Get to know Kelsey Beckett! A fantastic little interview wherein Kelsey discusses many things including how she begins her work, the ideas behind her print "The Seamstress" and the difficulties of creating.
Could you tell us a bit about where you live, Detroit? What's the art scene like there?
I actually moved away from the Detroit area a while ago. I'm currently living on the West side of the state, in a city called Kalamazoo - which is a LOT different than Detroit. When I did live in Detroit, the art scene was beginning to bustle, and the city itself was mostly made up of families who had been living there for a long time. Nowadays, there's a lot of people from the surrounding suburbs starting to move in, and it's almost nothing like I remember. The art scene has been steadily blowing up over the last few years though, and there's a lot of prestige to be found.
What are your first artistic memories?
My brothers played a lot of video games when I was little - Final Fantasy being one of them. I thought the characters in Square Enix games were absolutely beautiful, and I would scour through "Playstation Magazine's" looking for pictures of them that I could try to draw. Along the same line, I watched a ton of Sailor Moon, and obsessed over the distinct style of anime. I didn't know what anime was at the time, but I knew it was stunning, and made me want to also make stunning things.
Do you use a sketchbook to begin your pieces or when you begin painting, are they fully thought out?
I do have a sketchbook filled with loose, ugly thumbnail sketches and awkward renderings. I try to get an idea of what I want first, and then begin gathering reference once the idea is deemed "worthy." There have been a couple pieces that have been completely off the cuff, but those generally lead me into corners that are very, very frustrating to get out of.
Where do you find your ideas for your pieces coming from mostly? Do things like films or literature inspire your work?
Ideas for paintings come from various sources, depending on the day. I get a lot of inspiration from fashion blogs, and Avant-garde style clothing. I'm also always inspired by nature photography - there's endless color schemes and odd circumstances in nature. And of course, I'm endlessly inspired by other artists, current or classical.
Could you tell us a bit about your release with us, "The Seamstress," and the ideas behind it?
I recently became interested in patterns, and have been collecting a digital stockpile of heavily decorated fabrics from all over the internet and real life. I dreamed up this piece as an outlet for all of that overflowing imagery. I imagined this woman toting around her lavish fabrics, surrounded by color and patterns, and it came naturally to me that she would also be a seamstress. As with most of my paintings, I wanted the imagery to be luscious and self indulgent.
What's a normal day like in the studio for you?
I have to drink a lot of coffee before I can essentially do anything. Once I'm feeling energized enough, I tend to turn on a television show, or a horror movie ((almost always horror,)) and use that as a kind of white noise in the background. I generally have 2-4 works in progress in the studio, as oil paint takes a long time to dry in between layers, and I'd go mad not doing anything within that span of time. It's also more entertaining to be able to switch out of a painting and go over to another while in a different frame of mind. I'll work on a painting anywhere from 6 to 12 hours a day. Some days I wake up and paint the whole entire day, only stopping every once in a while. I personally don't enjoy or recommend working an entire day for long spans of time - It's important to recharge. I like to take little breaks when I can to sit on my porch, water my garden, or play with Cricket.
What is your favorite part about painting?
One of the things I love most about painting, and what keeps me coming back, is that it's incredibly challenging. I consider every painting a test, to see if I can improve, or to push myself - and that aspect of it will literally never go away. To me, painting is an obsession, and constantly striving to perfect my obsession is outrageously rewarding. When something goes just right, or I transcend a previous level of skill, it's pure euphoria.
And your least favorite part?
On the same side of that coin, failing to improve, or struggling, is my least favorite part. There are times when nothing goes right, my hand is wobbly, the surface is too slippery, and all of my previous knowledge seems to have slipped out of my head. That disconnect is enraging, and I've definitely stabbed a few paintbrushes through my canvas in fits of rage as a result.
When not painting, what do you find yourself doing?
If I'm not painting, or doing something else art related, I generally just try my hardest to relax. Constantly working in one form or another is one of the ways that I combat anxiety, but when I force myself to stop working, I consciously looks for ways to try and relax. This can range anywhere from going to the gym and spending a few hours there, to sitting on my porch with Cricket, reading. I also really like eating and cooking, so trying new recipes as well as hanging out in restaurants is a nice way to spend a day off.
And who is a band we should all listen to?
Oh man. Glass Animals or Father John Misty. Or if you want to get pumped up - Babymetal.
"The Seamstress" will be released on Thursday, May 10th, 2018 at 1PM PST.