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goat farm open studio

Not very much to say here, just some fun pictures to share. I had the pleasure of touring the Goat Farm open studio days two weekends ago and it was pretty much the best day. I love being able to explore artist studios, no matter what the work looks like. It’s always inspiring to me to see the physical spaces inhabited by creative minds. It didn’t hurt that it was a beautifully crisp day either!

what art has done for me

Art has helped me figure out who I am.

Is there something you’ve loved your entire life? That sounds like a big question because it is. Human nature and survival instinct demands that our personality and sense of self evolves with the world around us. However out of all the phases I’ve gone through, one thing I know that has always been true about me is that I love art. I love recreating, creating, and everything around and in-between. In elementary school, that looked like drawing an underwater landscape that got proudly displayed in the hallways. In adulthood it looks like… well, this. Out of all the words people have used to describe me, the only one that has always felt right has been “artist”. My relationship to this identifier continues to grow stronger with every stage in my life and it’s where I go when I lose my sense of self in other pursuits whether academic or professional. I come back to this word because I know it and I live it. I know who I am as an artist and it is exactly who I am as a person – complex, emotional, meticulous, compassionate, beautiful, and always yearning for connection.

Art has given me the tools to manage my emotions and learn how to communicate.

Maybe all of us go through this, but I think when I was younger I was often overwhelmed by my emotions. I don’t think it’s in the parent handbook to teach your child how to manage anger, sadness, grief, or envy. And when you’re a naturally shy and introverted child, these emotions can really wreak some havoc on your heart especially when you hit puberty. When I read my old livejournal blog posts, they’re like… insanely depressing. Like ridiculously melodramatic. But that was my reality! That’s really how I felt in that moment back in the day. This is when I truly found sanctuary and solace in art. My art teachers were sort of like second mothers to me, teaching me how to express myself effectively and manifest my energy into something worth sharing. 

5 thing i’ve learned from doing festivals

Now that I’ve completed my two craft festivals for the season (that’s the max I can handle right now), I wanted to put together a short list of the big takeaways I have from doing craft festivals. Take these with a grain of salt, because everyone has a different experience and I’ve really only done a few. Things may be totally different in different cities or with different organizers, I’m not sure.

photo via Capture Life Through the Lens by JONATHAN PHILLIPS

The very few I’ve done are Indie Craft Experience (Holiday 2015 and 2016), Root City Market (Holiday 2015), and American Field (Atlanta 2016). I mainly sell art prints of my own artwork so that may also affect my experience as a vendor. But I feel somewhat confident that if you are at all interested in doing shows like this, these things will be useful for you to know before going in. 

everything i got

I’ve been pretty quiet on the blog front, but it’s not for a lack of desire, interest, or content. I’ve been spending my free moments over the past few weeks being a maker – doing things instead of dreaming of doing them.

sanctuary_web

Earlier this year I applied to Indie Craft Experience’s Holiday Spectacular thinking that getting into this event would light a fire under my butt and.. boy, did it ever. Feeling under the gun, I’ve been making decisions and spending money on new products without second thought. I leapt.

I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch, but I want this to be it. I want this to be the real actual start of me feeling like I’ve got a direction. It’s never felt so close to being real and I don’t want this to stop. As exhausted and scared as I am, I am happy that I’m willing myself into this. More to come soon.

creative makers: charlotte smith

It took months of working with this woman to find out that she was a ceramist. And when I finally saw her porcelain pieces, it all made perfect sense. As is always the case, an artist’s work is a direct reflection of the person she or he is, whether intentional or not. Charlotte’s work is quiet, elegant, unexpected. Her live-work studio made me a bit jealous; with the sunlight streaming in through the loft, I felt a sense of calm and an overwhelming desire to get to work. My admiration for her diligence only grew.

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How did you get here? Why did you choose clay?
It was something to do while I couldn’t find a job, that was a frustrating time.

Do you remember the first time you worked with porcelain?
Yes, it’s because they were out of the stoneware that I normally buy. I’ve not used stoneware since I tried porcelain that day. Well, aside from my black clay.

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What does a perfect day in the studio look like to you?
I mostly work in the studio on Thursdays and Fridays along with the time I have off during the weekend. A perfect day in the studio is when I can complete enough things that I feel satisfied when I have to go back to work on Monday. I enjoy sunny days with my big windows. I also enjoy days that start with coffee.

