I love doing studio tours. There is something about seeing the space that an artist works in, that makes me feel more connected to them in some strange way. And when I did an interview with Liz of Athena Dreams recently, that is exactly how I felt…
-You work out of your home in the San Francisco Bay area as a full-time artist and designer. Living in a city such as SF, that is oozing with inspiration and opportunity has its advantages. What has your experience been living there?
I love living here. I have lots of friends that are artists, musicians, writers, etc, and there feels like an never ending stream of diversity and abundance in terms of art and artists here. I have found a lot of opportunity for collaborative work and projects, and that is something I truly love, artists coming together and pooling their ideas and talents.
Summer Bungalow and Flying in Spite of Everything
-You describe your work as being about stories – real or imagined. And that we forever inhabit our own personal stories. Can you elaborate? Do you have a personal story that you might want to share from your most recent work?
Listening to others stories, telling our own, and even having someone read you a story (no matter what your age) all of these intrigue us and from there can inform our ideas about the world, and help us define our place here. Who we are now, who we were then, and who we are becoming, as we grow and change through the cycles of our lives, is so tied into our own personal stories. I have found for myself that often an event, a conversation, a piece of art that I saw, will trigger memories of stories that family and friends have told me, will bring back something of my own story to me that will help through a situation or fuel me to finish a painting I am struggling with. Stories are also a wonderful way for me to think about creating new work.
One recent painting – On the Way to Apple Picking – has a short little story attached to it. I was in NH last September visiting family before going to attend the Squam Art Workshop , and I was in the car with my sister in law and my niece and nephew. We were driving on a windy country road beside a marsh on a beautiful early fall day, and from the back of the car my nephew kept saying “This is on the way to apple picking”. I asked where was the apple picking and he told me that they went there last fall, when he was a “little kid”, and that it was the first time that he knew that apples really came off of trees. He told me that he liked this road we were driving on because now that he was a big kid he knew the way to the apples. I loved hearing his perspective of the world from what he now thought of as his “little kid” self, and when I got home created my own marsh grasses and a blue blue sky punctuated with the songs of birds and the rustling of the grasses.
-I noticed that around your house and studio space, you have a quite a collection of artwork. (Love that Jessica Gonacha piece). Who are a few of your favorite artists right now? And who or what inspires your own work?
I have so many favourite artists right now, so where to start. Much of the art hanging in our home and in my studio is by artists who I admire and who I know from the blogging and etsy communities. The group of work hanging on the wall above the couch in my studio is from Jess Gonacha , Christine Mason Miller , Irene Suchocki , Maddie Mulvaney , and local artists Niya Sisk , Amy Graham and Michelle Rivers, 2 pieces by my grandmother and some art from my nephew. I didn’t realize until I started making this list that pretty much all the work I have is from fellow women artists, how cool! I will leave the list at that, because those are the ones you can all see, and just say that truly, the work that inspires me the most is the work that feels honest and real and comes from a place deep inside the artist. Artwork that I feel speaks to me directly from the artist’s voice, mind and heart, now that’s the stuff that makes the hairs on my arms go all electric-y, and the stuff that inspires.
Studio Tour shot and An Invitation to Travel
-You were recently published in the book, Creatively Self-Employed. How did that come about?
I answered a call back in 2006 that Kristen Fischer put out to working artists, designers and writers to answer a series of questions that she was using to put the book together. I sent it off thinking “wouldn’t it be cool if she actually used some of my words and experiences in her book” but also feeling like I had gotten so much out of answering her questions that it was already a win-win situation. A few months later she sent me a release and said she would be using some of what I had written for the book. There are 2 pieces in the book where she talks about my experiences: the first is a section called Proactively Banishing Anxiety, and the second When Clients Don’t Play Fair.
The entire book is filled with experiences, thoughts, insights and real words about all the different facets of living and working as freelancer from a huge pool of artists and writers. A helpful and highly recommended read for anyone out there wanting to make the move to freelance work and also wanting some grounded and real-life experiences to check out.
-As a full-time artist, you are living the dream of many hoping to one day break from a desk job. Do you have any tips for the young and the young at heart who are looking for a way to support themselves with their art (or craft)?
