Friday, March 27, 2009

An e-terview with Kelly Kilmer...

Introducing... the fabulous Kelly Kilmer...

Let me just preface this by stating that Kelly has become one of my dear friends over the years. We've shared many a gab session over an entirely too healthy a plate of breakfast food items at The Gypsy Den in Santa Ana prior to her teaching engagements at The Art Bar... or sweltered through many a class at the old A Little Bizaar shop in Lake Elsinore, when the air conditioner was on the funk and we got to be up close and personal with each other. How time has flown... how things have changed. Mostly, I like to hear her say "park the car" in Bostoneese... (I made up a word... so shoot me).

More importantly, though, I have Kelly to thank for giving me the boot in the ass I so needed, those many years ago, to believe in my skills as an artist, and cherish that she likes me as a human being, given all of my abundant (though sometimes endearing) quirks.

Kelly, you are one of the original art journal gurlz... you've been doing this stuff for years, and teaching the how-tos to a steadily growing and incredibly loyal following of students. What inspired you toward this specific medium? Can you tell us a little bit about that journey? Where can one go to find out your teaching schedule?

I've always kept a journal in some form or another. I still have the very first "official" journal that I received in 4th grade. I thought it was so cool as it had a lock on it! LOL A lock that was easily broken into ;-) I was always drawing and writing on any piece of scrap paper I could lay my hands on.

When I came out here, Christmas 1995, my soon-to-be-husband (though I didn't know that at the time, it's another story in and of itself) and I spent several hours exchanging journals after I got off the plane. It was a great way to get to know each other even more than our previous letters and phone calls.

Our son was born in 1997. Shortly after that I was sad and missing my family and friends on the East Coast, so I started keeping a scrapbook for Tristan. I was still writing and drawing and keeping a journal, but this time it was an album just for my boy. Tristan's got 2 full, fat albums for the first 6 months of his life.

I remember walking into a rubber stamp store in Glendale and seeing Acey Deucy stamps and thinking, "THAT is what I want to do." I made and sold greeting cards while Tristan was a baby. I started teaching at some of the rubber stamp stores doing basic stuff.

I taught myself how to make and bind books and haven't looked back.
In late 1997/early 1998, I started teaching collage, painting, bookbinding, etc. There really wasn't anyone teaching that in Southern California at that time in the places where I was teaching. It was VERY difficult to get sign ups as people didn't get it... and it was even worse on the East Coast.

Slowly, things started to pick up and it clicked with people. It was something personable, real and a total expression of self.

I'm completely self taught. I took one drawing class at Mass College of Art. I loved the atmosphere but hated the structure.

I update my class schedule on a weekly basis. You can find the schedule here – workshops.

What inspires you? How do you get to that creative place inside of yourself?

I sit down and work.
I see inspiration everywhere. I might see colors, textures, images while on a walk and have that give me a kick in the pants. I might hear a word or phrase and have that click the light bulb.
BOOKS. I love art books, but we'll get to that in a minute.
I don't think anything works more, though, than sitting down, opening up my journal and just starting to work. I'm a firm believer in WORKing in art.

There isn't just some imaginary being floating around in the air that only works for some people. No. You have to work. The more you sit and play, the more things start to happen.
99.9% of my work is in journal form.

My art is extremely personal and comes from me. It's a piece of me. It's a part of me. I actually get down in the dumps if I don't work in my journal on a daily basis. I open my journal and some days I start by painting. Other days, I start by gluing papers down. I don't like to leave the page unfinished. I'll work on it as much as I can until I feel that it is finished.

The nice thing about working in a journal too is that it's a great document-you can look back and see how your work has evolved and changed over time. You can see how your style has evolved, developed and morphed into something that's totally you. It's very fulfilling to hold something that you've completed, created and made in your hands.

If you had a bevy of Muses hanging around you, which ones would they be? Feel free to re-interpret them as needed...

LOL - read comment above ;-)

I know we share this "book accumulation" issue (though I call it something else when I am not in good company *wink*)... what are your ten favorite books of all-time, and why?

In no particular order:

Howard Zinn's Voices of a People's History and his A People's History of the United States. Since most of my work is deemed 'political' by some while I call it 'real life,' I am often searching for quotes that I can use to express what I am feeling... Zinn never fails.

Jan Steward and Corita Kent's Learning By Heart.

It's always been my Bible. Kent has a unique way of seeing the world and a belief in that anyone and everyone can make art. I strongly echo her sentiments.

Dan Eldon's published journals-

The Journey is the Destination
and The Art Of Life.

You can't get any more real than Dan Eldon's work and life.

Barron Storey's Marat/Sade Journals and Life After Black.

Can't get any more real and honest than Storey.

My various Paumes books from Japan.

So many titles, too many to name. I love them. I can't read a word of them, but they never fail to inspire me.

by Abbey Hendrickson.

I love unique art books and this is one of my favorites. A treasure.

Maira Kalman's The Principles of Uncertainty.

I. Love. Maira. Kalman. She makes me happy.

Shereen LaPlantz's Cover to Cover.

THE bookbinding book that everyone should have on their shelves. My bookbinding Bible.

Christine Mason Miller's Ordinary Sparkling Moments and Frida Kahlo's diary...

