Entries in the way life is (54)

Sunday
Oct262014

Reckless Optimism!!

It’s been almost a year since my last update--and, to no one’s surprise, things are very different now. In all ridiculously good ways!!

 


I’m about to celebrate my one year at The Children’s Place which was one of the best moves I’ve made for myself, in terms of the job itself and my greater morale. I’m creative in a way that is fun and interesting every day. I get to make monkeys on skateboards and as many puns as I want for a living, guys! It’s something I don’t take advantage of--I know I’m lucky, and I acknowledge it about a hundred times a day.




On the total opposite end of the spectrum, I’m also about to celebrate a year of starting my daily(ish) type blog, dailyokstupid. It has an insanely big and beautiful following, and I’ve learned so much and gained several amazing opportunities since its launch. My downtime has been mostly dedicated to type, and I foresee a long relationship with typography in my future (longer than any OKCupid date, that’s for sure). Thank you for anyone who’s been following me along for the ride with this one--what a world we live in, hahaha!!











I got to see and do some amazing places and things with my friends this year--several trips to the Bay Area, a few comic cons (as both an artist and an attendee), DISNEY WORLD for a bachelorette party, Philly for the first time for a pal’s show--I feel so fortunate that, even though I didn’t get to go to all the places I would have liked, that I have the resources and time and freedom to go anywhere at all. I’m so inspired by the people I’ve met along the way, and all my dope artist friends who are just killin’ it right now in the art world of their choosing. These worlds exist for us to play in, and I’m widening my scope every day.

 




This year has been about the power of friends and family, about really celebrating the good and embracing the challenges. I knew that 2014 would be a good year, and it’s really just gone above and beyond my expectations. My 30th year on earth has been nothing but super damn rad!!!

Hannah Hart has a life motto which I have adopted, which is Practice Reckless Optimism. I carry this motto in my heart and it hasn’t led me astray once. There are still hardships; there are still failures. But it makes the successes all the more sweeter. There is a new day tomorrow!!

 

Friday
Nov152013

A Love Letter to The Bean

Getting this out there first: I've accepted and have begun a new job at The Children's Place! I have just finished my first week, and have felt very much at home and comfortable even though I've gotten lost in the building approximately 2000 times a day and it is a good fit for me! It was also a promotion for me as well, so hello career stairs ladder, it's time for some cardio, let me just climb up you a little bit, heyoooo!!

I had several pals come out to help me close out my 2+ years time at the Gap with beers and fried foods, and I might have applied 50 Hello Kitty temporary tattoos to my arm all at the same time. With any job, good or bad, the very best part for me has always been the people that you work with that go from people you have to see everyday to your very good friends, and I have been fortunate enough to have suckered quite a few of them into being my buddies!!
 

 

Between leaving my old job and starting my new gig, I had a week and some change to myself. I scored a cheap trip to Chicago and embarked on a mostly solo trip that was, in hindsight, quietly transformative.

This might have been inspired by a John Green + David Levithan novel but I was stoked about seeing the Cloud Gate sculpture in Millenium Park in person, known lovingly as The Bean.

This is going to sound crazy, and maybe it is, whatever, but I spent a REALLY LONG TIME just hanging out with the Bean, walking around it, walking under it, touching it, watching others interact with it, looking at it from every angle. There's a lot about it that just kind of blows my mind, and I don't think you can truly feel the gravity of its insane presence unless you're actually in front of it yourself.

The Bean is a contradiction. It is heavy and massive to behold, but it is also light, appears to be floating. You can reach out and touch it if you like, and it becomes real under your hand. It is cold to the touch, but it soaks up the warmth of the sun and catches its light. It is in its very nature, self-reflective; when you put your hand on it surface, it looks like you are supporting yourself, holding yourself up. Depending on where you stand, your reflection in the Bean is ever-changing and it is amazing to allow your eyes soak up these different versions of yourself. But, it's always just you. There were quite a number of people at the Bean when I was there, and it blows my fucking mind that each individual person is intearacting with the same piece of art, but is having an immediate and powerful and emotional, unique, experience of it.

Through this, I understood that this is how I feel about art-making on its most basic level. I have always known this, but I needed the Bean to help me collect my thoughts about it all and provide a foundation, a jumping off point from here on out to explore my personal point of view.

It's no secret that the past few months have been a bit...challenging here in Katietown. I feel like I've been stuck in a dark tunnel for a very long time, and to be honest, I think a part of me was lost somewhere between August and October. After a good deal of thought, on which I'll save you the details on that, haha, I realized that my confidence as both an artist and a person had been drained down to an almost empty puddle of self-doubt and anxiety. I think it's accurate to say that we don't know if these obstacles that we face are going to set us back a day or several years, but inevitably, when a part of yourself becomes lost somewhere down the line, it makes way for something else, something better. There is still space to occupy within.

