get inspired: interview with kate of gentle wren

graphic by kate
I have a series of posts about my two favorite things:  creativity and inspiration.  As a "creative" person, I am constantly searching for inspiration to fuel my creativity, and I thought it would be interesting to ask others about what they are passionate about.  This is the fifth interview in the series.  See the previous ones here.

Kate and I became friends back in fifth grade and I feel so lucky to have such a talented lady as one of my best friends.  We've had many crafty times together as friends and yearbook editors. Despite what she may say, she'll always be cooler than me. 

For as long as I’ve known you, you’ve been taking pictures. You have such a good eye that you can even make me look cool! What originally drew you to this passion? 
Whatever!  You’ve taught me so much about being and feeling cool. My mother, father, and godfather are all experienced and retired photojournalists. My godfather let me take pictures of seagulls in San Diego with his SLR, and I’d often skip school to go on shoots with my mom for the newspaper. I picked out this rad red-tinted clear film camera when I was seven or eight, and I started processing film around twelve or thirteen. I quickly discovered digital, and I loved using DSLRs. They were handy and a little safer for my sanity because sometimes calculating F-Stops stressed me out, and it was nice to take some test pictures beforehand. I still love film, but I’m yet to enter a darkroom here in Tucson, so I have them processed for me, which isn’t as fun, but it makes film a little more accessible.  I really enjoy the structure of a camera and how photography works.  It’s nice to feel like I can successfully combine art, science, light, time, and an air of nostalgia with what I see.  I think it makes this dream a little more real, a little more grounded. 
What are your favorite things to photograph and why? 
Nature! I pack my camera on every hike and most outings.  It’s easy to forget about the gifts we have all around us, and sunlight is my favorite light source.  Plus, botanicals make for the best models. They are effortlessly beautiful, they sit still, and they are always growing. Oh my goodness, I am so cheesy!  Our natural environment is my most inspiring and much better than a chilly studio.
Photographing people that I love is a close second.  Taking a family portrait is a special thing because I know that’s an Aunt Annette face.  I know she looks and feels beautiful.  I may even think I know a tiny sliver of what she was thinking when I took this photo.  I don’t know if random downtown boy looks especially dapper or stoked or bummed when I ask to snap his picture for my fashion blog portfolio Tumblr.  I also enjoy shooting portraits for other families.  Taking pictures of people creates an appreciated and cherished piece of nostalgia.  It feels like an act of love to put something like that into the world.

Was graphic design an obvious extension to your love of photography? What do you enjoy most about it?
I don’t think it was too obvious of an extension or me.  I came across each art separately.  I grew up on Microsoft Paint, Create-a-Card, and MySpace.  Out of all of our floppies and CD-ROMs of games, I think I frequented MS Paint the most.  I loved making my own pages, illustrations, bodies of text, cards, and magazine layouts.  It was like “Baby’s First InDesign” for me.  I’ve always liked to pretend, so when I would Paint, it let me imagine I was someone else making an important file for work, or a girl that I was drawing, who could change her outfit from cyan to magenta.  Being a kid was lonely.  Even when we got Internet, making things on computers was my favorite lazy day activity.  MySpace came into my life in junior high at a friend’s birthday party sleepover.  The girls there encouraged me to make one.  After that, I was teaching myself HTML, and that was where I started to get the hang of design and coding.  It was just Kate sitting up at the office chair crafting layouts on MS Paint all over again, but this time, people could see it.  This continued later in high school when I joined Yearbook.  We looked at beautifully, creatively, sharply designed magazines for inspiration, made our own layouts, and created them with InDesign.  My Yearbook teacher, Mrs. Wrather, gave me a lot of physical and mental boosts.  She was frequently providing opportunities for me to practice, asking me for advice, and letting me take some pretty important photos for the school and for the yearbooks.  She has been a really solid mentor in way too many aspects of my life, but particularly photography and design.

