Artist Spotlight: Krista Perry

June 21, 2018

My goodness, Krista Perry is a true gem. This interview had us in stitches!! What a creative and artistic soul. Krista Perry is the newest member of our Red Cap family, and we couldn’t be more ecstatic! From her vibrant, retro-inspired color palette to her imaginative wellspring of ideas, Krista adds a new perspective to our artist collective that we absolutely adore. We had the happy opportunity to throw a release party in her honor recently at The Social Type, and get to know her in person in sunny Los Angeles. So much fun. Check out her website here, and view her new designs for Red Cap here. Welcome, Krista! We love you!

Tell us about your life in Boston!
I lived in Boston during college and eventually graduated from MassArt in 2015. I moved back home for two years and focused on replacing nearly all assignment work on my website with illustrations that better fit the types of clients I wanted to attract. Eventually, my boyfriend and I moved back to the city. We’re starting this year off in a new apartment which is exciting because I’ve never had so much space to make art. We’re eager to take better advantage of being so close to the city and I’m hoping to really get out and experience more of the creative spaces that Boston has to offer.

Do you have any aspirations to live somewhere else?
I’m not really sure where I’ll end up at this point! Prior to visiting Los Angeles this June, I thought for sure I’ll end up there. But right now I’m kind of just figuring out my next step. I loved the creative atmosphere that LA offered but I’m not so sure how I felt about all the traffic, haha! LA was great but I totally LOVED the desert. When we were visiting, we spent a decent chunk of time in Yucca Valley and even made the long trip out to Salvation Mountain! It’d been a dream of mine since forever to visit! But anyways, I think my #1 priority before I move somewhere drastically different is to pay off all of my student debt.

What does a typical day look like for you?
For the time being I am a coffee slinging barista. All through the process of creating my debut collection with Red Cap Cards, I worked opening shifts nearly every morning. I’d set a “warning” alarm at 3:30, and usually allow myself a luxurious additional 30 minutes to sleep until I really had to get up at 4. Getting up super early was tough to get used to but it afforded me the freedom of the rest of the day to work on illustration projects after my shift. When I get out of work, I usually eat lunch and relax a bit to recover from the morning, haha. When I start working on illustration stuff it’s usually pretty easy for me to get lost in it. I like to pick out a favorite record or find something to listen to like a documentary or podcast to get started.

Did you always want to be an artist? Did you have any other aspirations?
When I was six, I wanted to be a dolphin trainer. Yup, I wanted to teach dolphins how to do flips in the air. I also wanted to do something with horses at one point or another. I was probably the token horse girl in your 3rd grade class…

What is your work process like?
I like to start with lists!! I have about 7 active idea lists on my phone right now!! Sometimes I’m just minding my own business and a super funny idea will pop into my head. I write it all down because I never know what’ll be my next funny illustration. Another great idea generator is keeping a sketchbook! I can’t encourage young artists enough to keep a sketchbook! You can make anything you want in those suckers! I usually have at least two going at the same time. I have one to do whatever I want in i.e. sketches & random typography practice, and one that I like to treat more importantly where I try to make completed pieces of work on each spread. If I’m working on a project that I was hired to do, I start by researching and drawing super rough sketches, then I draw more detailed versions of whichever sketches are chosen. Once narrowed down, I create color studies for the best ideas. Since getting an iPad Pro, this process has been much easier to do. After approval, I get to work on the final piece! My very favorite part of the process is working on the small details of the painting. I like to see how realistically I can render things. It has always been a super fun challenge for me.

Speaking of sketchbooks, here’s one now!

What inspires you most? In work? In life?
Sunshine, a good color palette, laughing….

It’s tough to narrow down what inspires me the most… if you visit my Pinterest you will see a disgustingly large amount of organized imagery that I love to stare at. I like to collect old magazines and I also keep a Fun Shit box where I throw all of my favorite little things into. Feeling the urge to create something is very empowering. When I feel inspired it’s almost as if I can’t control myself. I feel like I’m being tightly embraced by it in the loveliest way. Inspiration is like a breath of fresh air, it fills me with life. When I see someone doing what they love, or explaining why they enjoy it so much, it often rubs off on me and I think “wow I need to work on something pronto!!!”

“Ocular Garden” by Krista Perry

What is your favorite piece if work you’ve created?
It’s not necessarily my favorite thing I’ve ever made, but I discovered who I was when I painted Ocular Garden during my second semester of senior year at MassArt. I was a little stuck. I had spent the entire previous semester researching and painting for my thesis project on the Manson Family. I knew I wanted to break out of that shell a little bit but also knew that I was still clearly very inspired by motifs of the 60s. I felt a lot pressure to focus on strictly editorial work, but since I was still a little confused about how I wanted to be making art, I was lost. I would completely over-think the editorial assignment and waste so much time getting frustrated. I decided maybe I wanted to create something fun for my new website that would garner possible licensing work. I liked the idea of making pretty designs that didn’t have to be full of hidden messages like an editorial assignment might include. I bought a huge piece of black paper (which was very different for me) and just started painting. Months prior, I bought a tub of gold gouache and decided I finally wanted to try using it. This piece was cool because it had little to no planning whatsoever. I just remember thinking “wow this is really exciting,” and the rest is history. I think when I brought it to critique, I knew it was the beginning of something pretty cool.

