid traveler, so it is a treat when I can explore far off lands and be completely immersed in a new space and time! I’m very excited to travel around Iceland for my textile residency this fall!

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Katrina Neumann

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces.

Katrina Neumann

Katrina Neumann

Today we're excited to be speaking with visual artist Katrina Neumann. For Katrina, the idea comes before the medium and long-term project. Her post-studio practice sways in between disciplines that deals with Romanticism. Her critique of ecological issues critically turn the focus back onto the need to keep fighting for the preservation of our environment in the light of current events. By utilizing Disaster Relief Volunteering as field research, Neumann reflects on the loss of space, the destruction of environment, urban civilization, and the temporal all while toying with the ideology of time and the effects of technology.

She received her B.F.A from SUNY Purchase College and her M.F.A from SMFA and Tufts University. Her work has been featured in the juried-in-print exhibition New American Paintings, Radio Context, WNYC, Whurk Magazine and Berlin Art-Parasites. Her curatorial work has been reviewed in ArtNews. She is affiliated with Flux Factory, Elsewhere Museum, CAC Woodside, LMCC, Creative Capital, Artist Alliance Inc. and All Hands Volunteer.

Katrina is also the Founder and Chief Editor of Rate My Artist Residency. This growing resource  provides a platform for artists to socially and critically engage in conversation about artist residencies worldwide. The website has been featured in ArtFCity, BlouinArtInfo, Artspace, China Residencies, CMagazine, Mapping Residencies, and NYArts Magazine.

Help her go to Madrid and keep providing artists with amazing information by donating to her Kickstarter!! 


Can you describe your path in the creative industry – from where and when you began, until now?

I really began considering a career in the arts during my sophomore year. I entered college as theater major with a concentration in acting and later came to the bittersweet realization that I was not a triple threat (I couldn’t sing or dance too well). So, I changed my major to a BFA in art with a concentration in graphic design. Simultaneously I was taking a painting course with Melissa Kuntz. I remember being the only one staying up late at night to work on my paintings. Melissa realized my ambition before I did and encouraged me to find a real art school. I was accepted to SUNY Purchase College where I received my BFA in Painting and Drawing and a minor in art history.

Today, I have a MFA from School of the Museum of Fine Arts and Tufts University. I currently work full-time in Chelsea at a gallery as a graphic designer and recently organized the upcoming solo exhibition by Pablo Helguera.

In all other hours, I am a visual artist with a studio and post-studio practice where I work out of my bedroom or rely on studio programs like Artist Alliance Inc.’s LES Studio Program which provides free studio space in the city for several months.

If that weren’t enough, in 2013, I founded the website Rate My Artist Residency where I am the chief editor and website administrator. This website has many aspects ingrained in the design. Primarily, it is a resource for artists to socially and critically engage about artist residencies world wide – both finding out about new ones and rating their experience per each residency. Last year, we just launched a fundraising effort, the Artists Helping Artists Grant, to provide artists that demonstrate financial need with an unrestricted grant to be able to attend a residency they have been accepted to in 2015. We also assist new or under recognized residencies with a platform to be seen without the need for membership fees, which has been the long-standing model of other residency websites. And, if people have time, they can find out how to apply for residencies to other residency listing sites to upcoming deadlines on the site.

Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?

A day usually consists of getting up around 7am, eating a decent breakfast with delicious coffee. I make it to the gallery around 10am and do a multitude of jobs to prepare for the upcoming show or upcoming client visits. Around 6pm, I make it a rule to leave work at the door. By 7pm I’m at home and cooking a quick meal then I dive back into working on either Rate My Artist Residency or my studio practice until 11 or 12. I work a lot, usually pulling in about 16 hour days to keep up with every aspect of my working life. I recently had to tell my roommates not to worry, “it’s not you, it’s me.”

In a week, I try to schedule my time wisely. My goals are to try to make it to at least one yoga class in the week, try and see friends when I can, try to not overbook my time, and try to get done what I need to, though, I know it’s tough. I work from Tuesday through Saturday, 10am to 6pm and Sunday is designated to working on Rate My Artist Residency and Monday is a designated studio day.

What is your favorite project that you've worked on?

In the gallery, my favorite project is definitely this upcoming exhibition by Pablo Helguera because I love taking on leadership roles when given the chance. It’s been a tough exhibition to prepare for because of the nuance of installations, works coming from all over the country, and the performative elements involved in two of the installation rooms. I believe the reward will be well worth the hard work for this show.