I really enjoyed graphic design for obvious reasons.  Adobe’s products are like “Microsoft Paint Program: All Grown up + Am I Dreaming? Version 7.0.” I remember when I started tinting photos and cross processing them digitally instead of with film.  It was like Instagram before Apps happened.  You did that too though.  See, you’re way cooler.  I also enjoyed photo-editing software because it let me freeze time and fix errors.  Taking photos of an important event or of a stranger could get nerve-racking, so it was easy to make an error.  Being able to go in and edit a photo’s exposure was certainly a sigh of relief.  It offered itself as a solid set of training wheels as I began my digital career. I am always learning how to make different things with the software, but right now, my favorites are mixing mediums with scanned pieces, photos, and text.  I always get excited about finding new brushes and textures on line.  (Freebies pages are one of my favorite design-related things.)  I also am glad I can make logos, pages, and drawings for friends that need them for their businesses, bands, and projects. 
Where do you find inspiration for your work?
Old pictures, design websites, design magazines, old magazines, music, brainstorming with people, friends’ projects, comic books, and humor.  I like to put humor and quirk into what I make.
What goals do you have for these creative outlets? 
I’d like to always be the friend to call to photograph a wedding, and it will be a nice solid side job to design and code, which is why I am teaching myself the new HTML5, Javascript, and PHP this summer.  Interning in a studio or turning my design experience into something more physical like creative direction sounds rad as well.
I know you make so many other awesome things. Tell me about your favorite crafty ventures. 
I just got my first saw, so I’m very excited about woodworking at the cabin this summer.  My friend just made a huge modular bookshelf in one day with three pieces of wood, nails, and a nail gun, so that was really inspiring.  Making things is the best!  I also love cooking vegan meals, making flower crowns and friendship bracelets with my sweet friends, sewing, embroidering, and painting with watercolors. 

How would you describe your personal style or aesthetic?As far as design, I like simple, clean, handmade, and funny. I enjoy the charm of old photos and mixed mediums, textiles, bows, florals, and vintage clipart, and I also like cutting-edge Slickster McSlick design.  White space is a favorite, stellar photography, basic fonts with a serif accompanied by bold, curvy, conversationals, and bright pops of color.  Pugley Pixel has a design blog that I’m really into lately because it’s just very cool.  Cathe Holden at Just Something I Made makes rosettes in real life, but hosts pages full of scanned in ephemera and design work.  It’s way kitschy and old-fashioned, and it’s not pretentious. It’s cute and wholesome and very appealing.  I’d like to say that I am somewhere between the two.

When I'm getting dressed, I like simple shifts, a-line dresses, skirts with blouses tucked in, flats, boots, oxfords.  It is a little old fashioned, a little feminine, practical, preppy, maybe rustic, but bold.  I like black and navy, but I usually have my brights in there. I don’t stray from my favorite pieces.  I theme my outfits, and they are always inspired by some idea I’ve made up in my head or the character from a book that I am reading.  I am really into Rory Gilmore pre-Harvard right now.  I do get a lot of inspiration from old punk, and the music I listen to.  I like seeing well-dressed people, but more importantly, I love seeing people wearing whatever they like and getting creative in their own way.  I used to work at a record store that sold anime, comic books, action figures, movies, and video games as well, and there were a ton of rad kids that came in.  Their outfits were so creative and inspired.  I just really love nerds, even Hot Topic nerds.  I like outdoor wear as well. The New Balance Minimus collection is my favorite shoe line ever, and I like clothes that I can work outside in.  Most importantly, I appreciate thrifted, practical, and ethical clothes. To me, wearing clothes is about not getting skin cancer, not getting arrested for being naked, and feeling lovely.  I never want getting dressed to stress me out.
PS I love you.
I love you too!

Check out Kate at Gentle Wren for awesomeness!

1 comment:

Dahlya Glick said...

KATE IS SO COOOLLLLL.