Even now, looking through the photos of the Bean and the surrounding park areas, it stirs something in my heart that is so specific and broad, warm and cool, very little and very large. At one point, I sat on a picnic table in front of the Bean, and took a deep breath in, and then let it go. I felt like I had the wind knocked out of me; it was a sincere and definitive end, and a hopeful and equally definitive beginning. Where I will go next will always be a mystery, but the important part is those first steps forward, which I took the minute I said good-bye to the Bean and headed out of the park.

Thank you, friends, for being my source of light in these dark days. I'm learning to carry my own torch, and run with it too!!

 Next week, look for more of my Chicago adventures!! Like I said before, my friends I spent time with were at work during the days, so I had a lot of free time to myself where I basically did 2309482039x more things than I do on a normal day. And probably ate that much more as well!! Mmm!! Stay hungry, everybody.

Love love love,

Katie

 **This post is dedicated to Kevin, Iris, and Annie who have especially helped me learn to tend to heart and listen to it during this time, in different but equally meaningful and powerful ways. Thank you, all.**

Wednesday
Sep182013

Let's make beautiful music!!

This started kind of one-dimensionally, but evolved into a much longer post than I had expected, a lot of thoughts in my brain space--if you'd like to read, please continue on, but if not, that's cool--just scroll on through some pictures of what I've been up to, and skip the interjections of my ramble, haha.

 

I'm going to be honest withchu all--there have been some dark days here in Katieland as of late. There are a lot of big changes and life events popping up in my life wherever I turn, and although you know I'm all for embracing change and evolution and understanding how the ebb and flow of relationships / events / my art / life choices, etc. contributes to my growth as a human...it has been very overwhelming, and I haven't stopped to catch my breath quite yet.

I will say that my art is taking an interesting turn, a more personal dedication and a commitment that I'm just discovering and with the help of my super rad friends I'm starting to refresh my approach and my investment in my personal creative identity.

I've also had some recent adventures as a means of escapism and also a means of re-connection, which has been a great breath of fresh air. I visited the city of Chicago proper for a weekend, hung out with friends I've never met and friends I haven't seen in a very long time. Sampled some delicious eats and drinks in the warm, steamy Chicago air whose sun was not put off by the tall buildings that surround me here in NYC.

The day I returned from Chicago I played assistant to my pal Kendra, painting a mural on the wall of the Nu Hotel in Brooklyn. It was a lot of fun, and although we work together, we've never really communicated with each other as artists outside of work and it was incredibly fulfilling and rad to talk about and create a process of working together that I enjoy with any artist I collaborate with. I also got us some bangin' coffees, I mean, who doesn't want me as their assistant??

 

My brother also visited for a few days; it was an incredible time! Mostly because of distance as well as our rough childhood/teenagerhood, my brother and I are not close at all and do not share any many interests, so I was a little afraid that he would be bored or we wouldn't have much to talk about, but I was luckily very wrong! 

One of my best friends Iris was in town on vacation the following weekend, but even though I had not had the time to really recover from the weekend with my brother, her presence has always been very calm and welcoming, and it was very therapeutic I think for both of us to be in the company of each other--nothing like being around people who really, truly understand you and can help you figure out things you don't even know about yourself! AND TO EAT EVERYTHING WITH EVER. 
 

 Luckily, partly to distract myself from some of the less awesome events of late but also to throw myself into a safe, risk-taking place  (if there ever is one), I've been pouring myself into various projects and collaborations that are going to be amazing!! When the going gets tough, the tough get going, as the saying goes. I live in the greatest, most excruciating, most heartbreaking, most move making, funniest, loudest, most thoughtful, most considerate, most beautiful city in the whole goddamn world. I don't understand how people are bored here--there is SO MUCH to be enthused about. How are people not enthusiastic about EVERYTHING?? People ask me sometimes why I'm so excited about every damn thing but for me, it's hard NOT to be.

I was at a doctor's office recently, getting a sonogram of my heart. The doctor made separate recordings of all the different valves of my heart and their individual sounds. I was watching my heart in real time, beating inside me. It is so damn humbling to know, really REALLY know that this little guy beating away, pumping blood through my body involuntarily to me, is what is keeping me alive and up and looking at you and things and breathing and being. He played the recordings back to me and I could hear all the valves at the same time, natural harmonization. My doctor said, "Ah, you hear that? Your heart may be broken, but it still makes beautiful music!"

Hello, life! I am here to make some disgustingly beautiful music!!!

Love love love,

Friday
Jul122013

Virginia Beach, for a hot minute.

It was hot, and I was not at the beach, but!

These two happy pea pods done got murried!!!