As a visual artist, my favorite project has been collaborating with musicians, Rose Hashimoto, James Waldo, Beth Wenstrom, and Karen Dekker on der Sonnenaufgang Quarte(T)ours. At 4 in the morning, I invite a small group of participants to meet me in a secret location in the city and I would take them to an ideal setting to watch the sunset. The musicians, a string quartet, would be waiting for the participants at the site. I set up a pre-selected catered breakfast on a picnic blanket as we watch the city lights slowly turn off. The musicians begin playing Haydn’s “Sunrise Quartet” about 15 minutes before the sun rises. It turns out to be a really beautiful moment while the city is still sleeping or just barely waking up. I love cultivating experience in this way as my art practice. So far, we have played on Roosevelt Island and then convinced the cops not to kick us off of the Brooklyn Bridge one morning. We hope to do more tours this upcoming summer – keep posted on sunrisetoursnyc.com.

Image from Katrina Neumann's  der Sonnenaufgang Tours (after Friedrich)

Image from Katrina Neumann's der Sonnenaufgang Tours (after Friedrich)

For Rate My Artist Residency, the chance to give out three grants to artists in financial need was definitely the highlight of the program so far. Once, I had an angel donor contribute a secret grant to me during grad school at SMFA in a time, as an artist, when I was desperate for the money and couldn’t ask my parents for help. This donor’s help to me really inspired me to want to be like them and help artists one day the way I was helped in a time of need. Also, sometimes residencies are unreasonably expensive for an artist, which creates a class and financial barrier to most – I want to break that wall.

One of my own philosophies is, “You have to do it because no one else is going to do it for you.
— -Katrina Neumann

What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from managing all of your projects?

I suppose forgiveness to yourself and knowing that there are really only so many hours in each week that you can feasibly accomplish something. What is most important is that you just show up, and do everything you can, while you still can do it.

What advice do you often find yourself giving to the artists that you work with?

One piece of advice that I received was from an artist that I worked for on and off for several years, Franklin Evans, whom recently reinstated, “You have to work. Work. Work. Work. And work hard. And then keep working.”

Another one that I like to tell artists is one that I received from my art/life mentor, Dannielle Tegeder, where she keeps asking what I am applying to and then adds ten or twenty other things to apply to on my list. I tend to do the same thing with friends and colleagues because of Dannielle’s constant support.

One of my own philosophies is, “You have to do it because no one else is going to do it for you.”

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

Somehow, I am really inspired by Florida. It is strange to think or say that, but the state itself is truly bizarre and fascinating. It’s full of some of the ugliest parts in the United States like Trayvon Martin, or the man who was a bath salt zombie, and a bunch of awful sinkholes, or Jeb Bush, the housing crisis, and dilapidated strip malls – it is very American this way, all the bad sides, the real sides and surrounded by some of the most sublime landscapes and light. The state is not apart of the south, though geographically it is considered to be, and the people there are mixed politically and diversely. Some of my best work came from there when I was unemployed after grad school and living with my father – boredom breeds creativity.


© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Susannah Bohlke

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces.

**Join us for our next DELVE: Comedy + Art event on Tuesday, Feburary 3rd at Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Get tickets here!**

Susannah Bohlke

Susannah Bohlke

Today we're excited to be speaking with Susannah Bohlke, a Nebraska-born, Brooklyn-based comedy writer. She is a writer for the PITtv house team Waterbirth, producing videos on a monthly basis for the PIT’s online video channel. She has also written and performed with the all-female sketch team Doctors Quinn, Medicine Women and the Mutual Appreciation Society at the People’s Improv Theatre. Videos she’s written have been featured on Jezebel.com, The Daily Dot, Cheezburger.com’s Fail Blog, Serial Optimist, Yahoo Screen, Right This Minute and more. She lives with her cat, Wizard.

 

Thank you, Susannah, for sharing your story with us!


Can you describe your path in the creative industry – from where and when you began, until now?

My path looks something like a google maps search history from a scavenger hunt. A little indirect, but still enjoyable.

Growing up, I was always involved in creative activities. I think I first got the bug when my story “The Christmas Kitten” was published in the town newspaper when I was seven (you’ll never guess what it’s about). When I was in junior high and high school I did a lot of theatre and my friends and I were huge fans of making videos for class assignments. They weren’t always on point and usually involved a mannequin and Bob Saget, but I like to think we got bonus points for our creativity.

I studied literature in college and after graduating and holding a few odd jobs, I ended up working as a grant writer for the nonprofit gallery Storefront for Art and Architecture. This lead to a crash course in non-profit management, development, and arts administration and I’ve continued to work in that field since.

During my 20s, I worked with a lot of artists and design professionals, but I had been putting my own creative aspirations on the back burner. Actually, the back burner still gets a little heat: my creative work was essentially in a locked walk-in freezer at a Sizzler closed for health violations. I’d see things and think, I could do that!, but then a raspy voice that sounded like a cross between a parrot and that competitive friend you keep thinking of unfriending kept taunting “Yeah right!”