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If you could pick one functional item to make for the rest of your life, what would it be and why?
Well, I’ve enjoyed making cups for the last year, so why not more cups. They’re almost instant gratification, and I enjoy using them as small canvases to do patterns on or experiments with new techniques. 

portfolio update

While it’s tempting to spend all my free time exploring Atlanta, eating delicious food, and meeting cool artisans, I can’t forget my first and foremost number one priority – making artwork. It’s a constant struggle to juggle being a hard-working professional, a normal life-loving person, and an artist. Some days I prioritize better than others like last week when I updated my portfolio website:

christina-kwan-art

Soon, I hope, all of this will be merged. My blog, my art, my career… it’ll all be one and the same. But until then I need to keep all these machines running individually, making sure that none of them die or grow stale.

Next thing on my plate is submitting to shows and perhaps securing an exhibition somewhere in Atlanta. Any suggestions?

In blogging news, I’m featured in Jezebel Magazine‘s May 2015 issue! See me in their “Blog Lovin” section on page 87

scarlett hill: wildfire

One of the many things that make my life worthwhile is the chance to connect with talented creative individuals who make the world look, sound, and feel more beautiful. Be it through canvas or song, creative expression is at the core of our humanity. So when I’m able to share my dedication and love for it with another person, there is an instant bond and understanding of spirit. This is what happened with me and Scarlett Hill.

scarlett-hill-album-43ascarlett-hill-album-71aThey just get it. It’s not about a desire for fame or money (although some money would be nice). It’s about forging genuine connections and putting out more good into the world. Perhaps that sounds lofty for people like us – just starting out and trying to make a mark wherever we can – but it’s an aspiration I think we all could be more mindful of in the things we do. I’m honored that they gave me the opportunity to do this photo shoot for their album, Wildfire, coming out August 1st.scarlett-hill-album-15ascarlett-hill-album-7ascarlett-hill-album-36a

scarlett-hill-album-28aCheck out their music video “Whiskey” and follow them on Facebook to stay up to date on their new releases!
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creative masters: rachel k garceau

If I sat down and tried to count all the talented people that I’ve met in my life, my mind would probably implode. And yet still, I find more artists to admire, more hands to watch. As I move through different stages in my creative career, I find that there is always someone riding alongside me, just ahead of me, or right behind me. We’re all connected and relate to one another through some form of aspiration or insecurity. This instant bond over “figuring it out” is key to moving forward.

You may have noticed that some of these interviews are termed “creative maker” and some are termed “creative master”. What makes someone a master versus a maker? For me, these two terms are very fluid and subjective. I don’t know if any artists I could relate to consider themselves masters. If they did, they probably wouldn’t be moving forward. For me, a master is someone who is sure in their practice, sure in their voice, and sure in the goals they set before them. By now, all the Creative Makers I’ve featured are probably now Creative Masters.

I fell in love with Rachel’s forms before I met her in person. Over last year’s holiday season, I picked up a porcelain mug at Crafted Westside and my cabinet was then forever changed. It was smooth, elegant, and easy to hold, the perfect size. I had to have it. Not long after, I found out that Rachel was actually a mutual friend. It was then that I realized the universe was telling me that I had to meet this woman. Well.. I ended up meeting her and the time I spent with her was everything I anticipated it to be. When you connect with someone’s work, you are ultimately connecting with them as a person. So obviously, I knew I was going to like her. 

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Can you describe the earliest memory you have working with clay?

It was second grade–we had Art class once a week, on Friday afternoons. I sculpted a whale out of clay and, just as I was instructed, I hollowed out the inside so that be wouldn’t blow up in the kiln. After a long week of waiting, he emerged from the bisk with a giant crack extending in both directions from his blow hole. Mrs. Rosetti suggested that I fill in the crack with glaze. That seemed like a good idea, so I selected the glaze called “blue-speckled gray” because, naturally, that was the best fit for my whale. I kept filling and filling and filling that crack with the blue-speckled gray glaze but the crack just kept absorbing and absorbing and absorbing the glaze. I did the best I could and put it on the cart with the others. The next week, I met my freshly fired whale, who was now indeed a beautiful shade of blue-speckled gray, with a crack extending in both directions from his blow hole. To this day, he lives on a shelf in the closet of my old bedroom in my parents’ house.