Bypassing the cancelled flight to VA Beach resulting in a 9 hour Amtrak fiasco (wherein I met the sweetest but possibly most co-dependent elderly lady who believed every train stop for five hours was for Newport News, bless her little bewildered heart), I arrived safely in Virginia Beach last weekend, and had a whirlwind of a wedding experience before high-tailing it (or, low-tailing it, as my plane back to NYC was delayed about 3 hours) back home.

Run-on sentences aside, the weekend was short and sweet. Long ago like 4-5 years ago I used to schlep from Raleigh up to Norfolk to draw with these awesome buddies of mine every two weeks or so. It's so rad that we've kept in touch and I'm so, so happy that we got to spend this crazy awesome day together! The bride and groom requested in lieu of wedding gifts for their artist-friends (bewildered and honored that this includes me) to make fun portraits, soooo here's my humble offering:

Everyone's portraits were fun and silly and crafted lovingly for the Mr and Mrs! This was also my first Filipino wedding, so there were a lot of traditions in the ceremony and reception that I had never seen before INCLUDING:

THE MOST BEAUTIFUL THING I HAVE EVER SEEN. Apparently this crispy porker is called "lechon" and I wanted this lady in her spangly dress and pig-chopping skills as my wedding date for the next however many weddings I ever go to in my lifetime.

The wedding was at The Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art, and was very beautiful and perfect for a wedding. No, that's not a yoga mat. I'm so stoked for these two!!

Also posting to say hey, new art and new skateboard decks are comin', I'm working on some new stuff I can't wait to show you guys, but I've been traveling every weekend for the past 3 weeks and I just want to sleep for a year. Or at least this whole week. 

As a teaser for the next post, Nina and Adam also spent part of their honeymoon with us...here:

Much love, till next time,

ktg.

Sunday
Jun162013

Networking for Artists: it's not what you think!

(Me in 2007. TWO THOUSAND FREAKING SEVEN. AT A CON. NETWORKING. Who knew?!)

In the past week or so I've had four different people ask me about networking, a seemingly daunting and difficult task, and if I had any advice or thoughts on the matter. I am in no way an expert on this, but I know that, based on my experience and general scores of others in the creative field, there are a lot of myths associated with what "networking" actually is to begin with.

Networking Myth #1: Networking is with people you don't know
Untrue! It is rare you will ever find yourself in a room full of people you don't know and expected to thrust your business card at them or something equally weird and awkward. For me, it started with the people in my quarter at Porfolio Center. There were about 10-12 of us, of all different disciplines, but there were only 2 illustrators (me and Liz Haywood) and everyone else was an art director or a designer or a writer.

While in school, one of my classmates would need illustration work for an ad or project they were working on. I was a hard worker (sometimes to a fault--lots of overnights in the illustration room with the dog are in my memory) and one of the only illustrators who actually completed their projects on time and basically tried to make everyone happy without going crazy with the workload. So, I suppose naturally I was picked often to help them with their projects.

(Me and a classmate of mine, 2008. Really seeing the breadth of questionable hair choices in this throwback post.)

Because of this, I would, in the future, be called to work with them for projects for their jobs post-college. I would also get calls or e-mails to help out on projects from former instructors and teachers from the school as well whose real-life jobs demanded illustration work or technical sketches or whatever. You never really know how your skills could be of use. And then, when successfully completing a project, their work colleagues would recommend me to others, and I would get more work that way as well.

Be friendly to EVERYONE and let everyone know that you are an illustrator (or whatever creative type you are). However, this leads me to:

Networking Myth #2: Networking is trying to sell yourself to the highest bidder.
This doesn't mean automatically running off your hourly rate and trying to sell yourself. Opportunities arise in the least likely of places, and it's better to have more friends than enemies! One example of this for me is that I used to go to one particular art supply store in Atlanta, and I just happened to make friends with the manager of the store by asking him for help with various school projects; I had never been to art school before so I didn't know what half the crap on the supplies list even WAS let alone which products would be best to suit my needs.

Two years down the road, that manager ended up quitting the store and opening his own art gallery in-town! Because of our friendship, when he had a gallery show of Atlanta illustrators, he asked me to be part of the show! So, if I hadn't asked some random dude in the art supply store about, like, matte finish spray or something equally weird, I would have never been able to have the experience of being in a gallery. He had never even really seen my work before the gallery, either, so it was really just because I happened to be friendly to him that I gained such a great opportunity.

(At that fated gallery opening! With my former teacher and a classmate!!)

On another note—because of this same gallery owner, I found out and was able to interview for a job through his friend who worked in apparel in New York City. That friend happens to be my current boss!! Crazy! Everyone talks about two kinds of people—people who are especialy terrible OR people who are especially nice. You never know who knows whom, so it works in your favor just to be friendly to everyone you meet!