Finally, in the peak of my upper-mid-late 20s, I defrosted the freezer and started taking classes in writing and illustration. The derisive voice had developed laryngitis. I took a children’s book writing class at the School of Visual Arts and also took the sketch writing program at the People’s Improv Theatre (The PIT). I continued to write and perform with groups of friends and then I was placed as a writer on the PITtv team Waterbirth, producing monthly videos for the theatre’s online video channel.

I’ve continued to take classes and work on creative projects, but I still balance it with my full-time professional job. Luckily, I work in an office where no one bats an eyelash if I have a disassembled mannequin behind my desk leftover from a video shoot.

Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?

I work full-time, so adding in opportunities for creative work has forced me to crack the whip on my schedule. But as much as I’m the merciless gym teacher with a monogrammed brass whistle expecting my calendar to do 500 squats without its inhaler, I also have to turn my hat and be the cool substitute who tells jokes during Algebra. That is to say, I have a strict schedule, but creativity requires unstructured time. I’ve found ways to use small windows during my work week. My daily subway ride can be a brainstorming session or a chance to wrap-up drafts. It’s amazing what can be accomplished during your lunch break!

After work (and a really productive lunch hour), my night might include a writer’s meeting, a class, or time for writing. I like to reserve at least five hours over my weekends for uninterrupted work blocks, but sometimes that block becomes a twelve hour video shoot. I also keep a calendar placeholder for a quarterly “personal board meeting” where I put on a blazer and look deeply into the soul of my many unfinished projects. This is when I prioritize, cut, and make plans about projects over a longer timeline.

Share your work... It’s really easy to get stuck in the private hall of mirrors of an idea, only reflecting back on yourself, about yourself, with yourself. Invite people in! Perspective is an amazing thing.
— Susannah Bohlke

What is your favorite project that you've worked on?

Tough question! I once photoshopped and hand-crafted twenty imitation Yogi tea boxes for a video sketch. My favorite moment in a project is where you cross the brink from what is necessary and you’re into what is special. All of those fake tea boxes have the same lining as the real Yogi tea boxes, but I don’t think you can ever see that in the final edit.

What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from managing all of your projects?

Share your work. I have so many half-baked projects that I’ve barely shared. But when I started sketch writing, I learned that it is a collaborative process where sharing is essential. It’s really easy to get stuck in the private hall of mirrors of an idea, only reflecting back on yourself, about yourself, with yourself. Invite people in! Perspective is an amazing thing.

Share the work. What you do with the help or input of other people will almost always be better than what you do on your own. Collaborating and working with other people is really important.

Don’t be precious about your ideas. Even if your idea is so perfect and shiny and amazing that it can turn blenders into hummer limos, it might need to be cut. No idea is more powerful than the red pen. Editing is your friend. Embrace it.

What advice do you often find yourself giving to the artists that you work with?

Don’t be precious. See above.

Drink as your pour. (I don’t remember where I first came upon that phrase and an internet search only lead me to a cocktail recipe!). It’s easy to overextend yourself and put your all into a project, but it’s just as important to nurture yourself.

Play your hand. You don’t decide what you’re dealt, but use what you have and get in the game. (The character Douglas Wambaugh from Picket Fences said something along those lines in an episode, so I always hear this in the voice of Fyvush Finkel.)

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

Google image search!

I also love looking at lists. From researching horse breeds to colonial ailments, you’ll find something inspiring. My favorite: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_lists_of_lists

Away from my desk: I don’t travel as much as I would like to, but I’ve had some pretty illuminating moments at airport bars.

 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Dawn Luebbe

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces.

**Join us for our next DELVE: Comedy + Art event on Feburary 3rd at Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Get tickets here!**

Today we're excited to be speaking with Dawn Luebbe, an actor and comedian who recently moved to LA after 15 years in NYC. She is a regular performer at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre and has performed with sketch group Onassis at comedy festivals around the country including: San Francisco Sketchfest, Austin Out of Bounds, and New York Comedy Festival. She has appeared in comedy shorts for IFC, CollegeHumor, NickMom, and UCBComedy. Her first book, My 1992 Diary, will be published by Abrams in March of 2015. Dawn holds a BFA from NYU Tisch School of the Arts.

We can't recommend My 1992 Diary enough. It is the perfect medicine for a bad day, or any day, really. Thanks for sharing with us, Dawn!


Actor and Comedian,  Dawn Luebbe

Actor and Comedian, Dawn Luebbe

Can you describe your path in the creative industry – from where and when you began, until now?

My foray into acting began as a preteen giantess in Nebraska. Over six feet tall and the lankiest girl in town, I was quickly cast as a variety of bird roles in our local children's theatre. From the goose in Charlotte's Web to Owl in House at Pooh Corner to the title role in Henny Penny, I really spread my wings (sorry, I couldn't resist). By the time I left Lincoln and ended up at NYU, I had only played a handful of humans, so I decided it was time to delve into serious method acting at the Lee Strasberg Institute.  After towering over my scene partners in Ibsen and Shakespeare scenes and being greeted with laughter at my portrayal of Antigone, I realized perhaps I should turn to comedy.