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What do you love about porcelain and why do you continue to work with it as your preferred medium?

So many things….it’s as though porcelain is this other material which lies somewhere between clay and glass. We treat it like clay when we manipulate it in its raw form, but when embraced by the fire, it begins to dance in the fluid realm of molten glass. And when it emerges, it contains luminescence. It is not transparent like glass, but it lets the light through and it glows. When vitrified, a sanded surface becomes as smooth as skin–such a pleasure to touch, to hold, to place to the lips and take a sip… In the process of slip casting, there is a certain predictability–when the porcelain is released from the mold, the form will be that of the hollow space of the mold. However, once turned over to the kiln, the porcelain may shift and transform in unexpected ways. It maintains mystery in that way. Porcelain also contains the paradox of extreme fragility and ultimate strength–it can be the finest teacup, locked safely in a cupboard, pulled out for only the most special occasion, and, if dropped, will shatter into a million pieces. It is also rugged and durable–a toilet that we sit on or floor tiles that we walk all over. And it is everything in between–it’s all in a matter of how we approach it, and what qualities we choose to expose.

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the dopp kit

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My dear Wikipedia tells me:

A Dopp kit is a small toilet bag, made of leather, vinyl, or cloth, that is used for storing men’s grooming tools for travel. The name derives from early 20th century leather craftsman Charles Doppelt, a German immigrant to the United States, who invented his toiletry case in 1919. The kits became widely known during the Second World War when they were issued to GIs. Dopp kits were once a common gift given to adolescent males as they ascended from boyhood to adulthood.

While ours is not an official dopp kit, the traditional shape served as our inspiration to create these multi-use travel pouches. They are all unique and hand-painted, a great size for makeup, pens, jewelry… whatever daily tools you need to get by.
neva-opet-tide-bloom-collab-34aThese are currently available at Crafted Westside’s holiday pop-up shop at Westside Provisions, as well as available for custom order. If you’re interested in ordering one, please email me at christina.ann.kwan@gmail.com!neva-opet-tide-bloom-collab-35aWhat would you use yours for?

the days are melting away

August is almost over and I can hardly believe it. We are well past half-done with 2014 and I feel like there’s still so much to do. And so much to sort out. Since I’ve embarked on this working full-time journey, it’s been difficult to get in all the local adventures I’ve become so accustomed to enjoying. When I’m not at work I’ve got just enough time to relax and recharge – and maybe paint and cook a bit – before I have to get right back into the thick of it. So I’m gonna go ahead and cheat by stealing pics from my instagram to share with you all the little things I’m loving lately. It’s these little things that keep me going. The little moments of everyday comfort, wonder, and beauty.

fpoutfit

This has been by far my favorite outfit of the past two weeks. I don’t typically buy, let alone wear, so much Free People, but this over sized tee and this stretchy pair of pants fits me just so. I wore it to work on a Sunday and it couldn’t have been better; so casual yet confident, almost as if #iwokeuplikedis. I highly recommend you go into your nearest FP and try on both of these things. I’d be surprised if you didn’t want them in your closet immediately.

inprogresspattern

I gotta hand it to myself. Though I’m often dead tired on my off hours, I’m still managing to get some good pattern painting in there. The main driving force behind it is a surprise I will be revealing very very soon! I’m doing my best to get a variety of organic motifs for a cohesive colorful collection. Stay tuned to see why..

octanelatte

Yes, guilty, another picture with coffee in hand. Working a lot means consuming a lot more caffeine. It’s just too difficult not to have this everyday indulgence. I’m an addict. At least every now and then I can manage to get a really nice cup, like this one from Octane Grant Park.

highlandrow

Okay, I lied. I do still manage to have my fair share of fun and discovery. I can’t help it! It’s just part of who I am. It’s just more difficult to capture everything the way I used to, hence the insta-overshare. This awesome Danish wooden salad bowl set (you can’t tell by this picture, but it’s pretty big) was one of many things I loved on a recent browse through Highland Row Antiques. The shop is a secondhand staple in Atlanta and their booths are always being refreshed by the vendors so it’s the perfect place to wander and lust over random objects I don’t need in my life.

Welp, that’s all I got for ya now. Hope it’s enough to keep you entertained and maybe a little inspired? I promise, exciting updates are coming soon. Just hold onto the edge of your seat. I know I am!