I just love listening to creative people talk about their passions. I also love peeking inside other artists' studios and seeing how they work, so when my lovely artist friend Amy Won at Treespace Studio invited me to participate in this world wide blog hop of artist/writer interviews, I said "yes!" immediately. I need to invite three other artists or writers to post next Monday and I'll link to their posts here.
(Update: I asked around and everyone had either done it, or was too busy over the summer. Consider this your invitation, if you haven't done it already. Let me know and I'll link you up)
What am I working on?
I'm finding my way back to a regular studio practice, after my old day job squeezed away the time I had to spend there. I'm curious though to see whether this path will in fact lead back, or whether I will find myself somewhere new. My most public work has been artist books. That's what I've sold, that's where I've received most recognition, and that's my intended route for further study. It's not where I am right now though.
My more personal work has usually been in art journals and in teaching my hands to make and embellish in any way I can imagine. I want to spend more time on my fine art skills, pushing them on from the foundation year in art and design I studied a few years ago.
That's why I'm taking online courses like Misty Mawn's Full Circle and The Year of the Fairy Tale with Carla Sonheim. I've also been setting myself little challenges and that's what you see me working on, above. I'm sketching with watercolours and a black pen, every day of my summer holiday. I'm practising nonattachment to outcomes, above all. Carla Sonheim taught me the value of setting limits as a creative kickstart, and Danny Gregory's books and blogs taught me the value of drawing every day, a habit I'm resuming after a long gap.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I believe that this question haunts a lot of artists, in every field. The gremlins like to whisper "why do you even bother? It's not like you have anything new to say, it's all been done before (and better, too!)." I found the best armour against that recently, in this quote:
Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it. - C.S.Lewis
All I can say about my work is that it is my truth; it is my best attempt to show you how I see the world. I won't claim wild originality, but I know when I'm on to something when it feels somehow, very Kelly. At best, it's the feeling of someone saying "I love the way you see the world" or "you have a unique line." At worst, it's the feeling of being in a class and realising that my work looks nothing like anyone else's, and of course, that can be the best part too!
Why do I write/create what I do?
A lot of my work over the years has been as record keeper, story teller and archivist for my life and my family. I don't have a great memory for when stuff happened, so I keep journals and scrapbooks to help.
Looking closely at the world around me feels like meditation. I know some people feel removed from the moment when they're behind the lens, but for me it feels deeper in, because I must stop and look closely, to notice colours and details I didn't before. Drawing has the same effect, only deeper still. To look carefully, in a space beyond language, at curve and angle and shade and hue feels like nothing else I've experienced yet.
I want to cause people to look again at things they overlook every day, and find the joy within. My artist book, 'Hearts on the Night Bus'. For those who don't live in London, the night bus is the only way to get home once it gets truly late; tubes and trains close down before 1am and cabs cost a lot here. The night buses often take the long way home and I know people who avoid them; my book looks at the imagined intersection of lives on one of these buses, bringing the drama of human life to the mundane nature of public transport.
How does your writing/creating process work?
Collection and reflection: a photo of the shadow of leaves, the rusty metal washer, the flower flattened in a book; all these are beginnings. I loved seeing a mock up of Hayao Miyazaki's studio, filled with reference books on everything under the sun, sketches and collected treasures. It reassured me that I'm not actually a TV-ready hoarder, it's just that I think like an artist, collect like an artist. Right?
I usually have a hardback notebook with me. Not exactly a sketchbook, not exactly a journal, it's not pretty to look through. It's job is to capture all the little sparks of ideas during a day: sketches of patterns, quotes, copied lettering, lists, questions and wonderings.
An artist book might start with a piece of paper or a verse of text. Then I get the flash -the concept for the book, what it will be about - that usually comes in an instant. After that comes the hard work, the whittling away of ideas. I might sketch things out, collect materials, try colour combinations and binding techniques, especially once I've chosen the materials. Every step is a choice and every choice has to be right. The thing with artist books is that object as a whole is something greater than what's within the pages. How it feels in your hand, how it's bound, how the pages open... All of that is either harmonious with the book's idea or deliberately at odds with it.
My journal work is more intuitive. I'll start with a word or phrase, or a piece of collage material, or a few colours of paint. From there it's just a reactive process. Lay down some colours, or background collage. Then I ask the question "What does it want next?" Lather, rinse, repeat.
Take some time to check out these other artists participating in the Worldwide Blog Hop Interviews:
Daily Photo Montage who invited
Michael Tunk who invited
Adrian Velazco who invited
Emiko Shimabukuro who invited
Amy Won who invited me
I'm inviting my guests as we speak.