I found this artist again through her Etsy site which can be found here. She has completely amazing work. The colors are bold and the images are so imaginative while still keeping an air of playfulness. I am so inspired by her work…there just aren’t words for how great it is! I’m so happy she took some time to answer my questions and share a bit of her experience with us.
Throughout the week, I see a lot of different things during my travels all over New York City. If you look closely, you will see that there are patterns just about anywhere and everywhere: in the sidewalk, on the sides of building, clothing, billboards in the subway, books and magazines, online, etc. My head is filled with all kinds of things that I feel compelled to replicate, so I’ll immediately take a photo of whatever object has my attention at that moment, or I’ll sketch it on some scrap of paper in my purse so that I can use it later when I’m working. Then, I simplify that imagery and convert it into my mental picture of what the finished piece should look like.
At other times, when I’m having some sort of creative block, I also get what I can only describe as a “flash visualization” when I’m about to fall asleep. I have to jump up immediately and sketch it before it’s gone from memory
What do you find inspiring?
Graffiti, window displays, and the fabrics and textures of fashion. I’ve been taking photos of graffiti murals since I was a teenager growing up in the suburbs of Philadelphia. Now that I live in Brooklyn, it’s all around me. I love the color combinations, the outlining, the perspective, the characters, and the various fonts that people come up with out of their imaginations. I really admire the talent that is involved, and the surprise of seeing a piece of art on a wall that was empty the day just prior.
I really look at a lot of window displays on Fifth and Madison Avenue too. It’s almost like going to an art gallery with concepts and colors that change every month. It’s a true artform. I’ve also been fortunate to attend fashion shows during New York’s Fashion Week, and get a glimpse at what will be on the streets of New York in six months’ time. The fabrics and prints really give me a creative buzz.
You use fascinating geometry in your work on Etsy, were you a good math student?
Absolutely not! I still have trouble balancing my checkbook. Even though I was in an accelerated course, I really hated math. It was a constant struggle that never seemed to end during life as a student. My dad was an electrical engineer, so numbers and mathematical functions came easily for him. I always had to get his help with my homework. Ironically, I did a project consisting of fractals years later in college.
I started my college career as a pre-med student. As a break from all of the hardcore science classes, I broke up my schedule with some kind of art class every semester. This class always felt like a huge relief; as if I were going back to my roots. Painting class always felt so easy by comparison. At one point, there was an assignment to create a series of pieces with a theme. My dad informed me about this relatively new (1975) discovery in the world of mathematics; something called fractals. As timing would have it, there happened to be a very big article about them in his current National Geographic. As I looked at the article, I saw a distinct relationship to nature, and found the vivid colors endlessly fascinating. From this idea, I created a series of works based on the various fractal types, and also worked with a mathematics professor to understand how certain math functions created the archetypal shapes.
I also use a lot of pattern from textiles, tiles, pottery, and other handcrafted items that recall my travels to Morocco and Romania.
If you could describe your art in one word what would it be?
When and how did you decide to use book pages as the background for your work?
I was cleaning out my studio last year when I came across a couple of small pieces that I’ve always loved. I have a hard time working small (anything less than 5 feet), but despite their small size (5 x7 inches) I felt that they were somewhat successful. They were made with gouache and with the imagery that has come to be my signature vocabulary in almost all of my recent work: biology and science. I never dated them, but I think they’re from 2005.
For the past two years, I’ve felt completely overwhelmed with health issues and the day job, that it seems that I just never had time or energy to make my large paintings anymore. I haven’t felt the fulfillment of actually completing a significant piece of artwork in quite some time, and this was the whole reason I moved to New York in the first place. I pulled out those small gouache paintings and used them as a model for the pieces that I’ve been doing recently.
These new works are much smaller, but I truly feel a sense of satisfaction in being able to complete several of them over the course of a week. They are a way for me to purge from my head all of the designs and patterns that I see daily and translate them into works of art.
What’s your favorite part of creating art?
I like the process itself; having some quality alone time, really listening to music, and just getting into “the zone”. I also like standing in front of a large blank canvas, ready to work and put my whole body into the creation of a new work as it almost swallows me in its grand scale.
Even better than the process, is the moment when you stand back, and you just know a painting is finished. This moment is very satisfying.
