Entries in worky times (16)

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.**

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!!


Saturday
Aug062011

Food Adventures--This Soup Will Save Your Life

Oh hello, long time no speak! I've had some interesting developments come up recently that have prevented me from frolicking in the blogosphere--mainly that in a couple of weeks I begin a new job at The Gap!  Whoaaaa-oaaaoaaa!!  Obviously this decision weighed pretty heavily on my mind and I think I made ten pros and cons lists but ultimately, I stand behind my decision to see what new, interesting, and fun things I can do at the Gap!  I will be designing infant and newborn graphics with a heavy storybook feel--something I have been told by numerous supervisors and peers is one of my strengths. I can only do my best and hope that I learn and do a lot along the way!

Of course, during this transition, I managed to get sick for what seems like no reason.  I rarely get sick which I attribute to rarely exposing myself to the elements so when I do, I somehow morph into a blubbering child mess of tissues and ginger ale.  I WILL ADMIT, IT IS NOT MY BEST OF MOMENTS.  

A little over three years ago, when I was a fresh student at Portfolio Center, I was rooming with fellow student Jennifer Sanderson, an art director/designer, who was also, unlike me, an amazing cook.  Because I'm an incapable sorry mess of a human being when I am sick, Jenn was kind enough to tend to me and always made me this homemade chicken and rice soup, which I'll share with you here.  I am not kidding--this soup will save your life.  Or, at least deliver you from a sorry state of sickness, as it has for me several times over.  

I do not believe in much, but I do believe in this soup. <3

 

JENN'S CHICKEN AND RICE MASTERPIECE SOUP

GET:

3 boxes of those 32oz boxes of chicken broth
1 bag o' carrots
1 bag o' celery
1 yellow onion
1 of those rotisserie chickens from the grocery store that are like $4-$5
1 garlic
olive oil or vegetable oil
1 cup long grain rice
salt

*obviously, depending on your tastes, you can modify your ingredients. I make a TON OF SOUP that will last me a couple of days because that is how long I am usually sick.  I also love garlic (and it has healing powers against evil!!) but I know some people don't like garlic as much as I do, so you can pretty much add more or less of the soup ingredients and it'll still be awesome, I promise.  For example, I unfortunately ran out of celery before I made this particular batch of soup that I photographed, but I still made the soup the same and it came out fantastic still.  YOU CAN'T MESS IT UP.  THIS IS THE KIND OF RECIPE I NEED.

**also, I am, uh, very new to this food blogging thing, so sometimes there are some photos that would have been awesome...if I would have remembered to take them.  FORGIVENESS!?!

MAKE IT WORK:


1) Chop up the garlic, onion, carrots, and celery.  Like I mentioned before, I didn't have any celery, but if you can imagine those little green delicious pieces next to the ones pictured, that would be good for imagination's sake, as well as your soup.

2) Coat the bottom of a large pot with the oil, and put it on medium heat.  Add the onions and garlic only.  Swoosh it around the pot (I...don't really know proper vocabulary, but hopefully you'll understand) with a big ol' spoon until the onions become translucent.  If you are like me, and love garlic, your house should be smelling AWFULLY GOOD NOW. <3

 

3) Add carrots and celery and 2 cups of the chicken broth to the pot.  Cover and cook for about 15 minutes. 

4) While that cooks, use your hands and tear the chicken into bite-sized pieces.  Don't use a knife--you'll lose some of the juices.  THEY ARE PRECIOUS.  If you have a Joon-dog like me, you can give them the skin/scraps.  THEY WILL APPRECIATE IT A LOT.  (Jenn used to call it "Raining Chicken in the Kitchen," Joon's favorite time of year.) **side note: I arranged the chickens in a cute little pile for photographing but I GUESS I DIDN'T TAKE A PICTURE OF IT, WHOPS, ERGGGHHHH. >.<

5) Add the chicken meat to the pot, and fill the pot with the rest of the broth, leaving about 3-4 inches from the top so it doesn't make a big mess.  I learn from my mistakes.  Cover, and boil about 20 minutes.

6) Stir the rice into the pot.  It will sink to the bottom--THIS IS OKAY!!!  Keep the temperature at medium-high heat and cover, cooking for another 30 minutes, or so the rice is cooked.

