Krissy Whiski: Artist, Mom and Inter-Dimensional Spiritual Badass
When I first "met" Krissy I was cruising Instagram, looking for artists I wanted to connect with. Her bright, vibrant and sometimes fluorescent work drew my attention right away. We worked together for a large Art Event that I organized and I have been working with her ever since - check out her awesome piece in the Gallery, "Planet Over Profit".
One of the reasons I LOVE Krissy is because she embraces the spiritual part of being an Artist and creative person. I feel like a lot of artists, and humans in general, are disconnected from this truth. Read below about how she gets through creative challenges, balances artist life/mom life, sets goals and what she wants to experience creating and sharing it with the world.
Let us know who you are and what you stand for a why you choose a creative career path for yourself.
My name is Krissy Whiski; I'm an artist, mom, and an inter-dimensional spiritual badass. This creative path just felt like the right thing to do. From a young age, I used art as a means to express what I was feeling about how I viewed the world around me.
Tell us about how your art career started and how long it took you to build your following to where it is today.
It's kinda complicated. I sorta fell into this in a sad way out of sheer need. My step-dad passed away my senior year of high school and that kind of changed my path of going to college. He and my mother were not married and I was not living with my mother. I moved out my senior year because I was so mad at her about the split, about uprooting our lives and everything. But I finished high school and I had plans of going to college. He and I were talking weekly and he was willing to offset my college costs. I was accepted to Rutgers but didn't have a major planned. I didn't find out he had passed away until a week after he was gone. It was all extremely crushing for me. He didn't have a will and I wasn't technically his, even though he raised me for 16 years, so everything was sort of up in the air. His half-sister sold the house my brother and I grew up in and never returned any of my phone calls. It was the lowest I think I've ever felt in my life up to that point, So I moved to Florida. I thought the beach could restore my soul and in many ways it did. I held down many odd jobs; and one day while out exploring I walked into Leoma Lovegrove's gallery. It was a real wonderland. I walked up to one of the artists who was painting lettering on the side of the building and asked if they were hiring and a week later I was working a crowded first Friday art party. The other artists and sales people joked that I was being thrown into the fire or fed to the wolves - it was a lot to take in. I learned a lot about the business of art, about marketing, about standing out in a crowd and I had a ton of fun doing so. In retrospect, I wouldn't trade that for college now. I didn't look at myself as an artist back then, although I was painting every spare chance that I got. I was only 19 and among successful professional artists who had given their lives to painting. I knew I was a total newb and I considered myself a hobbyist painter and a marketing/graphic design all around salesperson for the gallery. When I had my first son in 2007 I decided to move to Savannah, Georgia with my then husband. I took to painting portraits on etsy in my spare time. My best friend, Eric, had committed suicide while overseas in Iraq and I fell back into creating art for myself for a while. I always turned back to painting as a form of therapy during the hard times in my life. Art has the power to restore your soul by allowing you to reflect. I went back to odd jobs working for Hugo Boss and then a Plastics Manufacturer while still doing art and photography on the side. Working for myself always seemed the most rewarding but I needed a more stable steady income to help provide for my boys; not to mention healthcare. It wasn't until 2015 that I took on painting full-time. I left out many unfortunate chaotic details that led to that decision because I still haven't fully recovered and moved on from that time in my life, but that's beside the point. Creating art saved me. It's my purpose, and I know that. Marketing is just something I learned along the way, that's helped me to build a following. I recommend artists learn how to market themselves, Share Your Work by Austin Kleon is just one of the many marketing books that will get you started. Show up every day, stand out, do your best, find your demographic and keep showing them that you aren't going anywhere. People will begin to notice. It takes YEARS of consistent, determined effort, or you can hack it by coming up with something viral. I recommend a bit of both.
How do you get through challenging times and artist blocks? What are some tools or processes you have in place for overcoming challenges?
I treat art as a full-time job because it is one to me. I sit down every day and create. I've been doing that since 2015. I plan out things months in advance. Artist block doesn't really ever happen. Sometimes paintings go south though. I get stuck in a painting that just isn't working, and I have to either try to solve the problem that's causing everything to feel off or I set it aside and start another. Ideas are never an issue. If anything time is an issue. I have so many ideas and concepts sketched out and written down, and many canvases in varying stages of completion but not enough time to do them all. The ideas compete for my interest in my mind because I want to finish them all. I deal with art restlessness more than artist block.
How do you set goals for yourself and what strategies do you use to execute?
I set yearly goals in tiers to prioritize them. Then I break down my goals into steps that will help me achieve that goal. Sometimes it's honestly a lot of research or just trying and failing. I really feel if you are disciplined and mindful of the long-term goal over the present than you can really focus hard on breaking down what needs to get done and go for it. As an artist putting myself out there, trying something new, submitting to another juried show, or showing up in a new art scene, I often feel like I am standing on a high ledge. It feels dangerous, risky and vulnerable. Part of that is thrilling, and it's also terrifying. I feel like that comes in spurts for me when I am trying to propel myself forward, and that's ok because when you jump off and stick that landing, you've succeeded. That's growth. Reaching those goals is scary because you know the next set of goals are even more challenging.