Around this time I was cast as a gawky bridesmaid in the Off-Broadway show Tony n' Tina's Wedding and started taking classes at Upright Citizens Brigade. For the first time, I felt totally in my element. I fell in love with improv and the ability to create characters and stories on the spot and change your behavior based on your scene partners and the audience. In both of these places I really started playing with physical comedy as well - which is still one of my favorite forms of comedy.

In 2011, I became a member of the UCB house sketch team, Onassis, with whom I still write and perform today both at UCB and elsewhere. Being a part of this sketch team has been incredibly fulfilling and allowed me to focus on what I personally am amused by and make it come to life. I love collaborating with other comedians and am lucky to have found a group of people with a similar, experimental, unique voice.

In the last year I have become more interested in comedy writing - both in sketch form and essay and storytelling forms. I started a blog in 2014, My 1992 Diary, where I posted my preteen diaries which quickly blew-up and ended up getting a book deal with Abrams coming March 24th. So the last half of 2014 was pretty much dedicated to working on the book, a previously unknown form to me which I ended up finding very fulfilling.

Who knows what the next few years will have in store? For success in comedy and acting and writing, luck and preparation seem to be the main ingredients, so all I can do is to keep working and trying new things that amuse me and hopefully something will stick.

For success in comedy and acting and writing, luck and preparation seem to be the main ingredients, so all I can do is to keep working and trying new things that amuse me and hopefully something will stick.
— Dawn Luebbe, actor and comedian

Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?

Every week is different depending on what projects I am working on. This week I am working on some promo videos for my book with an animator. I'm working on some pitches for Nickelodeon with my writing partner, Susannah Bohlke, and I'm preparing for a sketch show on Friday with my sketch group, Onassis at UCB (LA-Franklin). Additionally, I'm shooting a sketch for College Humor this weekend. I also discovered Trader Joe's Mediterranean hummus this week, which was maybe my biggest accomplishment.

What is your favorite project that you've worked on?

I just worked on a web series for IFC's Comedy Crib with UCB Comedy that is coming out soon. It's called "Rage" and in each episode I basically go into an angry rage over those small things in life (in NYC, in particular) that drive you crazy but you can never do anything about. It was written by Melinda Taub and directed by Julie Gomez, both of whom I think are so talented and awesome. It was so fun and exhausting to make and I am really proud of the product.

What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from managing all of your projects?

I guess it's that you can never predict how or if something will hit. I've worked on sketches that I felt so solid about and they went over horribly and other sketches that I thought were pretty mediocre have gotten huge laughs.

Also, as I've gotten older, I try not to say yes to every single opportunity that comes along. I first ask myself if this is something that I think is funny. Is this something that I care about and that shows me at my best? And if the answer is no, I move on to something more inspiring.

What advice do you often find yourself giving to the artists that you work with?

Try and do things that are thoroughly "you." How can you tell this story or portray this character with your influence instead of someone else's?

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

Dairy Queen. I love it so much.

 

**Explore and meet other chartists and creatives on February 3rd! Join us for our next DELVE: Comedy + Art event at Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Get tickets here!**

 

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Isissa Komada-John

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces. Join us for our next DELVE: Comedy + Art event on Feburary 3rd at Made in NY Media Center by IFP in Dumbo, Brooklyn. Get tickets here!

Today we're excited to be speaking with Isissa Komada-John, the Exhibitions Director at the Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts (MoCADA). Isissa has curated and organized over fifteen exhibitions, including ARE YOU YOU, PIXELATING: Black in New Dimensions, and Pattern Recognition, reviewed in The Huffington Post, ARTINFO, Daily Serving, and other publications. A multidisciplinary curator, designer and writer, her practice focuses on building a bridge between curatorial work and interior design to create innovative spaces for dialogue and social change. Isissa holds a degree in Africana Studies from Brown University, and has completed coursework in Interior Design at Parsons the New School for Design. When she’s not creating spaces, Isissa spends her time reading tarot cards, cooking for friends, learning about the stars, and riding her bicycle around her neighborhood. A native New Yorker, she currently lives in Bed Stuy, Brooklyn.

Thanks, Isissa, for sharing your thoughts with us!


Isissa Komada-John, photography by  Jovan Julien

Isissa Komada-John, photography by Jovan Julien

Can you describe your path in the creative industry – from where and when you began, until now?

