We all have an appetite for something. Yes, for that burger & those fries of course- but we're talking about a deeper appetite. Kristin Simmons is an artist living and creating in New York City who designs & explores our urges and tendencies. Her bold and provocative work inspire and inform in profound ways. We hope you enjoy our conversation with her as much as we did!
Breakthrough Marketing Group: So you studied Studio Art & Art History @ Columbia, did you land in the art world right after school?
Kristin Simmons :I actually worked in the ad agency world for a while, I thought it would be a happy medium between being able to still be active creatively & not completely sell my soul to the corporate world.
BMG: Absolutely, that's great. So you were making & creating on the side for a while?
Kristin: Exactly, I had always been told art was something you couldn't make money doing, or certainly not full time. But, after selling a few commissioned pieces I sort of accidentally fell into it, and now am able to do so full time.
BMG: That's amazing. Difficult question but do you have a favorite piece that you've created?
Kristin: That is tough, reason being is that usually my favorite piece is the one I'm currently working on. It's very hard to choose because so much goes into each one on a personal level, so they all hold special meaning. Most recently, I just wrapped up the Disney Princess Pfizer series (Pictured below) which has been met with a lot of excitement which felt great. It's always nice when it is well received, because you never know until things are out there.
BMG: Right, you always have your own vision for it and how it will do- but having that reaffirmed for your audience is major. Do you ever have pieces or moments when your work isn't understood how you'd like it to be?
Kristin: I think for the most part I am able to explain or convey what I'm going for. If not, I always stand behind what I make, I never will take something down or erase it- because every creation is meaningful.
BMG: That's a great outlook to have. When did the infatuation with creating & with art in general begin?
Kristin: I've always been a creative person starting from a pretty young age. For a while I never really had that one thing- I wasn't particularly athletic, I was a good student and hard working but wasn't valedictorian or anything- and then I started to realize over the years I really was excelling in art class. I found that niche and not only did I enjoy it but I was really good at it as well. On top of that it became a therapeutic exercise for me, it truly let me explore and express myself.
BMG: How have your influences for your art throughout the years changed, or remained the same?
Kristin: I think a lot of things I was working on originally, in college & fresh out of college focused on looking to the past. I think now it's centered around trying to provide answers surrounding the current landscape.
BMG: So I'm glad you brought up the past because looking through your portfolio I definitely got the sense of a lot of nostalgia based work, could you talk more about that theme.
Kristin : Sure, I think the simplicity of a lot of things we see and remember from our childhood coupled with or against the complex content we are being exposed to now with mass media is an interesting dynamic.
BMG: Definitely, I love the board games collection- & the title "Games People Play" was that based on the song?
Kristin: Yes! I'm glad you noticed that, good catch- I think the small details are so important so it's great that you picked up on that.
BMG: So, what are your thoughts on social media- do you think it has been beneficial in your role as an artist or hindered it in any way?
Kristin: I think Instagram specifically has definitely helped, it has been such a great platform and one of the main reasons I was able to monetize my work. So I think when used correctly, it is definitely valuable. And that's really where so much of attention is nowadays is on these social sites.
BMG: Totally agree, we often say instead of ROI we are looking for ROA the return on attention. Because between app notifications, emails, texts, we are all fighting over these quick glances and if you don't capture & engage someone, you've lost them.
Kristin: That's a great way to put it ! I think it's certainly helped me get in front of a lot of eyes and its great to see people reacting & engaging with the pieces.
BMG: That must feel incredible to have that feedback loop. You also do galleries and other in person events, so how is it to see those visceral reactions from people?
Kristin: Oh its my favorite. The wonderful thing about being an emerging artist is that very very few people know what you look like- so you could be standing right next to them as they speak openly about your exhibit and they have no idea. So it's nice to hear both the flattering things as well as the negative.
Initially I thought I would be offended if someone said something negative but I realized, if it causing a conversation of any kind it's a good thing. So much of art feels indifferent , and makes you feel nothing so if people feel strongly in either direction about my work , it's doing its job.
BMG: That's a powerful concept- I agree I think some of the most inspiring and important pieces end up being the most polarizing.
Kristin: And that's the beauty of art is that it has the power to breaks through uncomfortable themes and make them accessible.
BMG: Could you talk a little bit about the creative process- Do you have specific music playing or a specific environment you set for yourself?
Kristin: Great question! Yes I'd say 90% of the time I have music playing. I listen to everything- I really love listening to instrumental jazz when I'm creating but I'll jump around a bunch. For instance I might be playing some Britney if I'm working with some vibrant 90s colors. This is actually the first time I've thought of this but now that I'm voicing it, it makes total sense- I tend to couple the music with the style I'm creating in.
BMG: Do you have a specific style or theme you'd categorize your work as?
Kristin: One word , or theme that almost all of my work comes back to is "Appetites". I think a lot of what we consume is in efforts to do 2 things- we buy to move closer to pleasure or further away from pain- sometimes the two are not mutually exclusive. We have this appetite these days for likes, for followers, and as consumer oriented society we have this need for more more more- and the question is can we ever truly be satisfied?
BMG: That reminds me of the movie American Psycho- specifically the business card scene. It seems ridiculous when portrayed by others, but its actually hauntingly close to reality.
Kristin: Exactly! I love that scene, I actually used a quote from that movie in one of my stock certificate pieces.
BMG: So what new and exciting things are coming up that you're currently working on?
Kristin: I'm just finishing up an astrology series for Art Basel in Miami. It's a nice change instead of working with hard consumer facing products I'm now getting a chance to work with something you can't see or feel, so I really have been enjoying it!
BMG: That's great! We definitely will keep a look out for those and all of your upcoming projects!