3. Networking Myth #3: All networking is done in person in a schmoozy environment
Also untrue! Look, I don't even like answering the phone—the thought of going up to people and introducing myself gives me nausea. Never fear—that's what the internet is for!!

(This is me right now, writing this blog. Networking. I only am showing you this because you know I love you guys.)

Especially during my time as a freelancer in Atlanta, I spent a bulk of time on my blog, or on twitter, or on my facebook page, making sure I had a fairly transparent and fun presence which attracted all sort of attention that I wouldn't have been able to get locally! (ALSO, this is where your friends come in, because if they also have an online presence, having something online for them to link back to if they are needing your services is a big plus!)

It is also a great way to make other artist friends, and to learn valuable skills watching how they interact online with their individual markets—Atlanta illustrator San Smith and I met first on twitter, and then in person, and we are now very good friends online and offline! <3 <3 San has an amazingly loyal online following and I believe the bulk of it is because not only does she have talent and strong work ethic, but she is also has a great personality that she projects online as well!

Similarly, I was approached by Atticus of Evil Supply Co first online through twitter of all places, to work on a project for him. We haven't met each other in person (yet!) but we were still able to maintain a professional working relationship through the internet, and the project I did for him remains one of the most fun things I've ever had the pleasure of working on. AMAZING.

Something I have talked with often about with other people in the creative field is how, when people are looking to hire, they are obviously looking for someone with reasonable talent, but moreso I feel like, in my experience, I have landed work because I am friendly and easy to work with. The work / job is something that can improve or develop more distinctly with more time and instruction; however, if someone is a jerk, they more or less stay a jerk. :( Who wants to hire a person who may be talented, but also a pain in the ass to work with?

This partly runs into:

4. Networking Myth #4: Social networking will do all the work for you

This is something I heard for multiple people when I put a call out on my tumblr for questions about networking. Something along the lines of: “Well, I have a twitter, and a tumblr, and a facebook page, but I haven't seen any more traffic or more work...what gives!?”

Online social networking is more about displaying both yourself and your work. The bulk of everybody's twitter and blogs that I went through that asked me questions like this one, their twitter was just a wall of ads for their etsy store, or just blogs about how they're looking for work; it was like looking at resumes, but in blog form! Blech!

A successful online presence also shows the person that you are—your personality! What you like and don't like, what influences you, what you did last Sunday, what other authors / artists / images you like. It goes back to what I was saying about people not wanting to hire jerks—people like authenticity and personability. Think about the blogs that you really enjoy—it's never just their finished work or their art that you like; it's usually something about the artist themselves that keeps them on your blog feed. I think that, especially in America, we have a general curiosity about what's “behind the scenes.”

I'm not saying that you have to be completely transparent online—that could lead to some trouble! But the more of you we see, as opposed to just your work, the more relatable you are and your audience will feel like they know you better, and want to come back to see what you're up to.

(Who's that hunchback looking down and talking to no one at her artist alley table!? Thank god for my online presence, that's for damn sure.)

5. Networking Myth #5: This is too hard because I'm a stereotypical anti-social, introverted artist
Aw man, guys. This one is a biggie.

It doesn't take an extrovert to be nice to someone you are working with or are meeting, online or offline. It doesn't take a social butterfly to be able to communicate with others about your work on a project. It is not going to kill you to update a blog with some in-progress photos of something you are working on that you're really proud of.

What I'm getting at is—you can do it, and are more capable than you give yourself credit for.

Reading your questions on tumblr, it just kills me that some of you are so attached to this idea of being awkward or weird around other artists or clients or anybody, really, that you don't see the truth of the matter which is that EVERYBODY is awkward and weird. I think it's more about being comfortable with that fact that makes you a stronger candidate for any job or position.

Mostly, I think it's easy to think you should give up on networking just because you don't have an extroverted personality. I think it's easy to say “it doesn't work,” when you haven't really given it a shot. I think it's harder to take a good hard look at what you are capable of and do what needs to be done to make sure that you are making a good representation of yourself.

As stated before, no one is going to do this for you. Networking is WORK, although sometimes not the kind of work you think it is. Mostly I think it's making sure that the information and image you put out into the world about yourself is authentic and genuine. You are 100% capable of doing that—but you must commit to it, and be ever-persistent. People aren't going to notice you overnight. But, if you are diligent, and you work hard, and you are friendly, people WILL take notice. How could they not?

(Circa 2008, being an artist or something.)



I'm not the most talented illustrator in the world. But, I am a workhorse, I am passionate about my work, and I am nice to everyone I meet and work with. I've maintained a blog fairly consistently for years now, and have had some amazing opportunities come my way because of it. People have taken notice, and I have become a better artist because of it. I hope some of this helps you, and thank you everyone who left me questions on my twitter or tumblr regarding this topic!!