 

7) Turn off your stove.  Add salt to taste.  BE CAREFUL, IT IS FREAKIN' HOT.

 

 

CONGRATULATIONS. YOU HAVE LIFE-SAVING SOUP.  Jenn liked to serve it with Ritz Crackers, but any bread-product kinda rocks with this soup.  I FEEL BETTER JUST TYPING UP THIS BLOG.

Monday
Jun132011

Highs and Lows, and New Beginnings!

 

It is JUNE (I almost typed "JOON," but that is funny probably only to me, and the little pupster up there), and we are almost halfway through the year.  Holy hell, how time has flown!  So much has changed for me this year, and I put my foot down (to myself) this weekend and decided that I super miss my blogging community, and I am determined to be more active like I was before I made the move to New York.  Hold me to it, readers!!  You'll hear from me twice a week at least.  I have a lot planned for this little blog o' mine!

Most of you are here for the art updates, of which there will certainly be plenty, I promise!!  But, if you're nosy like me, there is a lot more to me than my job, and I hope you'll go on some other adventures with me, that I'm gearing up to start documenting here on the blog!

In the works is:

+ Confessions of a Still Maybe Kinda Goth: For those that know me, I dress in black, and have dressed in all black since I was probably ten years old.  It really isn't because I'm "goth" or whatever mainstream term indicates...I just really like wearing black!!  However, I'm realizing that I don't want to seem like I'm "in mourning" all the time, so I'm going to try to at least document some forays into wearing other colors, as well as prove that, as a plus-sized lady, we can also have tons of style!!  IT DOESN'T STOP AT SIZE SIX, AMERICA.  I already have the first couple planned, and the pictures are sort of hilarious.  I can't wait to share!

+ Food Adventures--The Best Kind of Adventure: I LOVE FOOD.  Now that I'm in New York, I eat out all the time, and have managed to find some awesome places to eat that I'd love to share with you all.  However, this also means that I do not cook very often.  At all.  I've never been more than an oatmeal in the morning type girl.  Even making coffee in the morning is sometimes confusing (granted, it is the morning, and it is a French Press, so I deserve a little break, right??).  BUT! I have resolved to start cooking more, and by "cooking" I do mean more than peanut butter toast.  My first cooking adventure was Korean Zucchini pancakes, and when I blog about it, I'll let you be the judge if it was a success, or a fail.  I'm still undecided!

+ Internet Treasure: My good friend Annie and I have been traveling to comic cons together for almost seven years (holy shit), and we joke about how, before the days of tumblr and pinterest, we each had a folder on our harddrive labeled "Fun."  In our fun folders was just collections of all the internet GOLD we'd stumble upon online.  So, every Friday, I'll unleash all the useless internet stuff I've collected over the past ten years--animated GIFs, songs I like, videos I like, anything, really.  I hope you all find something to put in your fun folders, too!! (If you're ancient like me, you STILL have a fun folder, ahaha)

I think these posts are all super fun, and what I like to read about on all the blogs that I love! I'll still regularly blog about what's happening with me in the art world.  In fact, here are some things I've been working on:

 

We are just dipping our toes into Fall/Winter of 2012, so things are just starting to get busy again.  However, with the way my life goes, when am I ever not running around like my ass is on fire??  

To add more to my plate, I received an amazing moleskine notebook from Kevin at The Robot, Monster and Ghost Co, and I've been doing some pen and ink happy drawings in it whenever I can spare the chance.  Here are the first two pages--as I'll add more, they can be found in the "doodles" section of my gallery!

I finally got around to painting an accent wall in my apartment, in the living room, which I've been meaning to do for, oh, two months. >.<  I'm not totally ready for THE BIG REVEAL, but here is a little shot of my new favorite corner:

Yellow is one of my favorite colors!  Joon seem satisfied.  Ah, the more I look at this room, the more apparent my old lady grandma preferences become.

Speaking of grandparents, it is on to some of the lows of the past couple of weeks, starting with the death of my last grandparent, my grandfather Carl Henry Winter.  It was incredibly sad to lose him, and two days before my birthday, no less.  We had a funeral for him on Long Island, and he was buried with my grandmother who passed when I was thirteen years old.  He was a remarkable man who lived for ninety-five long, awesome years!!  I will always remember going to his house as a youngster to play in the basement with hammers and nails in his workshop (looking back on this--notttt the safest, ahaha), and coming back home to NC as an adult and cutting his hair (what was left of it!) at the kitchen table.  