I actually never thought I would work in the arts, despite coming from a family of architects, designers and makers, and always loving learning in creative contexts. As a kid, I would redecorate my bedroom each summer when school was out, and in college, friends would ask me for advice on how to spruce up their dorm rooms. Seeing the world as full of spaces and opportunities to make things beautiful has always been a part of me, but it wasn’t until interning at MoCADA (Museum of Contemporary African Diasporan Arts), and meeting creatives who were turning their mix of passions and talents into careers, that I realized that I too was an artist, and that I could use my eye to have an impact on people’s lives and my community. At Brown University I concentrated in Africana Studies, with a focus on how contemporary Black artists use creative expression as a tool for community transformation. With this background, I was drawn to MoCADA, but I never would have guessed that I would find myself growing with the institution on the curatorial side of the museum. Looking back it makes perfect sense. I spent a couple of years taking courses in interior design at Parsons The New School for Design, and establishing the link between my curatorial work and my love for creating inspiring home and community spaces. In the last few years, I’ve focused on building a freelance practice where I can work collaboratively with other artists and creatives on curatorial projects, and as an interior, graphic and production designer. As 2015 begins, I’m excited to see what creative opportunities find me next.

I encourage the artists I work with to think beyond the narrow confines of the art world, and consider creative ways to bring their work into the streets, public spaces and local businesses of our communities. As an artist, how can your work bring you money and resources, and also be in service of strengthening our neighborhoods?
— Isissa Komada-John

Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?

I love having my hands in a number of projects, because it means that from week to week, my professional life can look really different. I spend my days at MoCADA’s Fort Greene, Brooklyn office, collaborating with amazing co-workers, planning exhibitions and programs,  communicating with artists about upcoming shows, and hosting evening artist talks and public events in the gallery. One week, most of my work may take place at my desk, and the next, I’m working hands-on in the gallery installing exhibitions, or out doing studio visits with artists. In the evenings and on weekends, I may be vintage shopping for an interior design project, on set working on a film, or spending time at a cafe planning a new artistic adventure.

ARE YOU YOU exhibition at MoCADA by  artist Shantell Martin , photograph by  Roy Rochlin

ARE YOU YOU exhibition at MoCADA by artist Shantell Martin, photograph by Roy Rochlin


What is your favorite project that you've worked on?

Picking a favorite project is tough, because there’s something in every project that I love, but it was such a blast working with artist Shantell Martin on MoCADA’s spring 2014 exhibition, ARE YOU YOU. At MoCADA, our shows use the work of contemporary visual artists to spark thought and dialogue on pressing social and political issues facing Africa, the Diaspora and the world. ARE YOU YOU took a more personal approach to this mission, and placed viewers at the center of Shantell’s world of playful improvisation, whimsical characters and dancing lines, all inviting folks to enter a space of self reflection and honesty. Rather than talking about what’s going on out there, in curating ARE YOU YOU, I was interested in asking us all what was going on within ourselves. The show was organized around the question: Are you being yourself every day, no matter what? We had such fun bringing the exhibition to life with drawing workshops, yoga classes, cooking demonstrations and discussions in the gallery, and the show burst open the expectations around what can and can’t happen at a museum. ARE YOU YOU asked us all to think like artists, and in a broader sense, offered this as an important element in our collective project of creating a more just and equal world. Shantell’s authentic and creative spirit was infectious, and in working with her, I found myself opening up more in my own creative life, taking more risks and trying new things.

ARE YOU YOU exhibition at MoCADA by   artist Shantell Martin , photo by  Steven Harris

ARE YOU YOU exhibition at MoCADA by artist Shantell Martin, photo by Steven Harris

What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from managing all of your projects?

The importance of developing flexible templates and strong workflow systems. With each project, I keep an eye on the process, where things are going smoothly, and what slows me down. I guess I’m kind of nerdy in that I get a kick out of designing templates for budgets, timelines and other organizational documents, and whether I’m doing production design for a short film, curating an exhibition or developing a visual identity for an organization, I don’t need to reinvent the wheel each time. This is especially helpful when starting a project that’s completely new for me — I have the security of knowing that I’ve got tools to draw from amidst all of the unknowns that come with trying something new. Last year, as I took on more freelance work, I created a funky color-coded spreadsheet to keep track of all of my current projects, as well as my ideas and inspiration for future projects. It has also turned out to be a great way to see a quick snapshot of my artistic life and where I’m headed. For anyone who works on multiple projects at once and has tons of ideas swirling around in their head, I really recommend trying it. It’s grounding and helps me to appreciate all of my opportunities.


What advice do you often find yourself giving to the artists that you work with?

I’m often asked by artists how to get their work out there. I think we’re living in a unique time when people are waking up to the reality that having an artist on their team is a tremendous asset. I encourage the artists I work with to think beyond the narrow confines of the art world,   and consider creative ways to bring their work into the streets, public spaces and local businesses of our communities. As an artist, how can your work bring you money and resources, and also be in service of strengthening our neighborhoods? Can you team up with a small business to help them create a more engaging storefront? Does the community garden up the block need help beautifying their planters? The opportunities are endless, but they may need to be created.

