gooood team interviews creative individuals under 35 years old from all over the world, some are pioneering founders, some are clients, some are ordinary practitioners. gooood is trying to record the authentic living and working states of this era. Your recommendations and suggestions are appreciated!
gooood Under 35 NO.35 introduces Katie Benn, a full-time artist based in San Francisco
出品人：向玲 / Producer: Xiang Ling
编辑团队：陈诺嘉，武晨曦，刘丹阳，李诗蓉，徐馨羽 / Editor: Chen Nuojia, Wu Chenxi, Liu Danyang, Li Shirong, Xu Xinyu
The way of being a full-time artist
I paint because I have to. Ever since I was a kid, I have always run directly for drawing and painting and creating. It is my longest relationship, listening and learning, playing and fighting with the great mystery. There is nothing that gives me more solace, challenges me more, teaches me more, excites me more. It has always been there for me. I am incredibly thankful that I am able to continue this relationship in a way where I can work full time exploring creative ideas and colors and shapes.
My artworks have varying messages. I experience life like a kaleidoscopic dream- constantly and loudly, and with no regard to my personal will, I am sifting through and trying on new lenses with which to see and feel the world. Through this constant shifting of mental and emotional gears, my work tends to touch on many corners of the human experience, centering around self reflection and playfulness. I hope that those that experience my work feel themselves inspired to create, and perhaps recognize the duality, the silly and the sad, to be reflective of themselves. To see a feeling or a part of yourself in a work of art, outside of yourself, that someone else has created, can be transformative.
painting works by Katie Benn
I could write a very long book about how I became a full time artist. I could probably write a series of books. I think for most lifetime creatives, it’s not just one big opportunity, one person’s advice, one single sign from the universe, it is many many small steps, actions, and serendipitous happenings that lead one toward becoming a full time artist.
I never went to art school- I never went to college, actually. I worked a lot of odd jobs long ago, waitressing, making coffee. My last non-art related job I had, I was working behind a desk for several years at a tech company here in San Francisco, which was fine for a while- but one day I just realized that there was way too much cool stuff going on in the world, I had way too many ideas for things I wanted to make and do, and I simply could not continue to pour all of my energy into something that brought me relatively no pleasure any longer. I felt repelled by the work I had done for years. Suddenly, the idea of not pursuing a more creative life was scarier than staying where I was. I had to listen to myself and how I was feeling. The only way I believed I could honor myself in this way was to leave my old job behind and build a new life for myself. Of course I was scared to take the leap. Working for yourself is not easy. You are at the helm of your own ship, you are sailing off on your own. If you don’t do things, things do not get done. It requires a lot of discipline. Part of that discipline for me meant pushing myself to constantly create and share what I was making with the world, so I started an instagram account and began posting all the time. I’d say even today, the majority of work opportunities I get, come through instagram. Instagram is an incredible tool if you’re running your own business/freelancing. And really in the beginning, there’s a lot of learning and swinging from one job to the next, with some lulls in activity that make you think maybe you’ve made a mistake putting all your eggs in one basket, but you have to stay the course. Once I started getting more consistent work, everything changed. I started learning more about myself and listening to myself more, having a less antagonistic relationship with myself. I began to push myself out of my comfort zone. I am someone who loves alone time and gets drained very quickly from social activity, but I pushed myself, and still do, to apply for various art fairs, attend gallery openings, meet new people. I have met some of my favorite people and fellow artists in the last few years of doing so.
▼Katie Benn的作品 – 一起
Work of Katie Benn – Together
One thing that has also changed since I moved to full time art, is my outlook on the world. I used to think that art wasn’t for everyone. That maybe you could draw and paint, but you couldn’t actually make a good living doing it- that the creative life was going to be full of struggle. I realize now, the world needs art so badly. There is a tremendous amount of hope in art. There is love in art. There is us and ourselves in art. There is relaxation, excitement, escape in art. There is nothing without art, and the world will never have enough of it- and since my whole body and mind is so dedicated to creating things, there is absolutely no reason at all that I shouldn’t pursue it and that I shouldn’t continue to pursue it.
▼Katie Benn的作品 – 儿童相扑
Work of Katie Benn – Kidsumo
I often use colors from my favorite color family that I have developed. It’s basically the rainbow you would find in a box of crayons where the orange and purple crayons have gone missing. They’re elementary. I like to use familiar and friendly colors to express some of my more complex themes and ideas. I like to think that the viewer recognizes these very basic colors, that maybe these colors will subconsciously remind them of a simpler time, of being a child and what that felt like, and then once that is established, a deeper look into the work will lead them someplace new- perhaps connecting a synapse from when they were very young, with a new current synapse, creating a unique pathway between the two worlds. Psychologists will have you know that most of what afflicts us as adults, begins in childhood. I like to believe that maybe, even just once, I could use art to help someone now, touch on something from when they were younger- and bring some lightness to an old wound, give some understanding or forgiveness to a young memory.
