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Our Artists: A cavalcade of work

June 5, 2012

A birthday present for the lead singer of Ok Go.

Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Katrina Kunstmann, I am 23 and I've been drawing/painting/writing/doing creative things since I can remember. I took art classes throughout high school until the instructor and I had a massive falling out before my senior year and I shifted to drama class where I got involved in tech and directed a stage play. I still kept drawing, but I really got into screenwriting and film. I studied in London for a bit during college after I received my AA, fell in love with the place, and went back to study screenwriting there, where I got my degree. Now I write and draw in equal measure, and I'm perpetually caught between London and the USA. In conjunction with that, I love traveling and I've also got quite the penchant for piercings, tattoos and the macabre.

Apart from creating things, what do you do?
Not much, honestly. Or it doesn't seem that way, anyhow. I swim, read, and willingly dance for the love of it. I engage in high-speed chases of the mind and cat tormenting. I watch far fewer films than I should. General shenanigans and hi-jinks of the bizarre and obscure-- sometimes they are mildly amusing. I can also be found frequently in rock/metal/industrial bars and clubs wherever they are.
Where does your inspiration come from?
Most frequently, my own emotions and life. Most of my work is regurgitation of whatever I'm experiencing externally or internally. It really depends on the piece. I do, however, among other things, get quite a lot of juice from music. It's nearly impossible for me to listen to music and not visualize something. My writings too, will reflect my art and visa versa.

Who has been most influential in your craft?
That's a tough one because most of my influences are not well-known artists, at least not for the work I produce today. From fellow peer indie artists, who really have been the most influential-- Michael Katchan is probably the leading man on that one. He was the first artist I found who produced work that was really raw, emotional and uncontrolled. Any concern for a polished product was dead and buried. I'd seen it before and was disturbed by it, but a year or so later I came across it again and it absolutely changed my work and me. It was very liberating. As far as well-known artists, I don’t know. Da Vinci, I suppose. Van Goh and definitely Jackson Pollack. More recently Lucian Freud, his work is amazing. And of course, my friend Chris Paschke She's pretty awesome and amazing and I've learned a lot from her.
Really though, a lot of the persons who influenced me during most of my artistic development were fellow peers, or books or films, which are too numerous to name. Tom Robbins, Anne MaCaffery, Kurt Vonnegut, and Ray Bradbury for sure. The Matrix blew my mind too, and The Lord of The Rings films.
Also, anything that mentally scared me as a child heavily influenced me today. The animated film version of Watership Down, for example, is something I frequently cite for making me and my work the disturbed cavalcade it is today.

When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I always knew, I think. It was something I'd always done for as long as I can remember. I actively decided it was something I wanted to do probably when I was 12 or 13. I knew it without a doubt probably a year or two ago when circumstances lined up such that I understood that no matter how difficult creative work is, and even more difficult trying to make a living off of it, and despite in those low moments when I bitterly contemplate quitting, I know I cannot. I cannot stop creating. It is as natural to me as breathing. The day I stop creating is the day I die, and even then, my money is on that I'll still keep at it after the reaper rings my doorbell.

How would you describe your creative process?
Chaotic. No two pieces are ever the same, and if I ever try to approach two pieces in the same manner, like a true process, it will usually tank. Some of the time I'll have the need to outpour some toxic effluviance from my person, some emotion or visual that twists in my soul and I will sit down and it will stream from me like blood. Some of the time I will plan and measure and prepare like a ritual. During these occasions my inner perfectionist will bloom in full radiance and I will lose my mind being too careful, and sometimes this ruins a piece. Sometimes I get a wild hair on my rear to draw a back or a certain type of face and I'll just do it. And sometimes none of these works. Sometimes I'll know I want to do a piece with blue or magenta, and I will get out my inks and start and the piece will weave together in the moment.
Always though, there is lots of tea, lots of music, lots of putzing, lots of chewing gum since I broke up with nicotine, and occasionally I will watch films or Spaced (British television sitcom) while I work.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
(Makes guffawing sound) Well, Georgia O' Keefe, I guess. I want to know if she had real animal skulls hanging about, like I do. I'm quite happy watching most any artist who I know, while they work in their studio. Watching people create-- sketch, paint, play guitar, whatever-- it makes me shiver.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
A necklace I made of my favorite character from a novel I'm writing. It's their skull made out of sculpy. Or a collection of about ten or so pieces of mine that I feel are my best work.

How do you get out of your creative ruts?
I drink a lot of tea and procrastinate a lot. I might troll Tumblr and see what other artists are doing/looking at/studying if I feel dry from the get go. Or I'll read. Or open my soul. I'll remember I'm not in a box that my previous works do not, cannot and will not limit me. That I don't have to produce anything to meet anyone’s expectations but my own [unless of course it's for a job and then that's a completely different story]. Opening my soul and my mind and breathing usually liberates my mind and spirit to tread the roads of the macrocosm and that usually helps. If I'm struggling with a particular work, I stare at whatever piece I'm having problems with for long bouts of time. I shoot it dirty looks at an askance, as I am doing something else, or in passing when I walk through the room. Often I put the offender away and work on other things, or pester my cats. I'll try to not think about it; eventually I'll get the balls to go forward or I'll find the solution, or just get impatient and finish the bugger. I'm a very impatient artist, to be honest.
If it's a problem with my work in general, I usually power through. I'll sketch and sketch and sketch till I'm finally happy with whatever I vomit out. If I relax and take my time and care less, usually it works better than if I'm really critical about whatever I do. As a perfectionist/stressaholic, this isn't easy.
Sometimes all of it is as easy as listening to different or new music. Sometimes looking at my old work is a remarkable help because I remind myself of techniques I may have forgotten about, or more importantly, I am reminded of what I am capable of achieving."

Where would you like to be in ten years?
Apart from being fully satisfied with my work, I'd like to be published in the very least. If I'm doing work that carries me financially while I do my own stuff, I will be ecstatic. Even more so if I'm supporting myself with my own projects. That would be amazing.
Ideally, I'd love to walk into a seminar at some sort of convention to a room full of people who really appreciate and connect with my work. That would be wonderful. Also, to live alone in a house/apartment with a studio. That's a must, and one I will be very disappointed in myself if I fail to achieve.
To view more of Kuntsmann’s art, go to k-sanzo.deviantart.com or http://www.krop.com/katrinakunstmann.
*Be sure to check out this week's print edition of the S-E to learn about other interesting people and upcoming events in the community!

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