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

My couch. I’ve got everything I need in my apartment — Old family photos, a quirky collection of dishes, my favorite textiles, plants galore, Black feminist texts, vision boards, vintage lighting and art by my favorite visual artists.

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Amy Sande-Friedman

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces.

Today we're excited to be speaking with Amy Sande-Friedman, an art advisor and co-founder of Brooklyn Canvas, a new collaborative endeavor with artist Eliza Stamps that creates original, one-of-a-kind pieces that are handcrafted in Brooklyn.

Thanks, Amy, for sharing your insight and process with us!

Photo credit:  Victor G. Jeffreys II

Photo credit: Victor G. Jeffreys II

Amy Sande-Friedman advises new and seasoned collectors on the acquisition and sale of Contemporary art by both established and emerging artists. Relying on nearly fifteen of years of experience in the New York art world, she works with each client’s aesthetic and budget to source works of art with sustained value and to negotiate the best terms of sale. Amy helps new collectors learn to navigate the art market and establish their own tastes. Whether a client is looking to buy one piece or build a significant collection, Amy makes the process seamless, educational, and enjoyable. 

She also has recently announced a new collaboration with Brooklyn artist Eliza Stamps: Brooklyn Canvas (BKCV). Each BKCV painting is original, one-of-a-kind, handcrafted in Brooklyn, and designed collaboratively by Stamps and Sande-Friedman. BKCV offers modern, fresh, and varied designs for homes and businesses. Based on BKCV’s commitment to art that is accessible and easy to live with, they offer paintings that express individual taste at price points within reach. The paintings come ready to hang, with finished sides, and require no framing. In addition to its retail offerings, BKCV collaborates with clients and interior designers to create custom paintings in the perfect size, style, and palette. 

 

Can you describe your path in the creative industry – from where and when you began, until now?

My father loves art, and I had amazing exposure to making and seeing things all over the world when I was growing up, but it was when I was a sulky teenager that paintings began to fascinate me, and I decided that I wanted to work in the art world. I was so lucky to get my first job out of college at Sotheby’s, where a 22-year-old gets a fantastic education in the art market. Over the next 15 years, I got a PhD in the history of art and design and worked at a few Contemporary galleries and for an art advisor. I have worked for wonderful people who are passionate about art and taught me so much about the business of buying and selling. I launched my own art advisory practice, knowing not only about the market and history of art, but also with practical knowledge. If you need to hoist an enormous painting up the side of a New York apartment building to bring it in through a window, give me a call. 

Can you describe a day, or week, in your professional life?

I love working for myself because no two days are a like. An ideal week would include:

*Seeing amazing works of art that I’ve never seen before that I can’t get out of my mind.
*Finding the perfect home for a work of art that I love.
*Overseeing the installation of a painting that brings a client’s home to life.
*Opening a client’s eyes to how her life can be broadened by living with art.

What is your favorite project that you've worked on?

There are aspects of all of my projects that I love, but my first clients hold a soft spot in my heart. They are a young couple who came to me with no idea of what they wanted to buy. However, they knew how much money they had to spend and that they wanted to put it in something with an established resale value. Through our conversations and by looking at images together, we discovered that their tastes overlapped in 1960s celebrity/fashion photography, and we have since built a wonderful collection. I know it’s a success story, because they have told me about their daily interactions with the photographs. Living with this work has in some small way changed their lives. 

What's the most valuable lesson you've learned from managing all of your projects?

I naturally have good attention to detail, but being an art advisor demands constant vigilance and wrangling. There are so many things that can go wrong between deciding you want a piece and hanging it on the wall. And, so many more if it needs to be framed or conserved or shipped from abroad!

What advice do you often find yourself giving to the artists that you work with?

The relationship between artists and patrons is as old as art itself. Artists need to start by feeling inspired and loving what they make, but there is nothing deleterious about seeking advice about the market. Because I believe that people’s lives are improved by living with art in their homes, I am grateful that artists make work that is intended for the domestic sphere. I love helping artists figure out how their big ideas can translate into readily sellable work.

And finally, where is one of your favorite places to go to be inspired?

I love the media-based art fairs like the IFPDA Print Fair and AIPAD (Association of International Photography Art Dealers). Because there is historical work mixed with Contemporary, you can learn so much about aesthetic and technical development over time. The dealers are incredibly knowledgeable and there are often piles of material that you can look through in addition to the installed work. I find nothing so inspiring as learning something new about art.  

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

DELVE Interview: Miska Draskoczy

Welcome to DELVE Interviews, a look into the unique paths of artistic and creative individuals. These conversations are a branch of our DELVE Workshops and Networking Events, where we celebrate and discover everyone's unique paths as artistic and creative forces. Join us for DELVE: Architecture + Art on Tuesday, December 9th at MEx in Brooklyn. Tickets here (before they sell out!)