What is your biggest frustration?
I never feel that I have enough time. I want to be able to experiment more, be wild with the paint, and take risks. When you’re a student, you don’t realize it, but you have the luxury of time to be able to play with possibilities. I work full time, so trying to support myself, balance a social life, and then try to do something I love is all very challenging and exhausting. Other obligations come up all the time, so making time for art can often be very difficult. I often have to be selfish with my nights and weekends.
I would also love to have a real studio with natural light where I can spread out and continue to work big someday. I hate restrictions, so a bigger space would mean more interesting work.
What does your workspace look like?
It’s a huge mess and very cramped! I live in a ‘railroad’ or ‘shotgun’ style apartment, so it’s very long and very narrow. Aside from the new book page pieces, I like to work fairly big. Other New York artists I know (and family members) always laugh at me, saying that if I keep making these incredibly large pieces, one day, the paintings will take up all of what’s left of my apartment, and I’ll be forced to live in one small corner of it.
A lot of artists in New York have a separate studio, but I work at home in a room that I designated as my work space. The apartment has a lot of really nice old architectural charm with decorative doo-dads in unexpected places. What it lacks for in width, it makes up for in height. I have very high, beautiful tin ceilings which make the space feel much bigger than it actually is. My landlord was supportive about me having some workspace within the apartment, so he installed some drywall and extra lighting for me. I have very little natural light. One side is storage, and the other side is where I work. The whole “studio” is covered in postcards, photos, fabric swatches, and tear sheets from magazines or newspapers for inspiration. The floor is completely splattered with all kinds of paint from the last 10 years. It looks like a huge Jackson Pollock painting.
What art-related compliment are you most proud of so far?
The biggest compliment you can possibly get is when someone decides that they want to buy something that you made because they want to live with it in their home and look at it every day.
Keep working, make time for your passion no matter what, tell people about it, and be proud of what you’ve done. You don’t want to be the best-kept secret hiding in your own living room.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I used to take Saturday art classes at a school in Philadelphia ever since I was about five or six. A few years later, I had a drawing of a circus in a gallery for kids, and someone bought the piece for about ten dollars. I thought I was suddenly rich, famous, and independent! I never had ten dollars of my own before. I think I tried to take my parents out to dinner that night. How intoxicating….it’s almost like printing your own money. That moment really stuck with me and was an incentive to keep making things.
My most recent project consists of working with Barneys, a New York department store known for out-of-the-ordinary displays. For the past three and a half years, they’ve used my paintings throughout the store paired with the most amazing dresses. I have also done special projects for particular designer areas in the store that are coordinated with New York’s Fashion Week. It’s been a great relationship, and I love seeing what their visual department comes up with when they integrate my pieces into their displays.
As I mentioned earlier, I was on the pre-med path for a while in college. One weekend, the art department arranged a bus to New York to visit a couple of museums. The Whitney was having a retrospective by Terry Winters. I was blown away. The work was everything I was studying and researching at the time, but it was done in such a beautiful way that was so unlike my textbooks. I had never seen all the scientific shapes rendered so expressively. That was an epiphany moment because shortly after that trip, I changed my major from science to art. I thought my parents were going to have a stroke, but they were supportive in a reserved way.
Even though I made my first “big” sale as an eight year old, I didn’t know that making and selling art could be a real career. I just thought it was something you did to pass the time on rainy weekends. I also thought that everything you painted or drew had to look like a photograph, and so it was really frustrating when my masterpieces didn’t qualify as perfect. My mom always liked Norman Rockwell, so she had a couple of his books in the house. I had no idea that art could have so many possibilities and styles besides photo-realist illustration. Art has so many challenges, but I don’t really want to do anything else. I didn’t choose this as my path in life, it chose me.
Thank you for the interview, and for the opportunity to tell my story to the world!
No – thank you for sharing a bit of your creative mind with us! I don’t even have words to explain how much I love her work. It is perfectly pleasing and down-to-earth. Plus it would look fantastic in my house.
Check out her Etsy site: http://www.etsy.com/shop/kipi
Check out her new blog: http://kipiboo.blogspot.com/
As well as her website: http://www.kipiski.com/index.html
Prepare to be inspired!