▼Katie Benn的作品 – 大盗贼
Work of Katie Benn – Bigthief
▼Katie Benn的作品 – 混杂
Work of Katie Benn – Painting Miscellaneous
Source of Inspiration
I tend to pull a lot of imagery from my dreams and my own imagination. I have really intense, colorful dreams nearly every night. I have always had one foot in another world, a world less tangible but much more magical. I am a lover of symbols and balance, a lot of which I see in my dreams, so these are two things I am always paying attention to when I am working, often asking myself: What am I saying? What are the shapes saying? Is there visual harmony?
I also have a large collection of vintage packaging items and books of food, travel, and product labels, advertising catalogues from decades ago. I love old things, and taking inspiration from those things to create something new. Again, familiar maybe in shape and color, but taking it someplace new.
▼Katie Benn的作品 – 大零食时代
Work of Katie Benn – Mega Snack Time
Inspired by vintage food package
Arrangement of Elements
Unless I’m working with a client, it is all done very intuitively. A piece is not done until my eyes move throughout the shapes and colors in a way that is pleasing to me. I like to show enough for certain aspects of a theme or an idea to be understood in an obvious way, and I leave an element or elements that are more either hidden or maybe not so easily perceived if you’re just scrolling through your instagram feed for two seconds, or doing a quick walk through the gallery. I get a lot of feedback from people that my artwork is very cute, which is very sweet, but there is almost always another layer to the work that is saying something else, even if it is saying it quietly.
Work of Katie Benn using intuitive elements
Arrangement of Elements
Sometimes you can feel real lost. You might be super excited to start working on a collection of new work for an upcoming gallery show, or ready to dive into working with an exciting new client, and then, maybe because you start overthinking, you feel like the magic suddenly eludes you. I kind of think of it as a pie in the house. You’re hungry, and you thought you saw the pie, you can envision the pie, you can smell the pie in the house and you want to eat it, but you can’t find it anywhere, so you start going crazy. This is when I experiment a lot with different materials because that helps me find my way again. There’s nothing like creating work that you don’t like to help you recognize then what you do like, whenever that comes to you. Whenever the pie reappears.
Right now I like using acrylic and acrylic latex, mostly because they dry fast and are super opaque. So much of my work uses big chunky shapes and colors, and I like the finish specifically using those mediums. I also like to play around with other things like oil pastels, crayons, and I draw on my iPad a lot. There is a time and place for all of them.
Works of Katie Benn on different mediums
Painting on a wall is a completely different experience for me. Considering the majority of the murals/frescos I have painted have been for companies/businesses and I have a limited amount of time to do it- this requires several hours in a row for multiple days to complete. (I like to paint alone, to complete the walls by myself, so that is why it takes so long!) During those days where I am painting for hours and hours, my face an inch or two from the wall, I go places. Mentally I am sorting through years of memories, old dreams suddenly surface with familiar symbols for me to attempt to decode, silently, while I dip the brush and smush the brush against the wall. I lose my sense of time and sometimes self, and I just paint. It’s one of the best feelings in the world. Painting on paper you can stop and start anytime, and it can be more difficult for me to achieve a peak mental flow state because often the activity is lacking the urgency of completion or the physically demanding aspect of say painting some walls that are 20 feet high. Painting on glass is different as it is on a much smaller scale usually, and because I do it for fun, to share with others in short videos online, I am more present and conscious of what I am doing.
▼Katie Benn正在进行壁画绘制，Katie Benn painting on the walls
Depending on the space, the client, and the general opportunity, these frescos or mural works could be either an extension of my smaller paintings, just much larger, or they might be designed to interact with the space. It all really depends on how much freedom is allowed with the space, with respect to the culture, interior design, existing architectural vision.
▼完成后的壁画作品，completed fresco work
Plans and Future Expectation
In the last year I have begun to branch out to design textiles and apparel, I’d like to challenge myself to do more of that. Seeing other people wearing your art can be a huge thrill. I also like the idea of creating art that is accessible to people of all socioeconomic backgrounds. I also would love to design an outdoor mural that is gigantic and employ a bunch of my local artist friends to help me execute it.
I am working on a lot of things these days and I don’t love to talk about projects before they are released, but there are a lot more murals, clothing designs, textiles and prints releasing this year. With regard to the projects and the people I am working with, I am both very excited and very thankful.
Katie Benn dedicated in artistic work
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