Today we're excited to be speaking with Brooklyn-based photographer Miska Draskoczy. His photographic series, Gowanus Wild, is a wonderful project that we wanted to explore a bit deeper as we think about the intersection between architecture and art. 

Thanks, Miska, for sharing your insight and process with us!


Pilot House  by Miska Draskoczy, courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Pilot House by Miska Draskoczy, courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Miska Draskoczy, photo by Siri Kaur

Miska Draskoczy, photo by Siri Kaur

Miska Draskoczy fell in love with cameras at age 14 and has been behind them ever since. His photography has been widely exhibited in the US and abroad and is the recipient of numerous awards. His urban wilderness series, Gowanus Wild, has been exhibited as a solo show at the Vermont Center for Photography and Ground Floor Gallery in Brooklyn, NY as well as in group shows such as THE FENCE at PHOTOVILLE 2013. He was recently named a Photolucida Critical Mass finalist and his work has been featured in the press by The New Yorker's Photo Booth blog, Time Out, PDN, Gizmodo, Featureshoot, Hyperallergic, Brokelyn and many others.

 

What prompted starting the project Gowanus Wild?

I live on the border of Gowanus but more importantly (as a New Yorker with a car), it's where I park. Walking home at night I was always intrigued by how empty and eerie the streets are at night. At first I just wanted to capture the mood and see what the images would look like, but as I kept shooting I realized a lot of the shots had these odd bits of nature in them and I was unconsciously shooting the way I would on a wilderness trip. So I thought this idea of an 'urban wild' was an interesting paradox to explore, especially in a place as antithetical to nature as Gowanus. More importantly this approach had a personal connection for me as someone who has always been keen on outdoors adventures. My working question became something like 'what if wilderness isn't just about the external qualities of a place, but about how we perceive or choose to experience a landscape?'  I think at a certain point I realized that the work wasn't so much a documentary but more a subjective vision of how I felt in those spaces, or how I wanted to feel; a longing, a stillness. Of course now that the neighborhood is changing so much and some of the pictures no longer exist, the series is taking on a historical dimension as well which I also find interesting.

What has the project taught or revealed to you about the changing landscape of your neighborhood?

I tended to think of change in neighborhoods as happening on a large scale; big buildings go up, others get torn down, stores open or close, etc. But what began to fascinate me was discovering how the urban environment changes on the micro level. When I looked at Gowanus with the eye of a naturalist, the way a scientist may set up a camera in the jungle and look at the same patch of dirt for months on end, the environment revealed things I might not normally have noticed. Plants of all kinds find purchase in unlikely spots and blossom, mature, then wither and lie dormant. Trash and refuse ebb and flow, collect and disperse in odd ways, and all this interacts with the built environment itself which eventually crumbles, is destroyed, and then repaired or replaced. It all has a very organic feel to it, a rhythm, that made me realize I can connect to this idea of wilderness and something bigger than myself even here in the city.

Egret  by Miska Draskoczy,  courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Egret by Miska Draskoczy, courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Debris Apron  by Miska Draskoczy,  courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Debris Apron by Miska Draskoczy, courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

How has this project allowed you to connect in a deeper way with this community?

It's been an interesting and rewarding journey for me on this front. I started shooting this project in 2012 but had already been living in the neighborhood since 2008. Despite that length of time I didn't have any connection to the art community in Gowanus when I started, I just went about shooting things for my own little personal project. Then in 2013 as Gowanus Wild was starting to mature and go public it dawned on me that having shot all this work in Gowanus, it would probably be a good idea to reach out and connect with the local art scene here, suspecting it would be of interest. I was only dimly aware of Gowanus Open Studios at the time, but took the plunge and ran a pop-up show for it in fall 2013. It was an incredible experience as not only did I have hundreds of people come through the show, but I got connected to the Gowanus Open Studios team and began to volunteer and become involved in the art scene here. Since then, it's been such a great resource, I love having this base of a local community to be a part of. This fall I had a show for Gowanus Wild at Ground Floor Gallery in neighboring Park Slope which felt like a great way to tie it all together.

What is your favorite art making tool?

