When you decide to be an artist.

Well. I promise I’m still alive, I’ve just been under a pile of projects and I have been exhausted in the best type of way. I’ve been in New Orleans doing interior design for an upscale boutique. It was so much fun being able to really get my hands dirty and do everything I love at once: paint, design, photograph and eat. And boy did I eat. I won’t even start on that subject, because I won’t be able to stop gushing about the things you can consume in Nola.

The woman that owns the store graciously allowed me to stay in her guest home- a small cottage hidden behind her beautiful victorian home. It was previously a carriage house back in 1822 with all of it’s original wood and flooring. I was over the moon about it with it’s simple white washed walls and worn in bones that held 200 years of history.

photo

Something I love about Nola is it’s sense of community. The stores open later in the morning and everyone walks to cafes with their close friends and dogs. Every morning, the sunlight would pour into the carriage house- waking me up without an alarm clock at 7am, and by 7:30, Dianna and I were walking to a local breakfast stop, with her french bulldog Poppy in tow, for coffee by the gallon and a pastry. People would come up and talk to me like I was a long lost friend- asking about my life and giving me advice about my upcoming trip to Europe. This was so refreshing (and a bit shocking, honestly) compared to the typical awkward smiles from strangers followed by them avoiding eye contact by scanning their instagram feed.  On the first day, I thought we might have just happened to stumble upon a few friendly people by chance, but as the days went on, it really was that the majority of people were asking “how are you” without wanting to hear an unauthentic “great!!” in return.

Dianna requested that I create a holiday display for the store that wasn’t your typical Christmas decorations. So I decided to make the entrance of the store into a wintery snow land that embraced the season while still bringing the focus to the furniture. I really wanted the customers to have an interactive element to get engaged into the display and leave with a positive emotional tie to the store. So I decided to make a “wishing tree” where costumers could write down something they wish for or want to do before they die and hang it on the tree.

photo

I painted a huge branch (quite a bit more messy and used far more paint that I expected) and suspended it from the ceiling so that the stories would hang over you as you shopped. Within a few days, the tree was full of beautiful wishes from one wishing that she would write a novel about her humorous dating relationships to someone wishing that they might live without abandon this year. As a lover of stories, I would check it over and over to see if there were new ornaments to read.

On one of the last days I was there, Clint was released a week early from his rig due to bad weather and was driven to New Orleans to fly out from the airport there. So he was able to come surprise me and see the store, grab some local food and stay in the carriage house with me for the night before flying out the next day. I thought it was so fun that we both happened to be there at the same time and were able to meet up.

photo

Other nights, Dianna showed me the dangerous addiction that is Nola food, go to an art gallery show and meet some new amazing faces. I couldn’t have asked for a better week.

photo

And honestly, I am still in complete awe that I have been given the opportunity to get paid to use my passion for design. I remember a few years ago being so reluctant to completely submerge myself in the creative world. I hoped business school would stomp it right out of me and I could have a career in something “normal” or made people “proud”. And honestly, I was pretty scared. Putting your art out to the world is so extremely vulnerable and exposes a part of your soul. What if people think it’s weird or I flop right on my face and into a big fat puddle of acrylic paint? What if people don’t get what I do? (Spoiler: they don’t.) As the years passed, I found the only things that made me feel truly alive were those design projects that I would do in the safe secrecy of my own home.

And then I dropped the bomb. “Oh hi parents. You know all those business classes I’ve been taking for the last couple of years? Soooo.. funny thing is… I think I want to be an artist. Oh. And move to Austin. Oh…and one more tiny detail..funny I almost forgot..I’m get married.” And of course, in my subtle and mature manner, this was sent in a text message. “GOIN TO B AN ARTIST! LUV U LOTZ!”

So then there were those years in between where I struggled to find out what being a designer even means and where I fit into that equation. And then those art classes that made me feel like a failure as [TRUE STORY] my teacher picked up my art work and threw it on the ground saying “if I wanted something cute, I would have gone to F*&#KING HALLMARK”. Well tell me how you really feel.

