KATY ANN GILMORE
Artist Katy Ann Gilmore has always had an internal drive to create, whether it was knitting or sewing or drawing. She is self-taught in a number of creative disciplines, finding a common thread in the intense patience and repetition that each new skill has required. She has an aptitude for mathematics as well, and navigating the correlation between math and art (the practical and the impractical) has been a theme in her work and in her career. After growing up in the rural Midwest, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue an “impractical” career in art. She completed an MFA program at Azusa Pacific while also working as an administrative assistant and finance coordinator, before leaving the 9 to 5 behind last fall to pursue art full-time. She is inspired to create work that presents a more natural expression of what she finds interesting and curious about the world.
When did you know you wanted to pursue your business or venture? I’ve always had an entrepreneurial mindset coupled with a love to create. From a young age, all I’ve wanted to do is make things. I remember making cards for friends and family and signing the back with “Kathryn’s Kreations” and this viney, illustrative flower. In elementary school and junior high, I would float from one business venture to the next (making jewelry, painting mugs and plates, knitting/crocheting), making items to sell to friends, family, and neighbors.
Did your original business plan change along the way or are you doing exactly what you set out to do? If it changed, how so? This has been more of a lifestyle than a specific “aha” moment for me, so I think my business plan has developed organically. Working for a few years in an office setting helped me to learn what to do (and not to do) to organize the logistics of my own venture. I expect it to continue to change as I grow. What may be a logical plan at one point could be an ill-advised plan in the future, so it’s always good to stay on your toes and be willing to adapt and change.
What makes you different from your competition? I have a bit of a unique background. I studied Mathematics as well as Art in undergrad, and mathematical thought certainly serves as an inspiration for what I make. I’ve always been interested in technical pursuits and love examining how things work. My MFA education really served as a refining tool for how both those interests work together in my life.
Tell us about a time when you thought you should throw in the towel. What kept you going? Oh, all the time. I think it’s easy to fall into that trap and listen to the little negative voice inside of your head. Because I have worked a 9 to 5, I know what it’s like to get a steady paycheck. It would be so much easier to just work in a job with a steady income. But I really wouldn’t be happy. So that little negative voice only lasts a moment because I know that I love what I’m doing. The uncertainties that come with building your business far outweigh the unhappiness of doing a job you don’t love.
What three factors have most contributed to your success in business and in life? First, I’m a huge fan of setting mini-goals on the way to bigger goals. Instead of letting myself be overwhelmed by big goals, I set about four smaller goals each month that are challenging but realistic. Second, I’m quick to recognize what skills I have and what skills I lack. For the skills I lack, I ask myself what I need to do to make up for that. I think this is a healthy way to approach life. Someone is always going to be better than me at something. Third, I’m not afraid of doing lots of work that may yield little results. I think sometimes you need to be OK with putting in a lot of hours and maybe not getting the results you were expecting.
“I recognize that “failed” pieces do help contribute to the larger goal of creating better work.”
If you could have a one-on-one meeting with any woman, who would it be and why? What’s the first thing you would you ask her? Lynda Benglis. Not only do I love and appreciate her aesthetic, but she made a name for herself in a male-dominated era and field.
I wish someone had told me… That it’s possible to “make things” for a living. You’ll have to work your ass off, but it’s possible.
I gave up ____ to pursue my dream: When I think about what I’ve given up, I can really only think about what I’ve gained. I’ve certainly given up a lot of time that could be spent doing other things, but working towards my dream is how I want to spend my time.
My biggest challenge is… Taking breaks. I don’t “rest” or take time off very well. I tend to get antsy and anxious, so it’s often hard for me to take breaks without feeling guilty or unproductive. But breaks are necessary to rejuvenate, so I’m learning.
My proudest professional moment to date is… Making the active decision that it’s OK to not work a 9 to 5 or do what’s “practical”. I have a bit of a realistic, practical personality, and that’s been ingrained in me over the years, so I think my proudest professional moment is the continued decision to overcome that in order to pursue what I love.
LET’S GET PERSONAL:
The three words that best describe me are… Tenacious, introspective, curious.
While on vacation I always… Find a good local coffee shop.
My beauty routine consists of… In the day-to-day, I’m usually pretty simple. Mascara and shadow on my eyes, and a bit of foundation. I am, however, always painting my nails. When I’m working on a sculpture or other messy project, my hands obviously take a beating. When posting to Instagram, my hands often make it into drawing photos, so I’m repainting them all the time.
My tips for eating healthy during the workday are… Planning ahead. I typically buy the ingredients to make a big salad at the beginning of the week and jazz it up with grilled chicken, walnuts, or something else wonderful throughout the week.
My favorite type of workout is… Walking. I’ve had a few knee surgeries, so I have to stick to pretty low-impact stuff, but that’s OK because I LOVE a good walk. I think through projects while walking, and I often solve aesthetic or logistical problems that I was encountering. I love a brisk 2-3 mile walk and make a point to do this at least four days per week.
A teacher or boss who influenced me is… One of my college mathematics professors was really encouraging of my interest in both art and mathematics. He was a key contributor in my work to figure out how to express both of those interests naturally through my work.
I rejuvenate by… Journaling at a coffee shop or taking walks. I’m definitely an introvert and recharge when I have time alone to think and sort through thoughts and ideas.
Lately I’m inspired by… The foothills. I have a big interest in topography, and the foothills are always inspiring. I’ve been working on incorporating that lately into some of my grid drawings.