My brain, my spreadsheets, my notes. I'm a big believer that great projects have at their core unique and well conceived ideas. I spend a lot of time researching and developing ideas before and as they become projects. I'm just now moving forward with a series I've been shooting on and off for two years because it took me that long to finally find the right title. Two years to find the right two words!  It's so worth it though. Once a project starts to take off and move from the personal and private phase to the public one, I can make little course corrections but ideally I want it to be set up in a way that people can lock into it right away. Otherwise I risk doing a lot of work that may fall flat because I failed to find an effective way to communicate what I'm doing. I think of my role primarily as a communicator and I try to keep that in the forefront regardless of what medium I'm working in or whether it's personal or client work. What am I trying to convey? What will people get out of it? How can I say it more effectively? I don't think this means being literal or obvious, but having cohesion and purpose. Creativity most definitely has to come from an intuitive, unconscious place where often nothing makes sense at first, but then it gets dragged into the light and editor vs creator push and pull against each other. I'm always fascinated by this process and the challenge is often to not get stuck too much on one side of it or the other but let them dance together.

Spring Tangle  by Miska Draskoczy,  courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Spring Tangle by Miska Draskoczy, courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

What music/band/artist are you listening to the most right now?

I recently got the new Aphex Twin album (Syro) and have probably listened to it about a thousand times already. Then I found this obsessively long and detailed interview Richard D. James did where he goes into great detail about the techniques and gear behind making the album and his process in general. I did a lot of electronic music in college so it brought back fond memories of geeking out over analog synthesis, gear, and that fixation of going super deep into process. It's such a great feeling when I've really worked and re-worked over a piece of gear, a shooting location, color correction tools, a set of possibilities, such that it becomes encoded in my unconsciousness, I can create from this really rich space of fluency with material.  Also, with electronic music specifically I just love getting all nerdy and hopped up on math. There is something very pure and spiritual to it. I think I tend to gravitate towards abstraction and design in my photo work for similar reasons.

Where is your next dream travel destination?

Hmm… I do a lot of rock and ice climbing, so these days I fantasize mostly about great alpine climbing destinations. Top of the list for me right now is the Bugaboo range in Canada. They're these monstrous granite spires that rise up out of an endless wilderness of glaciers like some sort of jagged alien teeth. The whole place looks so otherworldly and sci-fi, and it's just crazy to think about getting to climb all up and down these things. Alpine climbing is a little bit like a religion to me. Every time I do one of these trips something big shifts in me, these experiences are so intense and unforgettable. Taking on risk and commitment and stripping down life to its barest essentials while surrounded by natural beauty with my buddies, it's just the best. The memories add so much to my life.

Sailboat  by Miska Draskoczy,  courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Sailboat by Miska Draskoczy, courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Sunflower  by Miska Draskoczy,  courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

Sunflower by Miska Draskoczy, courtesy of Tepper Takayama Fine Arts

ABOUT GOWANUS WILD: I aim to turn concepts of nature photography on their head by finding the beautiful in what most consider to be a man-made environmental catastrophe. The Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn, New York is one of the most polluted waterways in America and the neighborhood has seen continuous industrial use since the 19th century. My vision is to capture a marriage of opposites; the organic in the industrial, green within blacks and grays, stillness and peace in urban chaos.  

As our urban communities grapple with how to connect with the primeval in an environment that offers sterile potted plants as an outlet to nature, I see Gowanus Wild as an urban hiking manual, a continuation of generations of landscape photography, updated for our technological age. If only we adjust our perception of what is ‘nature’ and ‘wild’ around us, a fascinating wilderness can be found in the fringes of our decaying cities where nature and chaos conspire to produce a new type of wild beauty. 
                                                                                              -Miska Draskoczy

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.

Meet Bill Washabaugh, DELVE: Architecture + Art Speaker 12/9!

We're really excited to hear from Bill Washabaugh on Tuesday, December 9th at DELVE: Architecture + Art at MEx in Brooklyn. (Get your tickets here to join us!) Bill is the founder and creative director of Hypersonic, a design firm focusing on the creation of kinetic art and interactive installations. Plus, in addition to be an artist and designer, he is an aerospace engineer and roboticist. 

Check out some of their projects, such as:

The Barista Bot that will draw your face on
a latte:

And the screen mechanism behind the U2 360 tour a few years back:

Image courtesy of Hypersonic

Image courtesy of Hypersonic

SciArt in America featured Hypersonic's work this year, take a look at the article. It highlights Bill's path and current work, and we look forward to learning more in person on Tuesday. 


Bill Washabaugh from Hypersonic

Bill Washabaugh from Hypersonic

Bill Washabaugh is an artist, aerospace engineer, roboticist, and designer. He is the founder and creative director of Hypersonic, a Brooklyn based collaborative design firm focusing on the creation of kinetic art and interactive installations.   Hypersonic’s team has a diverse background covering the fine arts and sculpture, interaction design, and engineering.  Hypersonic often collaborates with colleagues with specialties in technology, physics, mathematics, big data, biotechnology, and the fine arts to help achieve new works and unique experiences.  Bill has been a guest lecturer at RISD, NJIT, Parsons the New School, and was recently a visiting research fellow at the Cadre Institute at San Jose State University.  

© 2017 Kind Aesthetic, All Rights Reserved.