A COLORFUL Q&A WITH KRISTI KOHUT
How did you get into art?
Art has been a part of my life ever since I was a little girl. It was always my favorite thing to do. I would sit at my desk in my bedroom with a simple water color palette for hours. While it was my favorite activity it took me a while to realize I could do it for a living and make money.
I spent my 20s in advertising working as an art director on the creative side working on big brands and campaigns. I loved it so much and there are so many lessons I learned that help me with the creative and business side of being an artist.
After my son was born, I took a break from working, but could feel myself itching to use my creative muscles again. My husband encouraged me to put a studio in our house. I hid away and just made and made and made and a few years later (after covering every empty wall in our house!), I knew it was time to take the leap and put my work out there. From there the response was so encouraging, I really felt like I was doing what I was supposed to be doing. I think the universe was like “finally, she figured it out!”.
How would you describe your style?
Definitely eclectic...I like a little bit of everything and I love mixing things up. High and low. Modern and classic. Simple and vibrant. I’m a terrible rule follower and love the surprise of combining unexpected elements together.
What do you love about being a designer/artist? Where do you look to for inspiration?
Every. Little. Bit. I love it so much it, it really feels like a calling. It is the best. There’s nothing like figuring out what your purpose is and getting to live it!
Inspiration comes from everywhere. I’m inspired by so much. We just gotta keep our eyes open, there’s so much amazing beauty all around us. Especially in nature. The colors, the patterns, the light. Natural rock formations, gems, exotic bugs, birds, the topography of land, the colors of the sea, flowers, sand formations...and this combined with the constant flood of visual cues from the commercial world (graphic elements in branding and advertising, and designers pushing the envelope in fashion). All of these things feed into my work.
What is your favorite part of the design process?
Every single step. I’m a bit nutty and need to keep bouncing around, and this really keeps everything flowing for me. I would get bored if I had to stick with just one part of the process.
I love feeding my head with inspiration, with the periods of play when I’m making stacks of work without necessarily knowing where it is going, and when it starts to come together, and that feeling when you know it is done. It is all beautiful. Even the mistakes. I have had moments of that pit in your stomach feeling when you mistakenly spill paint on something you’ve been working on for hours and hours. But, there’s something in the challenge of trying to fix it, trying to use this as a happy accident and seeing if it was meant to be and trying to make it something you never thought it could be if that didn’t happened.
One of my FAVORITE works of all time I totally messed up. And it was a big one. It was gut wrenching. I shoved it in the closet and didn’t look at it for 2 years. And then...there was this tada moment! So crazy...the creative muses were like mix what you are doing now with that and viola! I was so grateful it was too obnoxiously big and heavy to throw at the end of the driveway or I never would have had the chance to see if come to life.
What impact do you want to make through your work?
I hope to give a bit of the joy that I get in making my work to the viewer. My aim is to lift us out of the ordinary, giving a hint at what’s on the other side of this world. This is where my inspiration comes from and when you look at my work, I hope to bring you into this world.
AND...After taking the leap and going through all of the fear and doubt, the challenges, and seeing how incredible it is, if in any way my work can in a sense “pay it forward”. I want it to inspire people to do the same and follow their dream.
I used to think what I was doing didn’t matter, was selfish even because it brought me such joy...but I’ve realized that our world more than ever needs exactly this. There’s a lot of ugliness out there, fear, heartbreak, and we need more beauty, happiness, joy, fun, all of it. It might sound trite and cheesy, but it’s contagious and there’s something in our makeup that yearns for and needs this.
What do you believe unites all of your customers?
They are, of course, the most incredible, and amazing people that love pretty things and are not afraid to be bold. Simple and clean is easy. It doesn’t go out of style. But these are two things my work is not. My work packs a punch and makes a statement. So my customers are tastemakers putting their stamp out there, taking a chance, living life and having fun! Colors and patterns may seem scary, but it is sooo much more fun than simplicity.
You mention that you’re apart of a new wave of artists. Can you explain what that looks like?
Times they are a changing...the whole idea of the “starving artist” and the perfect career track, is dissolving into the beautiful mist of the magically inclusive online world.
Art collecting is a little bit like match-making...it’s very personal. What works for one person, would totally turn someone else off. Today it’s all about finding the right fit for you, finding those pieces that you feel were made just for you, or that you never knew you always wanted.
As artists, the internet allows us to put our work out there, and the possibility of making a connection is no longer limited to where you live. The beauty is, this is not just an incredible thing for us artists, but for collectors too. You don’t have to live in the town that just happens to have the most amazing gallery, and that just happens to sell the art that really resonates with you…With the art world living online, it increases the chance that you will stumble upon and find the art that makes your heart sing.
I also think the traditional rules of BFA to MFA to this gallery to a better gallery, is no longer the only way to do it. We are rewriting the rules and artists can become their own independent brand, and define how they want that world to look, making it more personal. This allows artists and collectors to connect on a whole new level, inviting them into the process, and being a part of their story and vision.
With the rise of online artists, designers and marketplaces, what do you believe the future of art looks like?
I think we are only getting started and it is such a beautiful thing. Boundaries are being broken. Rules are being rewritten. There really is no limit now and I think the amount of creativity this will bring is just going to skyrocket.