And then that time I was hired as an office assistant as, what I’m sure was, a pity hire because I was newly married with both Clint and I in college in a brand new city and didn’t have 2 dimes to rub together. And then she happened to see something I was designing on my computer and asked if I wanted to apply for the position of a graphic designer for the firm. Of course! The only minor problem was, I didn’t know a thing about graphic design. Like- I didn’t even own photoshop. I used the free version on the school computers. So, I faked it until I made it. I would go home and spend hours teaching myself design from youtube videos and books. I studied every designer I could find and tore out pages of magazines to try and reduplicate them myself. Then I would go to work and design. And then I would go home and work on it for hours without pay to make sure it was perfect. And I found out that I liked graphic design. A whole lot. And the clients kept coming back. And we got paid and got to use the heater! BOO YA. And so began design. Finally I had found my place. I wasn’t an artist I was a designer. And you can imagine my relief. I can’t hardly draw a stick figure and was in art classes with teachers who were surely quite fearful for my creative future. But DESIGN?! I could actually do this. And love it.

From that time on, I found my place in interior design and graphic design as my happy and alive place. And I have been blessed beyond my wildest dreams by people who took a chance on me and allowed me to try and make their companies more beautiful. Since then, I have had the pleasure of working with people ranging from small homegrown companies all the way to designing for Free People/Anthropologie. And most of those opportunities came from really putting myself out there in an uncomfortable way, hoping that I might have something to offer them.

And yes, I still have the people who think “I don’t have a job” *palm to forehead* or don’t understand what I do, but I am now doing exactly what I feel God wired me to do. And there are still those days I wish I didn’t have this unquenchable desire to completely redesign everything or have to resist the urge to reposition the furniture in someone’s home, but I am so completely happy and fulfilled by what I’m doing and all the projects I am taking on.

And through my crazy and sometimes awful (my resume being all the grey hairs on Clint’s head he’s sprouted during the last 3 years) journey, I have learned that you have to make the leap. You HAVE to. And people are going to think you’re weird and you’re going to feel insecure and want to leap back to the safe monotonous side of life, but it’s so worth it. Because the world has a way of embracing and changing for a person who is brave enough to grow up to be themselves. So leap! And then write me a letter and tell me all about it.
XO, K.

photo

rad menswear shop + interview with store owner// MAVEN

Last week, I was in the 214 at a creative conference called Circles. It was one of the most inspiring few days of my life- but post to come soon about that.

This week, I’m in Lafayette, Louisiana and had the opportunity to photograph and interview some pretty awesome store owners/designers. So, if you’re ever in the neighborhood, here’s one of the shops to stop in.

Maven.

Definition: (as described on their business card)// Someone in the know about all things fashion; Someone that people look up to for their fashion sense and expertise; (a person who has special knowledge or experience in life; an expert at “winning”; the guy that gets the girl at the end of a movie, never taps out, and always knows when to hold’em and fold’em.)

This vintage inspired menswear store was one of the coolest (in every sense of the word) shops I’ve been in lately. To be honest with you, I was quite surprised to find so many gems tucked away in Lafayette, but the store owners informed me that this city is up and coming in the creative scene.

LA-0957

Daniel co-owns the store (as well as the new installation of the women’s version across the street) with his wife, Christina. He was gracious enough to answer a few of my questions and let me photograph his wonderfully worn and inviting shop, even getting a chair for me to get some better shots of the decorations that were high up (#fixedlensproblems).

If I were a man, this would be my store. With everything from wooden bow ties to vintage guitars- it’s a candy land for men who appreciate quirk, nostalgia and culture of the visual.

LA-0933 LA-0930

“We’re one of the only stores… really the only one I know of… that sells menswear alongside vintage musical equipment” Daniel offers, “and we’re the only store that can sell American Apparel clothing by itself. Other retailers have can sell it with a screen print or design, but we’re the only ones that can sell them like they are straight out of the store.”

LA-0924 LA-0916 LA-0915 LA-0904

LA-0893

Walking around, I kept finding more and more details that I loved, the interior begging me to move in. The sentimental touches really inspired me from the selling of local music to having a personal connection to the brands that hand craft their jewelry.

LA-0903 LA-0898 LA-0897

“There really wasn’t a market for this type of store, so we decided to create it”, Daniel tells me as he explains that they opened their doors about 2 years ago, and then recently opened their women’s store after the success they found.

I love all of this, not just as someone who designs stores, but also as a lover of stories. I love seeing the heart and passion behind shop owners and hearing how a dream came to life. It doesn’t hurt that the dream they had was beautiful enough to photograph either.

LA-0961-2

A big thank you to Maven for talking with me and letting me borrow some of your inspiration behind my lens. For those of you who can’t make the trek to LA, you can check out their online selection of goods here.

xoxo, k.

painting for paris.

First of all, I would like to thank all my readers for the overwhelming response to WCW.  My most genuine gratitude to all of your kind words and encouragement on the new series/photography. You are pure gold.

