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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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down in New Orleans.

 

 

From my journal dated Sep 28th, 2013 from my trip to New Orleans.

“I am in New Orleans today. Sitting on a park bench that overlooks the river and the city. I spent today walking through the alleys of the city by myself. I like exploring on my own. I can wander for hours without being distracted by conversation. The friendliness of this place makes me feel brave. I ask strangers to let me take their picture and they don’t shy away. And neither do I. I do as the locals and I spend my small lunch money on a bloody mary instead. You can walk the streets with drinks here- with cafes handing out their specials through a side window. The city is full of old buildings and hidden shops.  The alleys are littered with old bikes and vespas. I have only seen this city in the night- the wild, unconventional side as well as the jazz side that has music and soul spilling into the streets. But in the day, there is a city that held to it’s history in a way that reminds me of a wise old man- one whom accepts themselves, for all the good and bad they may possess. It’s a confident city that beckons you to be a child, dancing to music (I was grabbed up by a stranger in the street to dance to a live jazz band) and asking you to take what you see with curious, humorous eyes. I stepped into an old bookshop that took me straight into an old Audrey Hepburn movie- the walls sardined with tattered books and 1920’s architecture, sighing with age. A friendly cat followed me around, purring loudly as I scanned the cook books- none dating later than the 80s. My feet were beginning to hurt from the cobblestone and the weight of bag- so I ended here, reading my book and people watching. It’s days like this that make me remember how amazed by people I am. I want to know their stories and how they take their coffee. And how will  I ever find out if I stay inside?”
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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.

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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.

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“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.”

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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.

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“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.

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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.

austin street art.

It’s no secret how much I miss Austin. I was spoiled rotten by living in a city that encompassed everything I love. A city where you didn’t even have to go looking for an amazing dive bar, live music, delicious hole in the wall, or a store busting at the seams with vintage vinyls and apparel. But distance makes the heart grow fonder, and I treasure each time I have an excuse to make it back to my stomping grounds.

Something that I love about Austin is it’s saturation of artistic expression. While some people find this to be overwhelming, I am so interested in the varied ways that human’s choose to leave their mark on the world. The amount of character and passion that is embraced by this city is so quirky and fun. It’s like walking into your grandfather’s study that is littered with knick knacks, but the intention behind every object makes you feel at home.

This trip, I decided to snap a few shots of graffiti with my friend Whitney from an area called “Castle Hill”- a sanctuary for spray paint artists that are free to billboard their art onto huge cement walls. It’s different every time you go, as each work of art is always evolving or covered up by a new one. I was pleasantly surprised to find so many heartfelt messages on the walls, not just Jnko Jeans font scribbled into different tag names.  austin-0671 austin-0673 austin-0681 austin-0701 austin-0705 austin-0710 austin-0717 austin-0719

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It was actually Whitney’s birthday, so the picture of her by the cake with “Happy Birthday” beside it was quite fitting. And the last one is of her little fluff of a son, Juju.

If you ever happen to find yourself in Austin, here are just a few places that I would stop by:

1. Hop Doddy. Oh how I miss that place. Truly the best burger you can imagine with plenty of cold hops to wash it down with.

2. Kayaking on Towne Lake. You can rent canoes or kayaks for 10 dollars an hour/30 for the day and spend the day paddling through downtown Austin with a friend or lover or bottle of wine. You can even paddle board. Or be super hip and take a paddle board yoga class.

3. Congress. This street is teaming with antique shops, costume shops, boutiques, rustic/quirky hotels, and great restaurants.

4. The Oasis. This HUGE three-floor restaurant looks out over lake Austin and is super beautiful at sunset. Great prices for a fun date night or night out with the girls.

5. Castle Hill. Because I just blogged about it. Duh.

And I just realized from my list that I like wine and food. Welcome to my life.

XOXO, K.

Mallory and Ben’s engagement shoot// Deep Ellum.

To say that Mallory and Ben are a fun couple would be an understatement. I spent the morning with these two laughing, drinking coffee and dancing. Yes, dancing. I’m surprised I even got any pictures taken. But good thing these two gorgeous individuals made my job easy. Feast your eyes, folks.

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During the shoot, I had Ben tell me the story of them meeting to get them a little more comfortable. And I just fell in love with them. These two are so obviously in love with each other that it inspired me to love on MY husband a little better. How cool is that?

Come October, these two will officially be the Pyles, and I couldn’t be happier for them.

xoxo, k.

welcome to Kensfolk.

This last weekend was one of those best friend weekends where you work out together and then promptly make a cake… and then eat it out of the pan side by side with two forks. Tessa megabussed herself across Texas to cook, talk and fry herself beside me at the beach and I couldn’t have been more grateful. 

This last week, I helped with a kid’s camp at my church. I had a 5th/6th grade group of about 12 boys and girls. This age group has a soft spot in my heart since that was the age I was when I first accepted Christ. The week was full of “I dare you to”‘s and having to explain to the 5th grade boys that running around screaming in high pitched wails isn’t the most efficient way to get a 6th grade girl to crush on you. No attention is bad attention, right? I also helped teach a photography class to kindergardeners. It’s so cute to see a small little human be so excited to capture anything from a blade of grass to their neighbor’s booger. I hope they all grow up to be professionals. 

A few from my Iphone:

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In other news;

If you’re an antique lover like me, check out Swap Madness. It’s a website that shows you flea markets/ antique events in your neck of the woods. I’m going to check out a place I found this afternoon. 

ANNNNNNDDDDD did you notice the new name? With that .com and everything? I’m quite excited to move up in the web world. Hopefully this blog will really come to life soon. I’m slowly learning about code and other hipster programmer things. I might even grow a beard and buy a cardigan. 

xoxo, k.