As so many have said before me, plan your transition as best you can, try to save as much money as you possibly can before making the move, and when you feel you have done all the leg work you can, and you feel it is totally the right time for you, go. My transition was not planned, I was laid off from a full time design job in 2000 and then within a few months of my lay-off, the big “dot com” bubble burst and prospects for design work in the Bay Area were pretty bleak.
If I could have stuck with my initial plan which was to save money and slowly transition out of the full-time work I would have, but sometimes circumstances are such that you have to go with what you’re presented with, so my way out started with a few months of unemployment, a lot of work on my design portfolio and a lot of calls and visits and sending packages out to get a few freelance design gigs that very slowly began to build into work.
– Your online store opened in late 2007, but that is not your only means for selling your work. What other outlets/ venues have been a success for you in showing and selling your work? Do you have any upcoming shows that you would like to mention?
In addition to traditional art galleries, my work has hung in shows that have been up in: hospitals, in homes that are for sale (creating an art opening and a potential sale of both art and house at the same space), in cafÃ©s, in empty store fronts (to keep a downtown area vital), and in yoga and dance studios. I actually like the more non-traditional show spaces, and find that people are a lot more open to looking at the art and interacting with the artist, where as at some art galleries many people feel out of place and out of their depth – little do most people know, the artists often feel the same way.
I do have a a couple of shows coming up this year that I am really excited about:
I will have some pieces in the show A Vision of Squam that will be at Artstream gallery in Rochester, NH in September;
I hope to have a couple of pieces in a Woman Artist Group Show that will be at the O’Hanlon Center for the Arts in Mill Valley, CA in August; and I will be in an all girl group show down in L.A. this November called The Mannequin Show.
-What has your experience been in having a home studio? Do you ever find it difficult to work? What advice would you give to others who are looking to work more efficiently in a small space?
Honestly, I love having my studio in my home. I spend most of my days moving back and forth between my painting table and my computer table, working, coming up with ideas, sketching, and generally creating and doing. I rarely find it difficult to work, in fact it’s exactly the opposite, I find that I work more than I ever have, and there are some weeks where I know I have worked too much, and too long, and I am a bit spent and depleted. I try to learn from myself though, and reel my time in when I have been pushing hard.
For me, working more efficiently in a small space is all about staying on top of putting things away and straightening up. Now, I say that, but do I do that? Not regularly. When I can get in a routine of putting things away and cleaning up the messes as I go, I know that I feel happier in my work space, I can find things more easily, and I am just all around happier. But keeping the neat factor going on a regular basis, it just doesn’t happen very often.
-Is there anything else you would like to share?
I guess the only other thing I would say is if you feel moved to paint, sing, write, or whatever other creative endeavor, work hard at whatever your creative pursuit is, and enjoy every moment you possibly can of it, reach out and makes friends and colleagues, and remember we are all here in part anyway, to share our gifts, our talents, and our voices with the rest of the world.
I love the story of Liz’s nephew picking apples and how that story brought about a work of art. Those seemingly insignificant moments, are often times the ones we remember most. It reminds me of some of my own silly little moments that will always stay with me. What’s your story? I would love to hear it.
Thank you so much Liz for the wonderful interview. To view more of Liz Kalloch of Athena Dream’s work, visit her website and shop.
4 comments | Click here to reply
What a great blog and artist!! This is a great idea! I’d love for you to look through my shop! I’m a paper artist and illustrator and would love to be featured on your blog. Thanks so much for supporting us artists.Studio M.M.E.
i am right there with ya vicki- i need to get back to painting more often again. and kelly, thanks so much for your sharing your insight on Liz. i hope i get to meet her in person one day. until then, this interview was a fun way for me to get to know her better.papernstitch
oh….how i love liz kalloch. and if you ever get to meet her in real life – then you will know what a gift she is.
thank you for sharing liz’s talent with each of us.kelly
she is a rare bird and i dig that.
Great, inspirational interview. It reminds me of how I really need to get back into drawing and painting. Athena is so talented!Vicki