What are some of your core values and beliefs?
I believe art is spiritual at least for me it is. I believe ideas are powerful and art is ideas, human emotion and intent. Good art is powerful, it’s impactful and it will grab the audience it is meant for if it is honest. I think honesty and truth are the most essential things in our times right now. I value people who are honest, kind and smart. I appreciate people who have incredibly different perspectives from me that are willing to share their views and have an honest intellectual conversation. I believe people are inherently good if they have morals or a sense of purpose and order. Chaos makes me uncomfortable. People who aren't productively working toward a goal and who are often inconsistent in their behavior or how they treat people freaks me out. It's a red flag for me, and I used to waste my time trying to study and solve it. It's often proved fruitless. So I pay no mind to it now. I mostly focus on my family, my artwork and my small circle of friends. I'm not religious per se but I am very spiritual. I think organized religion has been an excellent tool for establishing morals, and guiding people to behave in a benevolent way. Many of the modern organized religions have been changed and manipulated to fit the needs of the people and the times. Unfortunately that leads to inconsistencies or holes where greed and agendas can force their way into the interpretation. But that’s beside the point. I think people should study many religions, study history, study art and cultural shifts. I think understanding our past gives us perspective on things in our current times. It helps us make informed decisions based on a number of perspectives. No one should just be blindly listening to what their told without questioning things from all sides, we are people not animals. We should be using the brains in our heads to thinking things through, anything less than that is a disservice to one’s consciousness.
How do you think the "art world" is changing and what do you see it evolving into?
With the increase in technology, artists can own themselves. We don't need galleries, dealers and middlemen to be our gatekeepers. Although those middle-men will still exist because it gives the artist more time to focus on creating when we can hand over the selling part to them. I see galleries changing. People don't need to go to galleries anymore to find a new artist. However, people still want to look at art in person. Museums prove this notion in spades. Seeing an original piece of art in person is far more satisfying than on the internet. It allows you to get up close study the brushstrokes of a painting, or view sculpture from multiple angles. I think galleries can give a more in-depth experience of meeting the artist. I think branded galleries that can create a solid reputation and brand recognition will begin to rise in popularity. I believe uniquely elaborate art parties and immersive experiences that artists collaborate on together will become more of an attraction than stark white walls hung with art. I think galleries will begin to want artists who bring a following with them. Artists will expect galleries to provide them with more than a wall. The relationship will change, and I think that's a good thing.
When you think about what you want to experience through creating and sharing it with the world, what does that look like for you?
As an artist, I feel I must create observational truths that I feel passionate about. Art is emotional for me, and therapeutic, like meditation I am able to put parts of myself down on canvas and gain closure or work through feelings. I think sharing that art can help move people, teach people and inspire them. Art and activism are similar in that way, they can change things if done well, with the right intent. A painting of suffering can connect with someone who has felt similar pain, and it can teach someone who has never felt that pain that suffering is real, it exists. Music, movies, books, paintings, all of these forms of entertainment can be powerful tools to both entertain and teach others about the human condition. That’s important, it’s powerful and I hope I can teach people to remember how valuable that is. Art connects us all, it documents our culture and it allows us to reflect on the hard to talk about things.
How do you choose your subject matter?
Many of my ideas come from dreams, pop culture symbolism, mythology, religion, things that inspire me. I pull together everything that I see in daily life, and I come up with concepts that I feel will convey a message or meaning. Sometimes I'm not entirely aware of what that meaning is. Other times it's the message first that strikes, and the idea comes after. I've just learned to listen to my imagination, write down any dreams that stand out, and pay attention to things that stand out, things that catch my interest.
Tell us about some of the challenges of balancing your art life and mom life.
This is a huge challenge! Seriously, I get angsty about this one. My youngest goes to daycare, and my oldest goes to school. I treat my art time as my job. It's sacred. I work on all things art related between 9 to 5. After 5 it is mom time. So it's like I am living two lives. Some days it is extra hard to put the paintbrush down, or shut off my phone and stop trying to market artwork on Instagram. I struggle with this balance. When I have to go to an art show, I have to either get a sitter or rely on my other half to watch the kids. A four-year-old in an art gallery only lasts so long. So I find myself only committing to participating in things that are super well organized or planned. I learned quickly that anything that isn't well run is a waste of my time, and an artist with kids, doesn't have time to play.
If you could accomplish anything in life, what would it be?
I just want to create art that people enjoy now and in the future. I want to leave a legacy that inspires others and maintain a decent living doing what I love, just enough help my children get a good start in life. I want to raise my kids to be productive contributing members of society. Anything extra would just be icing, too much icing spoils a cake. If I did hit a level of success that rendered me rich, I'd give it towards something that helps better society as a whole