This was the last card I ever received from him, that I found when I was moving.  It sums him up kind of perfectly--this was right after I had taken the leap to go freelance last year:

"Go get them," so cute, right??  The last time I saw him was right after I moved to New York, and he was so, so happy that I was doing what I wanted, and "making a name for myself," as he put it.  I hope I do him proud!

Going to run for now, but I'll be back this week with another blog!  I've gotta "go get them" he he he!!

Friday
May132011

You're doing it wrong

This week, we're going to talk about a little thing called rejection. 

There was a turning point at Portfolio Center where I desperately wanted to take a class that this particular instructor advised that I take.  It was a design course, so I would be fighting with other design students who wanted in on the class--they got first dibs.  Needless to say, I wasn't allowed in the class.  At this point, I had a choice of either picking a different class and sucking it up that I didn't get the one I wanted or...picking a different class, and then (with the instructor's permission) going to the class I DID want instead, bring my own chair, sit in a corner, and basically push my way into it.

Well, it worked.

I did some of my best student work in that class, and leveled up my design skills pretty heartily. The school environment is the safest you're ever going to get--it's why we're constantly challenged to push ourselves and take risks, because that's the PRIME TIME to be doing it.  Out in the real world, things wouldn't be so easy.

To be honest, I have been incredibly lucky in my career, and have basically worked my ass off to a point where I was rarely told "no" or "do this over" or "this is totally off the mark." I got my first job at a marketing agency while I was still finishing up school, and I was their only illustrator--I sort of called the shots.  In a way, I was...the entire art department!

Fast forward a few years and now I work with a team of 3 ridiculously talented artists, who is a part of a ridiculously talented team, who is headed up by multiple art directors, creative directors, whatever directors, CEOs, SVPs--the totem pole seems endless here.  And with these many talented people and the amount of work that we churn out and the amount of opinions flying across the table, I get a healthy dose of rejection.

Let's look at some work of mine that's been...not-so-favored.

"Too Crunchy Hippie"

 

"Not sophisticated enough."

 

They wanted a "hand-drawn" feel...even though this entire design is hand-drawn. >.<

 

When I receive critique about something that I've done, I always think about this time when I was in Acting class in high school, and someone started to question the choices I made as an actor.  I started to speak, but my acting teacher quickly shot me down and said, "Don't be defensive! Just say 'okay.'  Take what they say into account--it's up to you whether or not you ultimately take their advice."

This really struck me, and it's how I've handled recieving critique or changes.  Sometimes, I feel like some people give critique in order to get a rise out of me, and I always always just say "okay," and take some notes, and think about what I need to do next.  There's no point to being defensive!  Thinking about the end product always helps.  These aren't life or death stances--I'm making little girls' t-shirts!  Albeit, busting my ass to make these little girls feel awesome in their cute t-shirts, but there is absolutely no point in getting crazy upset over t-shirts.

So, that is how I handle rejection!  At least I got to make potato prints and do some leaf stamping!!

Also, something like this helps too:

Some tiny little prototypes of some shirts I designed that are going into production! They look great, and they were my favorite package to work on!  Seeing all the work in tangible format really sets the mind at ease sometimes!

In other news, I am looking forward to seeing some familiar faces at Animazement in Raleigh, NC on Memorial Day weekend!!  Many of my friends cannot attend this year, unfortunately, but I'm determined to have a great time and hopefully provide a lot of happy homes to my art!!  Over the next couple of weeks, I'll be sharing some in progress prints I'm making the for con season.  I'm only doing three this year, so I'm not going all out like I usually do, but I miss making art for people who are not toddler girls. :)

Some recent food adventures include:

Roasted Corn with Butter and Parmesan Cheese (and arteries clogged)

 

Our favorite hotspot in Chinatown, with every animal ever present.

 

This weekend is my BIRTHDAY CELEBRATION, where I'm sure I'll provide some...entertaining...pictures here, as well as more WIPs from my con season prints as I mentioned!!  I'm also scampering to do a quick 15 page ashcan comic!! Will I finish on time??  Nobody knows!!  (But everybody will find out by Memorial Day Weekend, haha!)