Juggling Life. Interview with Artist Kathleen Day.

Creme series; Quarantine Daydream; artist K. Day
acrylic, wall paper and magazine collage on 5×8” postcard; circa 2020

Kathleen Day is an artist, entrepreneur, model, actress and mother. Her life is adventurous, creative and incredibly inspiring. She is an internationally published multidisciplinary contemporary artist. Kathleen graduated with honors in fine arts and have won three gold medals in a regional art competition and the Presidential Award for Literary Excellence in 2000. Her art is the way she sees the world, the way she feels and what she thinks. Through her work, Kathleen expresses her views on the variety of social topics such as human rights and mental health.

When Kathleen was a child, she spent some time in Pennsylvania and later, when she was around 12, moved to Texas together with her family. She lived in a few other places later in her life, including Hawaii, but currently Kathleen resides in San Antonio, Texas and is planning to move to New York in the next few years.

Why do you want to move to New York? Is it the art scene, possibilities, or something else?

Everything about the atmosphere calls to me. It’s a home away from home for my fiancé and in the time I’ve been there it’s simply swept me off my feet. The city is so alive. The energy there is unlike any other place on earth. It’s electric with possibilities. I feel Aiden could gain a better more worldly preparation for a future art and engineering career there. And the opportunities for both of us to advance in the global art scene are magnified there.

When did you understand that art is your passion and you want to become an artist?

I’ve been drawing since I was 3 far above average level, so in a way art has always been ingrained in every aspect of my life. It’s been like breathing. I cannot remember a moment when I made a clear conscious decision about it so much as I just knew who I was and that my talents were the only way I was ever going to be interested in making money by “working”.

Creme series; Faux Fur in Creme; artist K. Day
acrylic, wall paper and magazine collage on 5×8” postcard; circa 2020

I think a lot of younger people, at least if I judge people who I grew up with, are told, usually by the parents, that creative job is not a real job. There are many examples that it is not true and I had to battle it myself. Were your parents supportive of your decision to become an artist or you had to prove yourself?

Both of my parents are artists themselves (my father is a pilot and designs, paints and refinishes aircraft of every kind while my mother is a painter and all around crafter/artisan who creates collectibles and such). They fully supported my transition from high school into the work field for myself. My dad was the one who bought me my first physical portfolio and shopped my art around to local galleries at first. He bought me my first cameras. I’m a photographer too and had a photography company for over ten years before I retired from that, though I still shoot my own content and for my fiancé’s culinary business NOVEM Cuisine. I learned how to create and to operate my own business from my dad. In turn, I have been grooming my son to one day work for himself his whole life. Aiden sold his first painting at age 3. It’s so important to me to pass on the values and techniques I learned from my parents.

The Cosmic Egg; collage on textured 4×6″ wallpaper
artist K. Day; circa 2017

Tell us about your typical day, I can only imagine how busy you’re and I truly aspire it. Being a mom, a business owner, an artist, a model, a designer – it all is so fascinating. How do you manage it?

That is a very good question and I’m still trying to figure out how I do it! Every day is so completely different from the next. It’s all like a tightrope walk while juggling each facet of what I do and being mother to a special needs child while being on the autism spectrum myself. Within the same day, for example, I may begin with:

  • posting to my shop The Imaginarium Wonder Emporium and fulfilling any orders from the day prior.
  • continuing forward with any current art commissions on Instagram (at the moment I’m finishing up another album cover for a musician, sketching my proposal for a local butcher shop mural, and designing the logo for a medical nonprofit).
  • answering emails throughout the day as I go along which also entails communicating with local, national and international magazines to submit work, answer interviews and aid in promotions when I can.
  • running lines and studying scripts (at the moment I’m acting in one of two lead roles in a suspense short film scheduled to begin filming in January 2021, which also requires intensive physical training which I’ve begun and have to juggle into all of this too)
  • I squeeze in hand-making more products for my shop wherever I can as I go, meetings in person or virtual as needed for my current projects, and of course model on occasion (shoots typically only take up a third of my day when I do).
  • Work on the side on my children’s books whenever I can (which is rare but worth it).

And somewhere in there I usually remember to eat, feed the kiddo and do the mom thing which also involves helping him in his own artistic endeavors when we have little windows of time.

For some people art and creativity are hobbies, for you it is a job. Do you get tired from art and do you have any non-creative hobbies?

I actually do hit my wall of mental exhaustion from the flurry of creativity that is my daily norm. When I do, I try to unwind by watching shows. Although I don’t think that counts as a hobby. And typically it only takes place when I’m laid up in bed for a bit, which happens far more regularly than I would like. I deal with autoimmune issues, chronic migraines, etc., and this has been from birth so I’m used to it but it’s never fun.

Your son Aiden is also a very creative person. I think it is so cool. Do you make art together? Or share the same practices, materials? Are you planning to have a project together?

Aiden and I have been collaborating since he was 3. I’d illustrate custom characters for him to color, he’d make finger paintings for me to use as backgrounds, and we’d both make all sorts of things together, including toys. When he was 5, he made a kaleidoscope out of legos which I put in front of my camera lens and shot through.