Second, happy Labor Day to all of you. I hope you are grilling up some delicious meat with some of the people you love the most. I cheers you from Houston.

Thirdly, Clint and I have been painfully itching for a trip. For the last year, we have been saving, planning, brainstorming and dreaming of our next adventure. And we have finally decided on backpacking across Europe and ending in Morocco. We are still in intense research mode, but we are hoping to take a modest 2-3 week trip across the Northern Hemisphere this Winter (crosses both fingers) with nothing but a pair of cameras and the clothes on our backs.

Clint is doing most of the planning for all the incredible places we are stopping, but has given me Paris as my own project to plan. I am in love with Paris from afar. The culture. The fashion. The romanticism. The history. From Hemingway to Chanel, I am fascinated with this city that curated so much of what I find to be so magical and lovely. And while I tried to pretend that the Eiffel tower was overrated and touristy, I long to see it. And have a coffee where Fitzgerald changed literature. To witness the city that is deep and sad and buzzing and hip all at once. And while I know I am going to be in unwashed clothes and train slept hair when I see it, I am beside myself with anticipation.

Lately, I have taken up painting. I stumbled upon a work of art that I adored at an antique shop. I loved it so much, I would stop in every once in a while to look at it, each time hoping that it hadn’t been sold. With a handsome price tag of 4 grand, I knew it would never be mine. So I decided to try my own hand and make my own. So I went out and bought myself a 28″x36″ canvas and some new brushes. Much of the paints and supplies I still had from my college art classes. I took the evening and I painted my own piece of work with the same color scheme I found so beautiful in the antique shop painting. I sent a picture of the finished product to my friend who strongly encouraged me to post it on social media to get input. Once I did, the response was truly surprising. I was getting offers to buy it, along with generous praise. I was FLOORED. I was so scared to even post it in public and they wanted to BUY IT? I hung it up in my office, but soon after, I was wanting to paint more of them. Half out of curiosity (that was surely a one hit wonder.. right?) and half out of the creative freedom I felt while painting the first one. I felt like time flew by and was alone to express my emotions with a paint brush.

So I painted some more. One for over the fireplace. One for the bathroom. One for our bedroom. Another for the office. I was loving this. And running out of room. And money. (Thank goodness for hobby lobby’s 40% coupons.) But I still wasn’t selling them. I wanted to have a good enough cause.

And once this backpacking trip became a reality, I decided it was time. Time to paint for Paris. So in the next few weeks, I will be spending my free time painting different sizes of canvases to sell to help support our trip. I’m not sure yet on how I will be selling- on etsy, or simply by word of mouth through social media. If any of you readers sell handmade goods, please comment with your recommendations! I will be ever so grateful! I would love to get one (or 4!) of these labor of loves into the homes of the people I cherish.

I will be open for business once I can get about 5-10 paintings ready.

But here are a few snap shots of my project from this week, and my first attempt at using gold leaf in my work.

hannahshoot-0942 paint-0939 paint-0945 paint-0955 paint-0957 paint-0961-2

 

Thank you for reading! And all of your continual support.

XOXO, k.

when a girl has some questions.

I get straight giddy over interior design. It is a field that I am actively attempting to understand. It intrigues me because learning design is like getting to know someone. You have to feel it out and learn the quirks and traits that make it come together. There is no formula you can learn that “works”, like math or science. You have train your eyes and season your gut. As a lover of good design, well crafted furniture and small shops, I have been seeking out designers and shop owners in Houston to get some insight on their take of aesthetics.

Over the last week, I have gone to several different antique/interior design shops and spoken to their owners and designers about what it is that drove them to get their own creative space, what inspires them, and what the steps are to becoming a well known designer. Most of the men and women who worked in these places were very generous with their time and knowledge- excited to have found someone who was interested in their craft. I was thankful for this, as all I did was waltz in, slinging my Nikon around my neck, and request a meeting.

The shops were so inspiring to me. I wish I could pretend that I was cool about the whole thing, but I was almost keeled over with butterflies that these designers were taking the time to talk to me and letting me photograph.


DSC_0498

DSC_0502

DSC_0508

DSC_0511

DSC_0529One of the shops I went to even produces it’s own magazine with history of furniture and design from around the world. They let me have a copy and that occupied my afternoon as I was coming down from my interior design high.

Other exciting ideas are coming in the works soon and I can hardly wait to share.

I hope everyone is having a wonderful week, and thanks for stopping by!

xoxo, k.