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Q&A with Artist Kristin Simmons

Mable Yiu

New York City-based artist Kristin Simmons is known for drawing inspiration from the city and "the idea of capitalist desire and consumption." Here, we discussed how she got her start in art and what her plans are for 2017 (which will be here before we know it!). 

Your art is so witty and usually has something to say about today's society whether about politics, capitalism, drugs or guns. How did you find your "style" of art? 

I think my style found me! I am really interested in the idea of capitalist desire and consumption; wanting/needing/having/getting/lusting etc., which I think are endemic to American culture. I was influenced from an early age by Pop artists such as Warhol, Johns, Lichtenstein, and Wesselmann. I remember being thirteen years old and seeing the Rosenquist retrospective at the Guggenheim and thinking "Wow—I want to do that." I want people to experience how art can consume and simultaneously seduce the viewer.

How has living in New York City influenced both you and your art?

The dichotomy of when you are a child vs. adult is very blurred when you grow up in New York City. You are exposed to a lot at an early age (shootings on the evening news, dolls that look like "trophy wives," and therapy or medication as the go-to solution for any minor imperfection). I became interested in looking at these cultural anomalies as a young adult by executing them in a provocative and alluring way through bold typography, color, images and found objects. 

You studied Studio Art and Art History at Columbia University—what was that experience like? 

I loved my experience at Columbia. To be at the center of the "art world" as a student where you have access to the most renowned faculty, resources and museums is an invaluable asset and advantage. I am truly grateful for my time there. If I could do it again, I wouldn't change a thing. 

Before you became a full-time artist, you were working in advertising. How has your lifestyle changed since then, and what has stayed the same? 

I always saw advertising as the corporate intersection of business and creativity, which has obviously inspired my art. When I was working in the ad world, I would get up early or stay up late (and sometimes both!) to make art in my free time. My schedule now is just as intense, since I am pursuing my MFA at The School of Visual Arts, freelancing for clients, and continuing to create personal work on a daily basis.

What is a typical day like for you? 

Oh my goodness, I am not sure if I can call any day typical! But I'll give it my best shot...I usually wake up around 7, respond to emails, check Instagram and other visual sources I love to peruse for inspiration, then get up and out the door by 8. I usually have anywhere between 3-7 hours of graduate classes and work to do on commission projects, and then I try and dedicate 3-4 hours to making my personal art. I like to get to bed early, which is no surprise to anyone who knows me. I need A LOT of sleep. I enjoy doing my reading and research on projects later in the evening before bed—it's a nice way to wind down and get ready to tackle the next day. 

You were just at the Affordable Art Fair a few weeks ago. Was that your first time exhibiting at an art fair and do you plan on being at any other ones soon? 

Yes, this was my first time exhibiting at The Affordable Art Fair. I was fortunate enough to work with Barbara Cartategui (of Soraya Cartategui Fine Arts) who did a wonderful job promoting my work—a large number of my pieces [were] sold, which I was thrilled about. I am in another show focusing specifically on my print work at The ICP from November 3rd to November 6th.

What are some of your upcoming projects/plans for 2017? 

I definitely plan to continue working in a similar style and focusing on consumer and advertising iconography. I'm interested specifically in looking at 80's culture (music, technology, politics, film, medicine etc.) and how that has influenced the millennial generation. In terms of medium, I will continue to print and paint, but I have some ideas for 3D objects or "combines" that are starting to come together. 

See more of Kristin Simmons' work through her website and Instagram

By Mable Yiu

Photos courtesy of Kristin Simmons