What was the best piece of advice you were given when starting out?
I think the biggest piece of advice I received in school is that you really are in control of your own destiny. Once you’re out of school, you have nobody but yourself to rely on to keep you going. When you’re in school, you’re sort of corralled with other illustrators and artists who have the same or similar goals as you. You’re also getting constant assignments to work on and gallery shows that you must be in. It was really strange after graduating because I took a couple months off from art and then thought “oh shit, I need to get going!” For me, there was this constant need to stay relevant and active. I truly love making funny, weird, and different art. It makes me happy to be actively creating.

Do you have any advice for up-and-coming artists and illustrators?
Kick your own ass into gear, and literally never stop. If you truly want this, it’ll force its way into your life one way or another. Keep your eyes on the prize!! It’s really, really easy to compare yourself to others. In a world where social media is so important, it’s good to remember that what people post is just a super small chunk of what’s going on in their lives.  My biggest word of advice is to remain focussed on yourself and your own story. Theres nothing worse than getting tangled up in other people’s success. Another biggie piece of advice is staying as true to yourself as humanly possible. BE YOURSELF & HAVE FUN! Having your own unique voice is key. It’s really exciting once you start to figure out what works for you in terms of process, work ethic, and style.

Favorite mediums to work in?
When I’m working on a full illustration, I usually prefer to paint with Holbein Acryla Gouache. They have THE BEST COLORS!!!! They’re so yummy and beautiful!! Sometimes, I like to practice with traditional gouaches (the kind that reactivates when water is added). They each provide their own special qualities that I get way too excited about. I’ll never forget the first time I was introduced to gouache. It was in a Media Techniques class at Massart, taught by one of my former mentors and good friend, Mister Reusch. That class was really cool because it required young illustrators to experiment with different mediums. I knew from the moment I painted with it for the first time, that it was my medium of choice.

If I feel like drawing, I also looove:  Gelly Roll gel pens, POSCA paint markers, Tombow dual tip markers, Permapaque markers, Prismacolor markers, my metal mechanical pencils, and many more!

Who are your role models in terms of art or otherwise?
I think really anyone who takes their dreams seriously and makes them a reality. It’s awfully morbid but I always think about dying someday so I need to make it work (and start focusing on my own happiness for once). I feel very grateful for the cool stuff I’ve been able to work on so far.

If you didn’t work as an artist, what would you be doing?
Oh man! I bet you didn’t see this coming! I would love to work as a forensic scientist or something relating to coroner’s work. I am completely obsessed with horrible diseases and true crime. I love watching documentaries and researching famous crimes and serial killers. Honestly, the more gruesome the detail, the better. I wanna hear the good stuff. I actually recently started listening to two podcasts in particular; Sword & Scale – a more serious, down-to-business kind of show, and Last Podcast on the Left – which is equally as detailed as it is hilarious. I often have to pause so I can get all of my laughing out. I’m at the point now where I listen to it so frequently that when I walk to work in the morning and hear something, I assume I’m going to get murdered. It’s usually just a rat.

Any upcoming projects you’d like to share?
Nothing big right now… but, I’d like to expand on my definition of illustration. Up until now I’ve really only worked on 2D pieces. In the future, I’d like to explore with other mediums such as fiber arts and sculpture. I’d also love to go beyond what little comprehension I currently have for basic animation. Whenever I’m working on something, I sometimes imagine how I would animate it if I knew how to. I was really into super funny shows like Ren & Stimpy, All-That, SpongeBob, and other classic Nickelodeon gems as a kid so I’d love to work on funny videos or skits of some sort. I do have a little experience creating gifs in Photoshop which has been incredibly fun! Now that we are back from our vacation to California, I’m excited to start making new work for my website & promotional materials to send out to possible future clients. I’m also working on a new special sketchbook!! It’s different from any other because this time I’m giving myself a prompt. I want the pages to go in rainbow order, start to finish! I recently started making compilation videos of my completed sketchbooks too. Other than that, I’m excited to settle into our new space more.

Any pipe-dreams?
Open my own roller rink, split a pizza with John Stamos, and QUIT MY SHITTY DAY JOB !!!

Obligatory Red Cap question: Favorite drink?
A nice cold strawberry milk from Wrights Dairy Farm in Smithfield, RI!!! You can visit the sweet the cows and stock up on yummy pastries there!! Strawberry milk is a special treat that I let myself have once in a blue moon.

Photos courtesy of Anthony Fusco.