Thursday, April 11, 2013

Take Five With Kate Selby

Mini Bio:
Kate graduated with her BFA in Studio Art and her BA in Creative Writing, with a Minor in Music. As you might guess from the 2.5 degrees, she has a bit of a problem focusing in one creative area. These days, she runs a graphic and web design company with her husband Chad and four fur babies in Tucson, AZ, has an obsession with Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman, and aims to be a mixed-discipline artist and midwife when she grows up.

Creative Specialities:
Electronic mixed-media installations and sculpture, graphic design, large-scale paintings and drawings, singing opera, writing poetry and short fiction.

The Best Way To Describe Her Is:
Multipassionate multipotentialite, doing her best to spread love in the world.

Personal Pages:

1) What is one thing you've learned as an artist that you wish you'd known when you first started out?

Honestly, I still feel like I'm just "starting out" - I graduated from my undergrad almost two years ago, and though things are starting to become clearer for me, most of the time I'm left feeling very lost in how to move forward in my art career -- and impatient with myself for feeling so lost.
Yet when I really look at what I've been doing on a day-to-day basis, I can mark a slow trajectory toward my living a more creativity-oriented life. I guess that's the one thing I've learned -- that I need to stop expecting my career to materialize overnight, and just enjoy the process.

2) Do you have a ritual way of preparing to create?

Absolutely not. Maybe one day I will, but right now I'm very much still in a place of "I create when I have to," such as for a design commission. Which is not a bad thing, necessarily -- and it definitely uses a skill I learned in art school, making something up on command -- but otherwise my creativity is something that sits in the back on my head daydreaming while I get through the work and necessary obligations of my life. When I get a chance to let it out, I'm blessed that, at least so far, I have the problem of too many ideas to work with, not too few. I suspect it's kind of like a dam - right now, 99% of my creative impulses are stopped up immediately, because I either don't have the time or don't feel like making the time, so when I get a chance to open the floodgates they all come rushing forth. If I should ever get the chance to tear down the dam, I expect I'll have a big creative flood of work, and then I'd fall subject to the same high and low seasons of inspiration as everyone else.

3) What moment/place/time/setting lets you function to your fullest creative potential?

I need to have had a decent night's sleep. I need to not feel rushed. I prefer to have worked out and spent some time playing with the furbabies first. Time of day doesn't matter so much to me, as much as being able to stop worrying about external obligations -- so it helps if I've already checked Facebook and my email, and if I have my phone nearby. And being alone in the house, or working after Chad has gone to bed, really helps -- because I always feel like I'm missing out on participating in my relationships if I lock myself up to create when there are people around. I see that impulse needing to go away as I get to the point of having kids; I'm going to need to learn to be defensive of my time. But at the moment, the best thing I can do for my creativity is get the other stuff out of the way, so that I can unplug and just work.

4) If money was no object, what would you make?

What wouldn't I make?? I would make everything - I would make these fabulous clothing designs that currently only in my head, then photograph people dressed in them in these fantastic situations. I would make these giant LED wired sculptures, invoking renaissance art figures through the medium of old electronics all stuck together. I would make the giant mosaics that I've been dreaming about, and bronze sculptures forty feet tall. I would go nuts - and then I would stage a solo show out in the open in the middle of Central Park. Maybe with walkways twenty feet above the ground, and the art all suspended around the walkways. And I'd be in the middle with a symphony orchestra, singing opera. Because why not?

5) How do you deal with the inevitable uncertainty that accompanies a creative life?

 Carefully. Probably too carefully, though I'm trying to get better at that. I was still working a 9 to 5 up until three months ago, and even now I have my supplemental income jobs. Quitting my full-time job was a huge step forward for me, as far as embracing "living a creative life" (though I would argue that it's not necessary for you to quit your job in order to have a deeply creative life -- in my case, it was a step towards transitioning to the kind of life I envision my creativity thriving in). Post-graduation I had this narrative running about how I needed to prove that I was "making something of my life," despite having the type of degrees that people always joke about being a sure path to working in the food service industry and nothing more (which is a whole other classist, snobby issue that I can get into some other time). I took a lot of pride in being able to point to my having a salary, to having work-provided benefits. I was also often very unsatisfied, because I felt like, here I was, successfully escaped from the eighteen years of my life spent in school thinking about how I was wasting my life and never getting anything done, now sitting in an office thinking about how I was wasting my life and never getting anything done. I'm still not getting everything done that I want to do (see Question 1), but now that I'm taking more control over my time and giving less of it over to other people's agendas, I feel like more of my daily work is worthwhile.

I've been running the Twin Wicks Design business with Chad now for a little over a year, and while we are currently still finding new clients on a regular basis, I know that that won't always be the case, and there isn't a day that goes by that I'm not thinking about what will happen when that time comes. I came across the term "lateral freelancing" not so long ago, and it pretty much perfectly sums up what I want to do with my life from a work perspective -- if I have enough different income sources flowing in, then even if one thing has bad month, the other ones will be there to carry me along (income diversification, anyone?). Not to mention, it keeps me from feeling bored -- and I'm often surprised at how easily my different business ventures can feed into each other. At some point, I'm hoping I can add my fine art creations, writing, and singing into the mix, but in the meantime I'm thinking of this time as laying a firm foundation for my creative life to stand on.

To get to the point, I deal with the uncertainty by making sure that I'm never putting all my eggs on one basket. Especially because I'm terrible at not dropping stuff.

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