Now Featuring Kara Joslyn
1 of 2 prints we are offering in our Kara Joslyn print set
Little Paper Planes is stoked to introduce the very wonderful person and artist, Kara Joslyn, as our first featured artist of June- ON HER BIRTHDAY! Not only is this occasion epic, her work, ideas, kindness, and energy are too. Not to mention she is a classy dresser. Check out the great conversation I had with her below. Also consider buying her prints!
Jess Wheaton: Hi Kara, on behalf of the Little Paper Planes gang, thanks for talking with me. I’m lucky enough to know you in real life, and have chatted with you about art, towns, books, absurdity, and so on. But because I have a sense of the shape of your life and our readers do not, what’s your age and location, and what’s a typical day for you involve from start to finish?
Kara Joslyn: I’m always honored to talk with you, Jess, my fellow Gemini. Coincidentally, June marks my 27th year on this planet as well as the release of my prints through LPP!
I live in Oakland, CA and my studio is a storefront and exhibition-space called 4707 Telegraph, down the street from my home. It’s functioning as a shared studio, gallery and all-around project space. I spend a lot of my time there drawing and painting and working with other artists. But ahh, how I relish the time I can spend going for walks outside when the weather is nice.
Today, I’m facilitating a sort of conversation and social happening at 4707 as a collaborative art project. Yesterday, I spent the day transforming the storage closet @ 4707 into an installation for this social experiment with Curtis Tamm, Dalia Anani and Travis Wyche. We wrapped the walls and shelves in a long rolled-out sheet of salvaged talc-powdered latex. Gross and beautiful. We installed strobe lights, and a little machine that makes noise based on your body’s energy when you place two tiny straps around your index fingers. The idea is participants will be filmed for several minutes in the dark listening to their body with strobes.
After install, I walked home, made some veggies, did some work for a graphic design client. Now, here I am. This last week I was preparing for a show at The Compound, which opened Saturday, so I spent a lot of time finishing up drawings and framing. Ebb and flow.
2 of 2 prints we are offering in our Kara Joslyn print set
JW: How did you initially come to art, and what sorts of working modes and different inspirations have you progressed through to find yourself where you are today?
KJ: Well, I was drawing from before I can remember – and my parents were both really encouraging. Like many artists you have interviewed, I’m sure, I always remember having creative impulses and was a total “art kid” in grade school – so art became part of my identity early on.
My Mom is Italian-American with relatives that are ceramicists and artisans in Europe. My paternal Grandmother, who died when I was very young, amassed a beautiful art collection until the mid-1980′s. When I see prints and paintings and objects that were hers, they always look like my art in some way. Who knows how these things affect the course of one’s life, but I’m sure it is significant.
I was actually pretty apprehensive to become a “fine artist” when I thought about furthering my education. I majored in Graphic Design for a year in a really cool program at Palomar College with teachers from Art Center. Then I transferred to CCAC as an illustration major. After a semester of that, I decided to leap into the void, and changed my major to Painting and Drawing, which I got my BFA in, circa 2008.
Most influential to the leap I took were some weirdos I hung around with before I moved to the Bay Area, when I was, oh, 18, 19 y/o. For a minute, we lived a life of exquisite corpses, the beach at night, polaroids, psychedelia, wheat pasting, road trips to LA art spots, thrift store hunting, esoteric debates and books books books. Out of those psycho-cosmonauts, I still keep in close contact with Seth Childs and Travis Wyche, who make amazing art and whom I still collaborate with.
JW: Haha, I lasted one semester as an Illustration major before switching over, too. I’m still flying fast on the relief I feel from getting to make what I want to.
Do you think you’ve arrived at a location or sweet spot with your current series and subject matter? Or is it kind of impossible to only be in only one place at once? Your thoughts please.
Beach Cathedral, 2010
acrylic and graphite on paper, 22 x 30″
KJ: The heavy repetition of mark making is something I came back to last year, and for me, that is a sweet spot. The pieces I’ve been making started with an idea of automatic drawing, which I like because I tend to get caught up in my head. Also, I have significantly limited my materials as of late, which has been refreshing. Thinking more representationally has been good for me. It can be sweet and also brutal at times!
It isn’t impossible to be in only one place, at once, but it is very difficult. That’s an interesting question, Jess… Is finding that centered place the goal?? I’d say yes, but everything I do makes me think of more things I want to do! Elaboration and editing. I think a lack of total comfort can be good for art. It’s good to stay on your toes and stay excited – but cultivating patience is also really important.