Is that 10? Okay, more than 10...
Geez, Adriane, it's like picking a favorite child...

You've always been a proponent of art being accessible to everyone, and on a mission to demystify the "aura of grandeur" which surrounds the word artist. I know that you feel everyone is an artist. Can you share some thoughts on that with us?

Everyone's an artist. In some way, shape or form, everyone has a talent and a way of expressing themselves that is solely unique to them. I don't define artist in terms of success. To me, an artist is not defined by someone having a diploma on their wall or having art in a gallery.

Art is a tool and a medium for expression. Some people cook. Some people garden. Some people are eloquent with words. People constantly amaze me. Everyone is an artist. Everyone has a way of expressing themselves that is unique to them.
I get very upset with putting people in boxes and how we define people and judge people in this society. I get very upset when people look at my journals and say "What are you going to do with that? Are you going to sell it? Why won't you sell it?"

Art shouldn't have a price tag. Art shouldn't be solely reserved for a few.
I'm a big BIG proponent for the ARTS in schools. Along with their three "R's," children need to be taught the ARTS. They need to be exploring their creative side SANS GRADES AND JUDGMENT.

Art is all about self expression, not whether something is good or bad. Art is about accessibility and experimenting. Art is about you and your voice and making it heard.

That being said, I love graffiti art. I live in L.A. Billboards are everywhere but no one complains about THEM. They complain about the graffiti. Go for a walk and look at some of the graff art out there. It's amazing. It's unique. It's one of a kind. Graffiti is all about the taking back of public space. I see nothing wrong with making art accessible. If graffiti makes you think then it's done its job. I would much rather look at graffiti art than any –ANY– of the billboards that I see when I look out my window or walk down the street.

This new thing you've got going on Ning... A-Prompt-A-Day... what (pardon the pun) prompted you to set this thing up? What do you do there, exactly? Is it easy to sign up for and where can folks go to do that? How long will you keep it going (and have you already planned out a whole 365 days' worth of stuff)?

Sign up is very easy.
You can find out more information by visiting my blog and clicking on the print that is under the A-Prompt-A-Day blurb on the right hand, top side of the page.

I have always mulled over the idea of teaching classes online the last several years. People have been asking me for years to do it. I just couldn't figure out how. I also didn't want to take my classes that I teach in person and teach them on the 'net. I want very much to keep the two separate and unique. I was forced to start seriously thinking about teaching online classes with the closures of several of my teaching venues late last year. I finally got the kick in the pants that I needed over Christmas 2008. I lost another teaching venue and was in full panic mode about how I was going to pay the rent and put food on the table.

I didn't know what would happen in 2009, so I thought, oh let's just go for it now and see what happens.
My students are WONDERFUL. There is nothing more satisfying than seeing people create and make art from your classes. To give 100 people the same technique and have them all interpret it 100 different ways is fabulous. I absolutely love it and it's a real kick. You wanna see art? You want to see self expression? You should check out what these artists are doing. It truly is amazing.

I haven't planned out all of 2009. I treat the online class like I do my in-person classes. I sit down every month with a pen and notebook. I write out all of my painting prompts, then collage prompts and then journaling prompts. Then, working from my notebook, I do all of the prompts and take pictures as I go. Then, I transcribe the prompts from my notebook onto the computer and plug the pictures in.

It's actually way more work than an in-person class, but it's pure joy when I log into the site and see new photos added from the students!!! I will keep it going as long as there is interest.

Any books... publications in the works...? (I personally think it's time for a Kelly K. book on the bookstore shelves... don't you?)

Nope. I've been too busy with in-person and my online class. My family and my teaching comes before anything else. I'm not into art for exposure. Sure, it's nice to be published, but it's not important to me to have my name or art in a book. It's more important to me to be working in my own books (my journals).

I want something for me now. I want something to leave to my son.

I want something that maybe people will pick up in 100 years and say, "Hey, she was here and she lived her life. She loved and was loved. She was real. She was an artist. She was human. She had good days. She had bad days. She was true to herself. She spoke up and out. She lived her life to the best of her ability. She lived. She experienced life and lived it to its fullest."

Well I urge you all to go visit Kelly's blog and sign up for her Prompts... cheaper than a daily cup of coffee at Starbucks and provides an artsy-fartsy kick in the pants...


Kelly Kilmer said...

Thank you Adriane for the opportunity!!!! Thank you for taking time out of your busy insane life for offering a glimpse into mine.

Poetic Dreams said...

Awesome interview hun. Hope ya weekend is going well. Hugs~

Sandy said...

Thank you for doing the interview with Kelly. I'm so glad as it's the first one I've seen and I'm always happy to learn about the artist I love. Kelly is truely an inspiration (even if she may not know it) to me. I'm loving her online class and will be a student as long as she offerst he class. I love her outlook about art and agree with her on grafitti. :)

You did an amazing job with the interview.

RetroNana said...

Thanks for having this interview. I enjoyed reading it and getting to know Kelly a little more. She is indeed a unique artist and I love her blog!:)

Jeane Frizzell said...

I loved this interview! It's always fun to learn more about Kelly!

Seth said...

Great, in depth interview. Nice to get to know Kelly a little better.

iHanna said...

great interview, always curious of art journal gurus like Kelly! :-)

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