Photo by K.Day with a kaleidoscope made by Aiden

Now as he’s 10, we work together on serious large scale projects like his Cultures series which were recently picked up by Dream a Dream nonprofit in India for their What If ad campaign for education reform…

On the left, Aiden’s and Kathleen’s work for Dream a Dream

Aiden’s and Kathleen’s work for Dream a Dream

…and singer Amanda Wilkinson’s Spiritual Level single cover.

The kiddo is seriously talented and has much of his own professional art projects and international gallery exhibitions and publications going on all the time too. His most current showing is in Manchester, United Kingdom at The Doll’s House gallery; they’re showcasing his animated music video “Clash of Ages”.

What is your creative process? How do you start? And how long does it usually take to create a painting or a collage?

Depending on the project, it can take anywhere between ten minutes to three days. I never have a set process. I just lay out my materials and juggle life while trying to focus on the canvas in front of me. And snacks…there’s usually a lot of random snacking that ensues. 

The Fig
acrylic on 8×10” recycled card stock; artist K. Day; circa 2020

What is the most important aspect of creative work and art for you?

Joy. That it brings me joy and peace. I hate working on projects that are too commercialized. When I’m engaged in such projects from time to time there’s that nagging inner battle like, “I decided to do what I love for a living so why did I even say yes to this project?”. But ultimately it’s tedious projects like that which have the potential to allow me to grow as a creative and add season and depth to my ever evolving portfolio. The most important thing for me is and always will be enjoying what I do.

A little bit of a cheesy question but where do you find inspiration? Do you create a mood board or maybe collect something to stay inspired?

Literally everywhere. It can be a sound outside my window or a phrase somebody says in regular conversation, smells from the food I’m eating, seeing a dog chase its tail…my creative radar does not shut off. And I move so quickly into creation process once I’m triggered that I don’t really have time to create mood boards. Those usually come about when I’m communicating with other professionals on project proposals before we start so they can visually have a glimpse into my head. 

On the left, Life is so Beautiful by artist K. Day; acrylic on magazine collage 2020

I am in love with your style and portraits on your website. Does your style develop naturally or you try to push yourself out of the comfort zone?

Both. I will have an idea of something I want to do, then I start posing questions to myself to incite challenge. Like, “ok, so you want to do a shoot about rebirth and killing that part of yourself that no longer serves – what if you shot naked and half blind through plastic bubble wrap, with no makeup so it’s raw and real?” (That’s actually one of my more recent projects completed by his year; my as•phyx•i•a .)

I Am Magic; artist K. Day
analog collage; circa 2020

Do you have a dream project that you want to create or every project you work on is a dream in a way?

Absolutely! It has always been my dream to have an incredible brick and mortar store space for my shop The Imaginarium Wonder Emporium. I have many intricate drawn out plans for how it would look. It’s not just a store, it’s a place of amusements and wonder. Even including a twisting turning hall of mirrors. One day I will bring it to fruition. Of this I’m certain.

Tell us a bit about the Courrier and how did it transform after it moved from being an independent project to being a part of your company?

The Courrier is still its own nonprofit international mail art gallery. Basically, I just house it under the overall umbrella of The Imaginarium Wonder Emporium. Meaning that The Imaginarium simply plays host to it. I did this mainly because as I became increasingly busy growing my business, it got overwhelming running The Courrier full-time. Likewise, participation began to taper off as the weeks turned into months for this pandemic. People lost interest to a degree in mail art. So it’s still available for people to participate, but it’s not viable enough to devote my full attention to. 

https://thecourrier.weebly.com/

What books, movies, websites or Instagram accounts would you recommend to other artists?

  • Book – The Artist’s Way by Julia Cameron.
  • Movie – The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus (and literally everything Terry Gilliam directs)
  • Website – Faire, it’s a great wholesale.
  • Instagram – artist Mab Graves’ professional Instagram, she’s an artist, humanitarian, storyteller and chronic illness warrior like me. And both I and my son are in love with the intricate innocent and magical world she creates

And the final question. What would your advice be to the younger artists?

Take your art seriously and know that it can become a viable career so long as you apply yourself and don’t be afraid to ask for help.  There is a thing that was said to me and it definitely helped to put things into perspective. Quoting loosely, “remember that there are people out there with only half your talent, doing the exact same thing half as good, and they’re already making a living out of it”.

Creme series; Lo Tropico; artist K. Day
acrylic on 5×8” postcard; circa 2020

Portrait of K.Day is taken by photographer Freddy Camargo.

Support Kathleen by following her on Instagram: @artist.kday, @kathleen.day.official, @kat.ev.day or visit her website for more information. Kathleen is represented by Hansford & Sons’ Emerging Artists Platform – London, UK; And managed by JAG Enterprises, Joe A. Gomez III – San Antonio, Texas.

Support Kat’s store The Imaginarium Wonder Emporium

Support Aiden by following him on Instagram

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