I have been wanting to make sculptures and really big drawings, lately. I am starting a new drawing that is like 48×60″ so that will be a new adventure. My studio mate Justin Olerud has been encouraging me to incorporate color back into my drawings, and I’m sure that will happen at some point. I like where I am now, but, you know, restless mind, restless hands.
JW: I think finding “a centered spot” might suggest finding everlasting interests, which sounds pretty boring to me. But all the same, I think one’s specific innate makeup glows through all her or his work in a pretty obvious way. What’s your current working process for completing pieces, including initial idea, references, mediums, planning, time period, etc?
KJ: I start with photo-references which include lots of plants and plant design books I steal from my sweetie, who is a Horticulturalist. Sometimes I pause a movie to draw from the frozen frame, or I’ll draw a memory of something I saw – usually a beautiful view or realization or some kind of moment like that. I like architecture and set design.
I have been taking multiple places, ideas and objects and trying to make sense of them in one space. Specifically, I have been indulging my fascination with the subject matter of inside spaces (the mind, homes, etc.) and outside spaces (exterior buildings, the sky, outer space, etc), conflated into one scene. I sort of see that idea as the connecting thread in the stuff I’ve made.
I start a drawing when I consolidate imagery I have on bits of trace paper into a collaged composition. I trace that collage of bits and make a big clean master drawing on vellum. This master drawing becomes my map for the rest of the process.
I then transfer the big drawing onto my surface – a piece of watercolor paper, these days. Sometimes I airbrush a gradient on the paper first. Then begins the repetition of marks. Some elements require tape masking and many elements are now painted, cut out and glued down. I use rulers and stencils all the time. It’s really fun. My process is totally influenced by studying with Graphic Designer and Illustrator Chris Polentz, in my pre-CCAC times. He taught us how to do everything graphic design, but sans-computer. The hand is the best tool – gotta keep in touch with the inner cave man.
Subterranean House, 2009
graphite on Yupo, 11 x 14″
JW: Have current events, good or bad, ever wiggled their way into your work?
Yeah, of course. Anger over the news really gets you juiced to go make something. It can also be inspiring and make you want to relish being alive. The series I’m doing now is not based on the news, but it is influenced by the political climate and thinking about the role of the individual in our culture. I have other non-drawing based projects that relate to current events more directly. Actually my super-project (that is totally unrealized at this point) is to sue media giants (such as Viacom, and Clear Channel) for the rights to control the content of my own mind and make it art. I got the idea after doing an art project with my Mom, who is a Hypno-Therapist. I wanted to make art under hypnosis somehow, so while I was in a “trance” state, talking with my Mom, I went looking for imagery in my deepest subconscious to use in an art project. But really, I just found a bunch of commercial crap – board games and really really stupid imagery. It pissed me off and I realized that my mind was not my own. This seems significant to me because if all our minds are filled up with this information, we accept it and perpetuate it, without really even realizing it. And, of course, it indulges the cynical notion that the only way to change things in this country is via lawsuit. I’m looking for an anarchist lawyer who wants to take my case pro bono publico. I’ll keep you posted.
JW: Please do. Because you regularly convert your studio to a curated show space for emerging artists, I think you are well-equipped to have a good idea of what young artists need most. What would you do for all of us/them if you could? This question could pertain to Bay Area artists or not, your choice.
KJ: I’d give them all a minimum $10,000 yearly stipend, pat them on the backs, and tell them to keep it up – in return I’d ask them to remain politically aware, take a weekly walk outside of the city limits and read a book a month.
JW: Did you get that, politicians and rich folk who are reading this? So, what tickles you most about the wild and weird Art World?
KJ: Haha, I like this question because we all hear complaints regarding the art world, so this is a very posi-core spin.
More than anything, I always feel lucky to know so many amazing artists in the Bay Area (and beyond) that are so skilled at making, crafting and realizing ideas. Where else would anyone find these inventors of subtle mechanisms to reveal and push the limits of reality and art and life?! Weirdos. Trippers. Rebels with a cause. Radical Dreamers.
JW: Lastly, you’ve already touched on several already, but do you want to share any other big or small plans, dreams, or projects you have in store for the future?
KJ: Lawsuits, archway vista installations, sculptures, acrylic arts and crafts projects, sand art, living in a yurt with my sweetie, Hoyt, starting an art school, social experiments, and large-scale drawings.
JW: Thanks for your thoughtful responses Kara, and for being a part of Little Paper Planes. I look forwards to all you’re going to do!